We’ve spent years waffling about the inherent evil of carbs, but how bad are they, really? We’ve all met people who claim to have lost tons of weight and whipped themselves in shape on a low-carb diet, like the Atkins Diet or the South Beach Diet. But then researchers concluded that eating a low-carb diet could affect your energy level, your mood, and even your ability to think clearly! Yikes!

The truth is, not all carbs are “good” or “evil”. In general, highly processed sources, think white bread, white pasta, donuts, etc. contain carbs that can be broken down quickly, spiking your blood sugar at a faster rate. This rapid rise (and subsequent rapid fall) in blood sugar can contribute to diseases like obesity and diabetes. These foods are referred to as “high-glycemic” because of the rapid rate at which the carbs are converted to sugar.

A “low-glycemic” food, on the other hand, contains complex carbs, and the body must work harder and longer to digest it, so your blood sugar level rises and falls more slowly. These types of foods include whole grain bread and whole oats.

The best way to make sure you’re getting the right kind of carbs is to draw them from unprocessed or minimally processed food sources. Carbs in your donut or soft drink? Bad. Carbs from beans, whole grain bread, or vegetables? Good. See how easy that is?

When you’re buying a product like bread or pasta, look for the label that says “100% whole grain”. Instead of your mushy white bread, try a whole-grain variety with filling fiber, protein, and essential vitamins; these types are actually healthy for you, filling you up so you won’t be craving a snack a mere hour after lunch. Now you can have your carbs and eat them too!