Carbs: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Carbs: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

An Unrequited Love Story

Shakespeare may have once famously written, ”For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Clearly,he never knew of the tragic love story between carbs and the waistline.

Carbohydrates. What are they? Why are they so delicious? And why do they get a bad rap?

Let’s break it down. A carbohydrate is defined as “any large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose.”1 An easier way to explain this is that “carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products.”2  

These compounds can be grouped into two different categories: simple and complex. 

Simple Carbohydrates (a.k.a. The “Bad” Carbohydrates)

Simple carbohydrates, also known as refined carbs, can be found naturally in milk products, fruits and vegetables. However, they are also found in foods containing processed and refined sugars such as soft drinks, baked goods, and cereal. The latter is what gives carbs a bad reputation, as those type of foods can be unhealthy for your body and lead to disease if too many are consumed. This is because refined and processed sugars are considered “empty calories”, meaning they do not have vitamins, minerals or fiber, which can lead to weight gain.3

Complex Carbohydrates (a.k.a. The “Good” Carbohydrates) 

Complex carbohydrates, also known as polysaccharides, are known to digest slower than simple carbs and are packed full of nutrients for your body. That makes these foods more filling, which helps aid in weight control.4 It also helps in providing the body more energy over longer periods of time.5 A few examples of complex carbohydrates are broccoli, grains, and beans.

If you’re still unsure what makes certain carbs “good” versus “bad”, some helpful distinctions are as follows:6

Bad carbs are: 

  • High in calorie density
  • Full of refined sugars, like corn syrup, white sugar, honey and fruit juices
  • High in refined grains like white flour
  • Low in many nutrients
  • Low in fiber
  • High (often very high) in sodium
  • Sometimes high in saturated fat
  • Sometimes high in cholesterol and trans fats

Good carbs are:

  • Low or moderate in calorie density
  • High in nutrients
  • Devoid of refined sugars and refined grains
  • High in naturally occurring fiber
  • Low in sodium
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Very low (often zero) cholesterol, and no trans fats

The Benefits of Carbs on the Body

While not all carbs are created equal, our bodies do need them to function. In fact, the right type of carbs can help benefit our bodies in multiple ways.

1. Heart Health

Carbohydrates high in fiber help lower LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels7, which  can contribute to a plaque-like deposit that clogs arteries and makes them less flexible.

2. Weight Loss

Again, the right type of carbohydrates can help with weight loss due to fiber. Dietary fiber helps the body feel full8. Therefore, you’re less likely to over eat.

3. Mental Health 

This is tricky because there have been studies showing both positive and negative effects of carbohydrates on the brain. It’s not exactly about carbs in general, but the type of carbs you’re consuming – do you see a trend here? Stick with complex carbohydrates over simple.

The Takeaway 

The important thing to keep in mind is that there are three different types of carbohydrates: starch, sugar and fiber. Furthermore, carbohydrates can be broken down into two categories known as simple and complex. Depending on your own unique body composition and health history, it may be best to consult your doctor before deciding what changes to make in your diet.

Interested in finding out more about carbohydrates and their effect on the body? Check out some other Living Healthy articles on the topic below!

When Cutting Carbs Becomes Extreme | Q+A

‘Healthy’ Carbohydrates for Weight Loss – fact or fiction?

Low Carb Food Choices | Q+A

No Carb Diet? Think Twice, You Need Carbohydrates to Survive!

Is it true that I need to limit my fruit consumption because fruits are high in sugar and carbohydrates?


  2. Szalay, Jessie. “What Are Carbohydrates?” LiveScience. Purch, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 June 2017.
  3. Ibid
  4. Cherney, Kristeen. “Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates.” Healthline. Healthline Media, 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 21 June 2017.
  5. Rodriguez, Diana. “Good vs. Bad Carbohydrates.” Everyday Health, 07 June 2017. Web. 21 June 2017.
  6. Killoran, Eugenia. “Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs – What Are You Eating?” Web. 2017.
  7. Szalay, Jessie. “What Are Carbohydrates?” LiveScience. Purch, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 June 2017.
  8. Ibid

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Is Running Negatively Affecting Your Knees?

