Keep ‘em whole, as in not processed – that means fruit, veggies and whole grains. Make carbs about half your day’s calories.
Friend or For: You need carbs for energy, so they are friendly, as long as you stick to the good ones: whole grains and produce contain nutrients and fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer. Bad, processed carbs (cookies, white bread) usually provide no nutrients, and because you digest them quickly, they can cause a dip in blood sugar. This can leave you hungry and may lead to weight gain.
Best Picks: Fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains (brown and wild rice, oatmeal, and quinoa), whole-wheat bread or pasta (look for 100 percent whole wheat on the label)
Cut Back On: Bagels, cake, candy, cookies, fruit juice, honey, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, regular pasta, soda, sweetened tea, table sugar (brown or white), white bread, white rice.
Top Myths: Carbs make you fat. Calories that come from carbohydrates – good or bad – are stored as fat only if you eat more than your body needs. So go for the good carbs, and eat an amount that fits your activity level. If you are a moderately active person, you can have a serving or two of grains at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Limit sweet snacks to 250 calories. Love pasta? Exercise more.
Fascinating Fact: The fiber in whole grains not only helps with controlling your weight, but it also keeps your digestive system and heart healthy and may protect against diabetes.