Carbohydrates are naturally occurring fibers, starches and sugars found in food. Carbs, like protein and fats, are a macronutrient. This means that they have to be consumed in reasonably large amounts to be transformed into energy for your body. In fact, carbohydrates are a primary energy source. Here’s where it gets confusing: If they are so beneficial to the body, why should you avoid carbs after weight loss surgery? 

Understanding Carbs

There are three forms or carbohydrates: fiber, starch and sugar. The total carbs measurement on a nutrition label is the combination of these three forms. When counting carbs, you subtract fiber from the rest of your carbs to get your net carbs. 

Fiber is the best type of carbohydrate; it has no calories because it is not digested. It also helps pass food through your body. Fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and supplements. 

Starches are minimally processed whole foods that include potatoes, barley, corn, lentils, squash, rice, whole wheat, beans and such. 

Sugar comes in two types. Naturally occurring sugars are like the sugars found in fruits and milk. Added sugars are found in things like juices, sodas and desserts. 

Carbs come in two categories: simple carbs and complex carbs. Complex carbs are high-fiber, starchy foods. They contain minerals and vitamins and provide more sustainable levels of energy than simple carbs. Other than providing extra energy for an endurance-type event, simple carbohydrates are typically bad for you because they only contain one or two types of sugars and no minerals or vitamins. 

Carbs After Weight Loss Surgery

Consuming carbohydrates after weight loss surgery is not bad. What is important is understanding the difference between which carbs are good and which carbs are bad and then eating them in moderation. Good carbs are foods like whole grains, vegetables and legumes. They contain high fiber and are low in calories. Bad carbs are high in calories, low in fiber and are typically packaged and processed. 

It is always vital to follow the directions of your physician, but a good recommendation is that if you are more than one year out from your weight loss surgery, 50 to 75 grams of carbs and less than 15 grams of sugar per day are good for continued weight loss. If you begin feeling sluggish, make sure you’re eating more complex carbs and always consult with your dietitian or bariatric surgeon if you are concerned about gaining weight. 

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