This article has been updated since its initial publication to include more information from experts.
In order to promote and support a healthy metabolism, it’s essential to assess what you eat over the course of a day and recognize where you can add more nutrients and ultimately create a balanced diet. That said, it’s equally important to note which snacks make you feel sluggish, have less energy, or cause inflammation and indigestion.
We spoke to health experts to learn more about a common type of carb found in many processed snacks and drinks that’s best avoided for a healthy metabolism and optimal energy. Read on for tips and suggestions for Dana Ellis HunnesPhD, MPH, RD, Registered Dietitian and Melissa Morris, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and ISSN Certified Sports Nutritionist.
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The Ultimate Worst Carbohydrate: Added Sugars in Processed Foods
The least healthy type of carbohydrate to eat for a snack is an ultra-processed carbohydrate commonly found in packaged foods such as pastries (think Pop-Tarts, energy bars or baked goods), explains Hunnes. The reason these types of carbs aren’t good at any age, let alone over 40, she notes, is that they provide “no nutritional benefit, they’re often devoid of vitamins. and minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds”. This, she says, is terrible for the metabolism because it “leads to spikes in insulin, an increase in IGF-1, an inflammatory marker, and increases the risk of chronic disease and deposition (storage of fat ) of calories in the body”.
Morris agrees and said she believes “the worst types of carbs to eat at any age are added sugars,” found in sugary drinks, junk food, processed foods and desserts. “Added sugars just add extra calories without a lot of healthy nutrients,” she says, and points out that too much added sugar in the diet can also increase inflammation in the body; “It impacts the immune system and can increase the risk of many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.”
Instead of these types of carbs, Hunnes points out that “we’re better off eating the least processed carbs possible, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, in their natural, unprocessed form. transformed”. These, she says, are “not harmful to our metabolism and are anti-inflammatory, high in fiber and help regulate weight.”
Morris agrees and says it’s also important to understand the different types of carbs when creating a healthy diet after 40 to get the most out of them. “There are different types of carbs in the foods we eat, so we need to understand this concept first,” she says. “There are simple carbohydrates or simple sugars and there are complex carbohydrates,” she continues.
Some examples of simple carbohydrates that Morris lists are sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), and lactose (milk sugar). Complex carbohydrates are found in foods containing starches and fiber, she explains, and fruits, vegetables and grains contain complex carbohydrates. “Complex carbs take longer to digest, so they help us stay full longer. They also generally contain more vitamins and minerals than foods containing simple carbs,” she concludes. The more you know!
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