top of page

Are White Carbs Bad For You?

are white carbs bad for you?

According to and the USDA, it is recommended to consume at least half of our grains from whole grains (which, let's be real, most Americans are not). Eating too many refined carbohydrates/white products, especially in the form of white flour, cookies, breads, pasta, cereals, etc. has been associated with increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases and cancers. Making sure at least half your grains are whole grain, can be a fairly simple switch. Think: whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, etc. These little changes can make a big difference in your overall diet. So this begs the bigger question, "Are white carbs bad for me?" We'll be answering this later in today's article.

What's the difference between white grains and whole grains?

It's important to understand the differences between grains. Grains are divided into two sub-groups: whole grains and refined grains. 100% whole wheat/whole grain products contain contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains also contain dietary fiber (important for bowel function and for providing a feeling of "fullness"), as well as vitamins and minerals - including several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate),and iron and magnesium. All of these nutrients above play vital roles in the body including helping the body release energy from the foods we eat (B vitamins), helps the body form RBC's (folate), carrying oxygen in the blood (iron) and aid in building bones (magnesium). Refined grains on the other hand, have been milled, which is a process that removes the bran and germ. But it also removes those key nutrients - dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. You can find grains that have been enriched, like "enriched white bread". Enriched simply means that certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron have been added back. However, fiber is not added back to enriched grains.

The best time to eat refined/white grains is pre or post workout. As far as general resistance and weight training goes, it's ideal to eat a pre/post workout meal that is low in fiber to ensure your muscles receive the fuel from your food as quickly as possible! As we've learned, whole grains contain vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps slows down the digestion and absorption of the foods we eat, which also helps stabilize our blood sugar levels as well. White/refined products however, lack the fiber (and nutrients). Due to the lack of fiber content, a plain, white bagel (for example) is optimal to consume as a pre or post workout carbohydrate.

So what does all of this mean in relation to our diet? Should I never eat refined grains again?

Absolutely not (unless you have a medical reason that states otherwise.) Part of finding balance with food is shifting away from diet culture, away from strict food rules and unsustainable diets, and instead learning that all foods can fit in a healthy, well-rounded diet, and that includes white rice, plain white bagels, english muffins, ice cream and chips! It's equally important to choose foods you genuinely prefer and enjoy eating. I personally don't like the texture of brown rice and will choose white rice every single time! But if I choose white rice, I make sure to consume whole grains at a different meal. Remember, what you eat the majority of the time matters most!

Hope this helps!

bottom of page