Are There Any Good Carbs?

Ive lengthy espoused a reasonably low-carb way of life for optimum well being, however low-carb means various things to totally different folks.

For some, it means consuming the fewest carbs attainable, as in a strict carnivore eating regimen or one thing extra like carniflex, a meat-centric method that strategically contains some vegetation.

For others, it means a keto or Atkins-style eating regimen that restricts carb consumption.

Some folks dont rely carbs in any respect however nonetheless think about themselves low-carb as a result of they eat principally meat, eggs, and greens, and so they restrict issues like grains, fruit, legumes, and added sugars. Sound acquainted? Thats the traditional Primal or paleo method.

What all these low-carb people have in widespread is that they should resolve what to eat day in and day trip. Thinking about meals on a regular basis can turn into tedious, particularly when youre making an attempt out a brand new approach of consuming and dont know whats allowed. Its tempting to type meals into discrete classes based mostly on macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) and high quality (good versus dangerous meals) to cut back choice fatigue.

Ultimately, although, that method is just too simplistic. There are at all times going to be grey areas in the case of meals. But the human mind does like to put issues in classes, so lets discuss this concept of ​​good carbs versus dangerous carbs.

Not All Carbs Are Created Equal: Good Carbs Versus Bad Carbs

First, lets be clear: carbohydrates are a element of meals, not a meals group unto themselves. When folks discuss with carbs, as in I dont eat carbs, they actually imply that they keep away from sure meals (bread and pasta, for instance) or they restrict their each day carb consumption.

Now that thats out of the best way, some sources of carbohydrates are higher than others. Its not nearly how a lot carbohydrate a given meals accommodates. You cannot choose a meals purely by its macronutrient content material. I like protein, however Im not going to knowingly eat rooster raised in a grimy cage and fed nothing however pesticide-ridden corn, despite the fact that its high-protein. You have to take a look at the larger image.

Rather than making an attempt to type meals into good and dangerous classes, think about the next questions:

  • Does this meals supply one thing else my physique wants moreover carbsprotein, wholesome fat, nutritional vitamins, minerals?
  • Are there downsides to consuming this? Do these carbs come packaged with different compounds that may detract from my well being (like gluten if youre gluten-sensitive, as I imagine many or most individuals are)?
  • Are there higher sources of the great things that dont have the potential downsides?

With these questions as a place to begin, we are able to make some generalizations.

Dont Get Your Carbs from Grains

Yes, grains present some vitamins (and theyre typically fortified throughout processing). But they don’t seem to be the most effective supply of these vitamins, and so they include vital well being considerations. Ive coated these considerations extensively prior to now, so I wont rehash them right here. If youre new to those elements, begin with this publish and this publish.

Vegetables Are A Superior Source of Carbohydrates

The advantages of consuming greens far outweigh any considerations about their carbohydrate content material. (And sure, I do know that carnivores can have a bone to select with that, no pun supposed.)

Youll wish to emphasize lower-carb greens if youre proscribing your whole carb consumption as a result of youre enjoying round with keto, for instance. These are your above-ground, non-starchy varieties: leafy greens, cruciferous greens, cucumbers, asparagus, peppers, and the like. However, root greens and tubers are additionally full of vitamins and are lower-carb than most grain-based objects.

Other Worthy Sources of Carbs


Mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops every comprise about half a gram of carbohydrate, relying on the scale. Not a lot, however when have you ever ever eaten only one mussel? A can of smoked oysters accommodates someplace round 8 grams of carbs the identical as six giant strawberries or a cup of cubed watermelon.

These hardly qualify as high-carb meals, however Im sticking them on the record as a result of most individuals are shocked to listen to they’ve any carbs in any respect. (Youll generally see keto specialists say that you need to keep away from them because of this, however thats nonsense.)


The Primal stance on fruit has at all times been to prioritize in-season (and natural or pesticide-free when attainable), however in any other case, be happy to eat fruit in accordance with your preferences. Fruit is usually a great choice for athletes who wish to improve their carb consumption throughout high-volume coaching and racing.

Dried fruit is a barely totally different story resulting from its concentrated energy and sugar content material. Its fairly straightforward to throw again a whole bunch of energy of path combine made with nuts and dried fruit. That may be okay on a protracted hike, however its not ultimate if youre mindlessly consuming in your commute. Also, dried fruit is commonly processed with canola or different seed oils, plus added sugar, so thats one thing to be careful for.


