What Are Carbs?

To know how many carbohydrates you eat, you need to be clear about which foods are primarily carbohydrates and which contain enough carbs that they require counting.

Carbs are found in:

  • grains (breads, pasta, cereals)
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • root crops (potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams)
  • beer, wine, and some hard liquors
  • desserts and candies
  • most milk products, except cheese
  • -ose foods, like sucrose, fructose, maltose

In a healthy diet, most carbohydrates come from nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods and complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, legumes, vegetables, nonfat or low-fat milk, and yogurt contain a high volume of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein in proportion to their calorie content. These micro-ingredients process glucose correctly and prevent the deficiencies that generate “carb craving.” They also tend to be lower on the glycemic index.

In contrast, low-nutrient foods like candy and regular sodas contain carbs but lack other nutrients your cells require. Foods that contain simple sugars or refined grains are high on the glycemic index and more likely to spike your glucose. Small amounts are OK. Nutrient-dense foods like brown rice and broccoli are always better for your health and your glucose readings.