Is Running Negatively Affecting Your Knees?

Fun runs, 5ks, half marathons, and full marathons usually spark either excitement or dread into the hearts of those who love running or those who despise it. Whether you’re a seasoned runner, or you enjoy quick 30 minute jogs on the treadmill, the warning that running can be harmful or your knees is something most everyone has heard.

A Closer Look at Running Assumptions

1. Does running cause osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when your bones becomes brittle and frail, due to loss of tissue. While  some have argued that running increases the risk of developing osteoporosis further down the  line, it is not entirely true.  Many other outside factors like genetics, weight, diet & previous  injuries may all have an effect, and play into whether or not a runner will develop the disease.1

2. Is running unhealthy for pregnant women?

Not necessarily and here’s why: running “can help ease delivery and encourage the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the developing fetus.”2 Most women can walk, jog, and run up until the third trimester; some can even run through it.3 However, since everyone’s body type is different, always consult your doctor before engaging in a new fitness routine, especially if you are pregnant.

3. Does running cause joint inflammation?

According to a study done by co-author Matt Seeley, an associate professor of exercise at  Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, he and fellow BYU colleagues, as well as Dr. Eric   Robinson of Intermountain Healthcare, measured the typical knee joint fluid found in selected  healthy men and women aged 18-35, both before running and after. They found that two  markers they were looking for,  two cytokines named GM-CSF and IL-15, actually decreased  in the subjects after 30 minutes of running.4 This study indicates that for young and healthy  individuals, running may help create an anti-inflammatory environment that may benefit joint health long-term. Of course, everyone’s body handles things differently. If you feel like running is  causing inflammation in your knees, speak with your physician.

Fun Fact!

Did you know? You don’t necessarily have to carb load before a race. Sorry to break the news to pasta lovers out there, but carb-loading really only helps if you’re running a half marathon or longer.5 This is because carbs are stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver, where they act as energy. Running a 5k or 10k will not cause your body to need the extra glycogen. For most of us, our bodies already have enough carbs stored up to get us through the smaller races.

!! Tips for Runners

  • Concrete can be hard on the knees, try running on asphalt or a rubberized running track. Softer surfaces can help absorb a bit of the impact.6 An indoor treadmill may help too.
  • If you want to decrease your chances of hurting yourself from running, add strength training to your routine to help build up your muscles.7
  • Don’t push your body too hard too soon. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to build up strength and endurance before increasing your speed or distance to prevent injuries that may be avoided.


  1. Karp, Ph.D. Jason R. “Running Is Bad for Your Knees and Other Top Running Myths.” N.p., 05 Feb. 2016. Web. 15 June 2017.
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Hollingshead, Todd. “Study: Running Actually Lowers Inflammation in Knee Joints.” Brigham Young University. N.p., 09 May 2017. Web. 15 June 2017.
  5. Karp, Ph.D. Jason R. “Running Is Bad for Your Knees and Other Top Running Myths.” N.p., 05 Feb. 2016. Web. 15 June 2017.
  6. Strong, Debbie. “What 6 Joint Docs Say About Running.” Everyday Health, 28 May 2015. Web. 15 June 2017.
  7. Keprotica. “Strength Training For Runners: How To Do It Right.” N.p., 05 Apr. 2016. Web. 15 June 2017.

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.


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What You Didn’t Know About Aqua Fit

What You Didn’t Know About Aqua Fit

Splish, splash, it’s time for an Aqua Fit class!

Aqua Fit is a Group Fitness class unlike any other. In case you didn’t know, the entire class takes place in the pool, which is a perfect way to get your workout in while keeping cool. While many might interpret Aqua Fit as an easy class, it may not be as simple as you think it is. Working out in the water does help put less of a strain on the muscles, which may help make it an easier work out on the body. However, weights are still used, and muscle is still built, but the weights you use are specially designed for the water. If you can imagine mini boat propellers, that may be the best way to describe water weights. These weights help add resistance to your workout as you move through that refreshing H20. As you push and pull the water dumbbells through the water, you strengthen your core and challenge hard to target muscles.