People are shocked to search out that Im not adamantly against greens. Going again to these questions I requested above, greens are fairly first rate sources of vitamins like folate, copper, and magnesium, amongst others. They do comprise lectins and phytic acid, each of that are thought of antinutrients, however any adversarial results are largely mitigated by soaking, sprouting, or strain cooking greens.

All in all, my stance on greens is that I would not make them a dietary centerpiece, however if you wish to add a scoop of black beans to your burrito bowl, go for it. Vegetables pack extra carbs than greens, although, so issue that in if youre counting carbs.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat In a Day?

Most folks consuming a Primal eating regimen wealthy in animal merchandise, a wide range of greens, nuts and seeds, possibly some full-fat dairy, and wise indulgences like darkish chocolate will naturally land within the vary of 50 to 150 grams of carbs per daykind of.

Once the common particular person begins to go a lot above that, it turns into tougher to take care of metabolic well being. Thats not simply all the way down to the variety of carbs, although. The extra carbs you eat, the extra hyper-processed, grain-based, and/or high-sugar meals and drinks youre in all probability consuming.

Note that I mentioned the common particular person in different phrases, somebody who’s desk-bound, principally sedentary, and struggles with persistent well being points. An energetic, metabolically wholesome particular person has extra leeway. A really energetic, high-calorie burner who repeatedly depletes their glycogen shops can in all probability eat significantly extra carbs with no destructive repercussions, offered they’re doing the opposite issues essential to foster good well being (like balancing stress and relaxation and avoiding persistent cardio). In reality, endurance athletes would possibly even add some white rice or quinoa to restock glycogen and supply additional energy if they’ve good intestine well being to start out. Is it mandatory? Not in any respect. Id begin by consuming extra starchy greens and in-season fruit if I wished to deliberately up my carb consumption.

That mentioned, I by no means rely carbs myself except Im doing a little kind of self-experiment. I additionally dont exit of my approach to restrict carbs. Since I eat principally meat and greens, really feel improbable, and am pleased with my present physique composition and health degree, I dont discover it mandatory.

Why Do People Think Carbs Are Bad Then?

Because carbs has turn into shorthand for bread, pasta, and desserts.

Carbs in and of themselves are only a supply of power and substrate on your intestine microbes to metabolize. We get into bother once we eat them in extra and most of our carbs come from meals which are in any other case problematic.

What about Keto? Are All Carbs Bad on Keto?

Not in any respect. The Keto Reset method I like to recommend is just a lower-carb model of the common Primal consuming model. Youll must restrict carbs to 50 grams or much less per day to get into ketosis, however every little thing else Ive mentioned on this publish applies. Theres no purpose to concern the carb bogeyman on keto, any greater than if youre consuming Primally.

Keto people can get pleasure from all kinds of greens, and even some fruit, so long as they watch their whole carbohydrate consumption.

The Bottom Line

Rather than placing meals into “good” and “bad” classes, let’s attempt to make knowledgeable, extra nuanced selections about meals. Vilifying all carbohydrates is imprecise, and it doesnt assist people who find themselves simply making an attempt to be wholesome. We all need boundless power, superior intestine well being, and balanced hormones, proper? Then it is best to take into consideration:

  • Prioritizing nutrient-density
  • Learning which meals work greatest for you and which you could restrict or keep away from
  • Experimenting with macronutrient consumption and meals timing to search out your private candy spot

The different essential factor to recollect is that meals just isn’t the one think about good well being. Nitpicking your carb consumption whereas getting 5 hours of sleep an evening, sitting for hour upon hour with out shifting your physique, and drowning in persistent stress is unnecessary in any respect. Keep your eye on the large image.

Related posts from Marks Daily Apple

When Is The Best Time to Eat Carbs?

Dear Mark: Signs You Should Eat More Carbs

Why Does the Keto Reset Allow 50 Grams of Carbs?

*Post up to date 4/12/22


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founding father of Marks Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal meals and way of life motion, and the New York Times bestselling creator of The Keto Reset Diet. His newest e-book is Keto for Life, the place he discusses how he combines the keto eating regimen with a Primal way of life for optimum well being and longevity. Mark is the creator of quite a few different books as nicely, together with The Primal Blueprintwhich was credited with turbocharging the expansion of the primal/paleo motion again in 2009. After spending three a long time researching and educating people on why meals is the important thing element to reaching and sustaining optimum wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchena real-food firm that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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