What Foods are Highest in Carbs to Avoid?
Max Carmody, MSc
Some of the foods highest in carbs to avoid include soft pretzels at 100 carbs, pancakes at 100 carbs, dulce de leche at 168 carbs, and some cereals at 90 carbs.
Carbs are not necessarily a bad thing. Carbohydrates are made of sugar, starches, and sugars. They are a type of macronutrient found in certain foods and drinks. They are actually the main source of energy for the body. They are founds in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk. All carbs are sugar molecules, and they come in two main types, simple molecules and complex molecules. Simple carbs are the simple sugars with basic structures like sucrose(table sugar), fructose(fruit), and lactose(milk). Complex carbs include more complex molecular structures, and are things like starches, like those in wheat and potato, and fibers, in vegetables and seeds and brown rice. Your body breaks down carbs into glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy for your body’s tissues, organs, and cells.
What carbs you want to avoid will depend exactly on what you’re doing. If you’re just trying to eat a generally healthy diet, or if you are trying to specifically go low carb. If you’re not specifically on a low carb diet, cutting cabs will not be as important to you, but eating too many carbs still isn’t good for anyone, no matter their dietary plan. Eating too many carbs can place a large metabolic load on your body. When there are constantly high levels of blood sugar in the body, this can lead to poor metabolic health, weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease. Keep in mind that most low carb diets advocate eating under 130 grams of carbs a day. If you would like to find out about the healthiest way to go on a low carb diet, you can find an article that I wrote about it here.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Carbs
According to some, all carbs are not created equal, there are “good carbs” and “bad carbs”. Simple carbs tend to be considered the bad kind. Simple carbs are lacking a lot of basic nutrients. They are digested quickly, and cause spikes in blood sugar and make you feel hungry sooner. Generally, as a rule of thumb, the “white” carbs are the bad ones. White bread, white rice, white flour. Also things like pastries and pastas. It is important to remember however, that not only white foods contain carbs. Sugars are also simple carbs, such as refined sugars, like white sugar, and added sugars, as in a can of soda. Not all simple carbs are unhealthy however. Some whole fruits and milk have simple carbs, yet are still healthy. If you would like to learn more about what the best foods to eat on a low carb diet are, you can find an article here that I wrote on the topic.
Complex carbs are usually considered to be the more healthy carbs. They are packed with things like bran and fiber that makes them be digested slower. Because they are not digested as fast, it leads to a more steady release of glucose, which prevents spikes in blood sugar. Complex carbs include things like oats, quinoa, nuts and seeds, whole grain bread, and legumes.
Foods High in “Bad” Carbs
The extent to which you avoid carbs will depend on whether you are on a low carb diet or not. If you are on a low carb diet, you may want to avoid even healthy carbs. However, if you are not on a low carb diet specifically, you may want to avoid even the relatively more healthy, complex carbs. Here, however, we will focus on the foods high in carbs that anyone can stand to avoid, or at least, be careful to only consume in moderation. If you would like to learn more about what you should not be eating on a low carb diet, you can find an article about it that I wrote here.
Soft pretzels are very high in white, refined carbs, they are made mostly from flour and have about 80 or even as much as 100 carbs. For someone on a low carb diet, this may be higher than the entire amount that they’ll eat daily. Even if you’re not on a low carb diet, it could put you close to the recommended carb limit for an average adult if you combine it with a couple other things.
A serving of 3 pancakes has around 100 grams of carbs.. Some cereals have around 90 grams of carbs per cup. A slice of french bread can have 72 grams of carbs. A cup of dulce de leche can have a whopping 168 grams of carbs.
I would not tell anybody to never eat these things again. I enjoy all of them quite a bit, especially soft pretzels and French bread, when I am not on a low carb diet. Although in the future when I am in the stage of maintaining weight, I will try to limit them. When I am on a low carb diet however, I definitely avoid all of these things. If you would like to find out more about what you CAN eat on a low carb diet though, here is an article I wrote about it.
Milk itself, plain, contains about 12 carbs per cup. However, some things made out of milk, like milkshakes and ice cream, can be very high in carbs. Milkshakes can contain 86 grams of carbs per a 12 oz serving. Soft serve ice cream can have up to 69 grams per serving.
Coffee drinks, such as the ones you find at starbucks, can be insidious. Some of those with the highest amount of carbs can have as many as 60-80. A lot of these probably come from the carbs from sugar and dairy. Baked goods can also have a lot of carbs. They are getting sweeter and more like cake. Some muffins can have more than 60 grams of carbs, and 30 grams of sugar, so the bad ones. Bagels can have about 55 grams of refined carbs, so these may be another thing to avoid, or eat in moderation.
There are plenty of other things that I haven’t mentioned here, that even though the numbers of carbs are not quite as high, are still unhealthy carbs and you will want to be avoiding on a low carb diet. These include things like french fries, and sugary sodas and fruit drinks.
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