For those of you who are still skeptics on whether or not Aqua Fit would be the right fit for you, we interviewed Aqua Fit Group Fitness cycle instructor, Ilke E.W. Ilke is a Stage III breast cancer survivor and lacked the motivation to work out after her cancer treatments. The only way she could get a workout in without overexerting her joints was in the water. She started participating in aqua dance fitness. She lost over 50 lbs., adopted healthy habits, and became a certified Group Fitness instructor, which helped her continue to stay motivated with her healthy new life choices. Ilke shared with us her views on exactly what Aqua Fit is, who Aqua Fit benefits and why you should give it a try.

“[Aqua Fit is] a never-ending party while you get healthier and more fit without even knowing it.”

Ilke E.W.

Aqua Fit Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

Q: What sets Aqua Fit apart from other fitness classes?

Ilke E.W.: In an Aqua Fit class, you perform large muscle movements by reaching your arms and lifting your legs in the water as well as circling your hips and shoulders with the resistance of water added.  Furthermore, water gives support in terms of balance, minimizing the potential for injury to the muscles and joints.  In a land-based exercise, you do not have that.

Q: Would you recommend aqua fit for all age groups? If so, what would you like our younger members to know about it?

I.E.W.: Unfortunately, there is a myth among young groups that Aqua Fit is only for “grandma” while she does her thing in the water wearing a flowered swim cap. I can convince any millennial if she/he did ten minutes of my class in the water. First off, the workout is intense, as intense as you would like to make it. It combines both cardio and resistance and can be even more challenging because you are doing jumping jacks, leg lifts, and arm movements with the added resistance of the water. With the added benefit of dance fitness, a young person can stay motivated doing challenging and greater motions with their bodies in the safety of the water dancing to the tunes they hear every day.

Q: Why chose Aqua Fit over other aerobic options?

I.E.W.: Working out in an Aqua Fit class during the week will add variety and minimize burn out for members. Adding more resistance into a workout with the safety of the water will encourage members to push themselves even harder when they know they probably will not get hurt doing challenging moves.

Q: What does Aqua Fit mean to you?

I.E.W.: Aqua Fit means a healthy choice while I have fun doing it in a party atmosphere, while it does not feel like a work out or a job.

“Do not be afraid of trying Aqua Fit.  It is for everyone who can go in the water.  Furthermore, you will be less intimidated in the beginning, since nobody can see what you are doing under the water.”

Ilke E.W.

Aqua Fit Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

Ilke and LAF member, Joe G.

Q: Please expand briefly, on how those with breast cancer can benefit from an Aqua Fit class. What does it help with?

I.E.W.: After any surgery or injury, not limited to mastectomies, most people must go through physical therapy to gain back the mobility in their joints and muscles. Usually a physical therapist gives a patient homework to do at home in addition to going to a PT center. These exercises can be more easily done in the water, helping to minimize further injury and maximize the challenge with the resistance of the water.  Particularly with breast cancer patients who went through mastectomies or lumpectomies, the mobility of the arms is quite limited. They may also develop scar tissue in the breast area that cannot be freed up and further hinders mobility of the arms. One way to gain mobility can be with targeted Aqua Fit exercises in the water.

Member Testimonials: 

Ilke with friend, and LAF Member, Kathy K.

LAF Member & Aqua Fit Advocator, Luisa C.

Susan P. enjoys Ilke’s Aqua Fit class because of the “fun, socialization, [and] support.”

“Ilke’s classes are engaging, fun, and a terrific workout.”

Kathy K.

LA Fitness member

“I came to Aqua Fit after I broke my ankle and stayed for the fun and camaraderie and Ilke’s great personality and inspirational methods.”

Gloria C.

LA Fitness member

“If you want to have a good time come to Aqua Fit.”

Joe G.

LAF Member

“The place is clean and the Aqua Fit classes are wonderful in particular. Ilke […] motivates us with her contagious smile.”

Luisa C.

LAF Member

Joe G. also shared that the class is like a mini family and community. They sometimes get breakfast together after classes, and have holiday themed classes. It’s like being at a party with some of your closest friends.

