Why You Need Carbs
(Yes, Even You, Mama)

Carbohydrates often get a bad rep, but as with all food, carbs really shouldn’t be labeled “good” or “bad.” Here’s why you should consider adding some carbs to your cart the next time you’re at the grocery store.

By Christy Maloney RD, LDN, CEDS-S



Think on that word for a second. What comes up for you?


Do you think that carbs are bad? Are you fearful that carbs will cause weight gain? Have you been led to believe that carbs are unnecessary?


Poor old carbs have gotten a bad reputation on and off since the 1970s when Atkins became all the rage.


So, what are carbs?


Simply put, it’s a molecule of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. All carbohydrates turn into glucose in your body. Glucose is your body’s usable form of energy.


I don’t know about you, Mama, but this girl needs her energy for all the day to day tasks.

Poor old carbs have gotten a bad reputation on and off since the 1970s when Atkins became all the rage.

What are the differences in carbs?

There are complex carbs. These are defined as carbs that are three or more sugar molecules.


Simple carbs are 1-2 sugar molecules. Complex carbs take longer for your body to break down versus simple carbs.


Fiber and starch are complex carbohydrates. Think whole grains, lentils, beans, peas, fruits, starchy and non-starchy vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes.


Simple carbs are the more easily digestible ones. Think of candy, syrup, honey, white bread, white rice, etc.


Now, I know that we all hear that we should always eat complex carbs (if we eat carbs at all). And it’s true that complex carbs provide a wide array of things that are good for us including B vitamins, fiber, blood sugar stabilization, sustained fullness, decreased risk of heart disease and colon cancer. We NEED these things in our diets for overall health.

So, while we do want an abundance of whole grains, there’s room for the simple carbs, too. The key is to find balance and allow yourself some chocolate or a piece of cake or a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread. Sugar is not the devil and it will not hurt you as long as you’re looking at overall balance in what you’re eating (and making sure that you have a healthy relationship with food!)

The problem with too much protein

One thing to also note. We are told that we need to push protein as much as possible to be healthy. If you eat way more protein than you need and not enough carbs, guess what your body does? It takes the protein and, in a process called gluconeogenesis, turns it into glucose. Your body WANTS glucose. But making glucose from protein is really tough on your liver. And we are not looking to have elevated liver enzymes on your next lab work.


One fun factoid before I let you run to the grocery store for your potatoes and sourdough bread: Carbohydrates allow serotonin to be made in your body. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in your body that lets you feel happy.


Carbohydrates LITERALLY make you feel more happy. That’s reason enough for me.

Christy Maloney is a Registered Dietitian specializing in helping those with eating disorders and disordered eating in Charlotte, NC. Christy earned a BS in psychology from Wingate University. Following a career in banking and finance, becoming an RD was a second career for Christy. After completing coursework for a BS in Human Nutrition and her dietetic internship, Christy has been an RD since 2011. In January, 2019, she opened her own practice in Charlotte, NC, Enhance Nutrition Associates, devoted solely to the treatment of eating disorders at an outpatient level. Christy has become a Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian – Supervisor (CEDRD-S), now the CEDS-S certification . This credential shows Christy’s expertise and experience in the field. She also is an iaedp approved supervisor for other dietitians looking to obtain their CEDS certification.

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