Are carbs as bad as some would have us believe? To find out, we spoke with Registered Dietitian, Serena Hunt. [Spoiler alert: nope!]

It’s true that I’m a Registered Dietitian (RD), but sometimes I consider changing my title to “The Defender of Carbs.” Serena Marie, TDOC, rather than Serena Marie, RD. It has a nice ring to it, right?

Carbohydrates have a bad rap because they’re supposedly fattening. But what if I told you that diets containing carbohydrates from healthy sources are actually associated with maintaining a lower body weight? Yes, I’m serious.

Carbohydrates can be powerhouses of nutrient density. Remember, carbs do not only come in the form of bread and pasta, but also in incredibly healthy foods such as beans, lentils, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. When carbs are consumed from whole foods, they’re friends, not foes.

Minimally processed carbohydrates are loaded with fiber, which keep you fuller for longer, help your midsection stay slim, and provide prebiotics (aka food) to your microflora. In fact, the microflora break down the fiber from carbohydrates to produce butyric fatty acids, which then enter your bloodstream and help you burn fat!

Another good way to determine whether a carbohydrate is healthy is by considering if it contributes vitamins or minerals to the body.

When you eat, a chemical reaction takes place that turns food into stored or usable energy. After all, we don’t have microscopic falafel plates and kale smoothies swimming around our bloodstream! That chemical reaction uses up stored nutrients.

When you eat candy, you’re losing nutrients, since candy does not replace any of your vitamin or mineral stores. However, when you eat fruits, veggies, potatoes, beans, or any other whole food form of carb, you’re not only replacing the nutrients lost during the conversion process, but stocking the tank full of other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals! Your body is profiting from the consumption of a whole food carb, rather than losing out, and that protects your metabolism.

Like most things, quality and quantity matter, but the same holds true for protein and fat sources. Choose your carbs from whole food sources, stop eating when you’re full, and you’ll be sure to reap the fat-burning benefits of all three macronutrients; fat, protein and carbohydrates.

For more nutrition tips, find Serena on Instagram and Facebook!