If you want to check out an Aqua Fit class and see if it’s a good fit for you, find a location near you that offers the class here*! Don’t forget that Aqua Fit is a fun, yet challenging water aerobics workout that is offered for members of all ages. It’s a unique way to switch up your typical workout routine – so stop on by and give it a try!

*Classes and amenities vary by location.

This article is not meant to be construed as medical or nutritional advice. Consult with your physician before starting a new fitness routine.

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Member Spotlight | Hoops and Heart

Member Spotlight | Hoops and Heart

Hoops and Heart

A shared love for fitness and basketball led to a mutual attraction between Lane and Susan C. Having met on the Clemson University basketball court back in college, their enjoyment of the sport influenced their decision to join LA Fitness, which offers Club Leagues basketball – a fun way for them to stay active together.

Where Their Journey Began 

Lane C.* joined LA Fitness in the fall of 2008, primarily to have a place to practice and play basketball. However, after being a member for a while, Lane started to utilize other amenities like the cardio and weight equipment, and the Pro Results® Personal Training program**. Since joining LA Fitness, Lane has lost 15 pounds and notices positive changes in his physical health now that he’s made fitness a part of his daily routine. Lane hopes to lose another 15-18 pounds and increase his cardio endurance, flexibility and agility.

His wife, Susan C., has been playing basketball since high school and used to work out with her fellow teammates at a local LA Fitness where she used to live in Marietta, GA. When she moved out to California years later, she continued working out at LA Fitness in order to maintain her workout routine and healthy lifestyle. Another huge draw for Susan was the Club Leagues basketball league. Lane was already involved in the league, so she decided to join too so that she could participate in league games with him.

“Always keep your fitness goal in mind. Even if it’s late on a Friday night, I ask myself if it means more for me to eat a bag of chips or be able to jump without added weight or inflammation come Monday afternoon. The benefits of fitness always outweigh the “cons” not only physically but also mentally. Plus, there are plenty of good alternatives to things we enjoy which, in some cases, I’ve come to enjoy just as much if not more. Stay focused.”

Lane C. 

The Group League Experience 

Lane and Susan shared that their involvement in the league has led to many close friendships over the years. Susan notes that her experience in Club Leagues basketball “creates a comradery and a social circle in and of itself, and that has been an added bonus.” Lane added that “it gives [them] the opportunity to play in a competitive, well-organized format which [they] enjoy.” He went on to add, “One of the highlights of my day is getting off work and meeting her at the gym for a ‘shoot-around’ warmup and workout.”

Aside from basketball, Susan enjoys the Group Fitness cycle classes** that are included with LA Fitness memberships. She explained to me that cycling helps her with her endurance and helps build and maintain her leg muscles, which helps her stay strong and avoid injury on the basketball court. Susan hopes to tone up her muscles and maintain her cardio and endurance levels so she’s always ready  should a spontaneous game of basketball arise. Her main goal is to find a routine of cardio, strength and circuit exercises that she could realistically commit to with her busy work schedule.

When asked what piece of fitness advice she could give to others, Susan shared:

“Not to get discouraged if you get off track. There are always going to be things that get in the way (vacations, crazy work hours, family time, etc.), and if I get off track one week or two, I oftentimes struggle with wanting to check out mentally because I feel like I have lost my momentum or progress. That can snowball into a longer period of time if you don’t catch yourself. The truth is, a day or two, or even a week or two will not derail your goals, and the quicker you get back on track the better you will feel. Try to fight the negative thinking the best you can and just get back into your routine the next chance you get so you don’t find yourself with regret because you waited too long.”

Lane C., Susan C., and team, from their winning basketball championship game. June 2014.

Sweet Inspiration

We asked Susan and Lane to share with us something that inspires them about the other, and this is what they had to say:

I’m always inspired by Lane’s commitment to playing basketball and/or working out several times a week, no matter how busy he is. For him, it’s a given that he will find a way to work it into his schedule. I’m also inspired by his ability to connect and get along with so many different people. He is a staple at the LA Fitness basketball courts and has the respect of a lot of the regulars there and other nearby LA Fitness gyms, so I’m always proud to tell someone that he is my husband. Basketball is a competitive sport and can get heated, but he always conducts himself in a way that makes me proud to tell people I’m his wife.  He also has never made me feel out of place for being the only girl out there. He embraces it and embraces me as his teammate and I love that – just like he and I do in our marriage.

