Ask the RD

by Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD on Jan 18, 2012

Food for Thought

What is the difference between “good” carbs and “bad” carbs?

Answer: Carbohydrates (carbs) are the body’s main source of energy. However, all carbs are not created equal. Telling them apart can improve your health and performance. Examples of “good” carbs are whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and low-fat dairy. In other words, “good” carbs are nutrient-rich foods that offer the body more than energy. They come packaged with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. In comparison, “bad” carbs are nutrient-poor refined grains, such as baked goods, sweetened beverages and candy. These foods contribute a large amount of empty calories to the typical American diet. Usually devoid of fiber, they are digested quickly and cause a spike in blood sugars. In an effort to lower fat, Americans tend to replace fat calories with refined grains. Instead of generally promoting a low-fat diet, the new Dietary Guidelines recommend replacing saturated and trans fat with poly- and mono-unsaturated fat sources. Foods to eat more of include all of the “good” carbs: whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.

Fitness Journal, Volume 9, Issue 1

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About the Author

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD IDEA Author/Presenter

You can pose your own question to our contributing editor Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and worksite wellness consultant with Presbyterian Health Plan. Please send your questions, along with your name and city/state/country, to editor Sandy Webster at