| By Irina Belfer-Lehat

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. They seem to be getting the blame for the obesity problem throughout the world. As a dietitian, I am asked frequently if carbohydrates are the reason for weight gain. The total calories a person consumes per day, high fat and a lack of physical activity is the reason for obesity and weight gain, not the carbohydrates.

Most people are so scared of this food group that they just decided to avoid it altogether! One of my clients, a top-ranked tennis player, was avoiding carbohydrates and just ate proteins all day long. This resulted in no energy, weakness and fatigue on the court. His problem was quickly fixed by adjusting his diet with the proper amounts of carbohydrates and fluids.

To simplify, there are two types of carbohydrates “Bad Carbs” are simple carbohydrates that are to be avoided. They have very little nutritional value and can impact your performance.

Examples of Bad Carbs include:

►Flavored teas
►Energy drinks
►Potato chips
►White bread
►Candy/ice cream/sweets
►Crackers or anything with enriched wheat flour

“Good Carbs” are complex carbohydrates and are slow-digesting carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are used by your body as a long-term energy source and are less likely to be stored as body fat. This is because they won’t spike your blood sugar like simple sugars and other bad carbohydrates may do. Complex carbohydrates are typically high in dietary fiber, so they are digested much slower and are able to be used as efficient fuel for your body.

Examples of Good Carbs include:

►Sweet potatoes
►Whole wheat
►Rolled oats
►Whole grains
►Black beans or legumes
►Starchy vegetables

By consuming complex carbohydrates, you will greatly enhance your body’s energy levels and become a much healthier person.

March is “National Nutrition Month.” It is important for everyone to get a complete analysis and an individualized meal plan.

Irina Belfer-Lehat

Irina Belfer-Lehat of Nutrition Solutions Co. is a New York State-licensed dietitian and certified dietitian-nutritionist. Irina Lehat RD Nutrition Solutions offers group classes starting in September, for kids in kindergarten through high school. Small groups, affordable prices! Mention this article and receive 20 percent off any services. For more information, call (917) 769-8031, e-mail irinalehat@gmail.com or visit www.irinalehat.com.