Susan C.

I am constantly inspired by Susan’s work ethic and her ability to prioritize. Regardless of what life throws at her, she always gets the priorities accomplished. She also encourages me to eat well and maintain an active lifestyle. She played D1 college basketball and understands the benefits of fitness. Because of that, she inspires me to push harder than I might otherwise because she knows what’s on the other side of all that effort and sacrifice. I’m also very fortunate that my wife loves the game of basketball as much as me. We’ve been able to play together in a number of leagues together and make many mutual friends along the way. Additionally, she is one of the most genuine people I know, and that carries over to every aspect of her life whether it be fitness, work, basketball, etc. She genuinely cares about what is in the best interest of others, and I think that has a lot to do with the reason she is able to maintain at such a high level.  Selfishness drains a person of many things, but she’s one of the most selfless people I know.

Lane C.

No doubt, the basketball-loving duo will help each other stay on track and reach their own personal fitness goals.

*While the opinions herein are Lane and Susan’s own, Lane is an employee of LA Fitness and receives a free membership in connection with his employment.

**Classes and amenities vary by location and may be subject to an additional fee.

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Staying Healthy While Vacationing

Staying Healthy While Vacationing

Vacations can sometimes be just the break you need. They help us de-stress and relax. However, too much down time can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean your health choices have to go downhill. Be mindful of the nutrition and fitness choices you make while away to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of course, you don’t have to have a strict diet and exercise routine while you’re in vacation mode, but it’s important that you continue to care about your health while you’re away.

Here are some tips for staying healthy while on vacation:

  1. Stay Active – Try engaging in activities that will help keep you moving. Book activities where you’ll be staying active or on the go. Explore the area. Even the simplest of movement is better than sitting around or spending too much time laying around in bed.
  2. All Things in Moderation – It’s vacation, so let’s be honest, you’re not going to be healthy 24/7. Most likely a tasty beverage or two is in your future, and yummy buffets tend to dominate the dining options when traveling. Try limiting yourself to only a plate full of your favorites and keep drinking within a healthy limit.
  3. Bonus tip: Also, when eating out, ask the waiter to pack up half the meal and eat it later. This may help you resist the urge to overeat. For more helpful nutrition tips check out our post How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out.
  4. Walk, Walk, & Walk Some More – It may be in your best interest to walk as often as possible, and whenever it’s possible. Opt for traveling via foot instead of using public transportation and even consider opting out of renting a car. You’ll be burning extra calories as you walk without even realizing it!
  5. H20 On The Go – Make sure you drink plenty of water! Staying hydrated not only helps our bodies feel more full, but it helps keep them functioning properly. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which makes our bodies feel sluggish and can even make us sick. Avoid feeling lethargic while you’re away by always keeping some water with you.
  6. Pack Snacks – It’s important to keep some snacks on hand to help ensure your body has the energy it needs for all the vacation fun that lies ahead! Eating small, healthy snacks in between meals can also help keep your metabolism up. If your room has a fridge, you may want to keep some of these healthy go-to snacks on hand.
  7. Rest Up – Not getting enough rest can actually do a lot of harm. This is your vacation so make sure you’re letting your body get the rest and relaxation it deserves. Proper rest helps keep our bodies from getting overly exhausted and refreshes the body mentally as well.
  8. Take Fitness With You – The common rule while on vacation is to keep cell phones turned off so you can properly tune out. While that may be nice for 90% of your trip, you may want to consider streaming our free LA Fitness workout videos, which you can find on our YouTube channel*. They can help you stick to your fitness routine, even while you’re away.

If you prefer keeping your work out at the gym while you’re away, members with multi-club, multi-state access can enjoy over 650+ LA Fitness locations to help keep fitness at your fingertips. Another helpful tip is that if you are a part of our Pro Results® Training Program**, ask your trainer to help you create a fitness plan for your upcoming vacation. Remember, have fun while you’re away, but stay active too! To find a club near you, click here!

*Data charges may apply.

**Classes and amenities vary by location, and may be subject to an additional fee.

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