Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Carbs are usually cast as the villain in your diet plan. The way these fad diets depict it, carbs are the enemy, carbs are to be avoided. The truth of the matter is, the right carbs give you the energy and nutrients you need to power through your day.
Just like any food source, the more calories you consume the more likely you are to gain weight. If you eat a lot of carbs than your calorie count will increase. If you don’t use all those calories throughout your day (through exercise, regular activities, and digestion) than the remaining calories will be stored as fat. The same thing happens with proteins and fats. As they say, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
What are carbs?
To answer the question “what kind of carbs should I be eating?” let’s first take a minute to understand what we mean when we say “carbs”. Carbs or Carbohydrates are a macronutrient found in a lot of different kinds of foods. Carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes. All of these foods break down in the body into glucose or sugar. Your body uses this sugar as the primary source of energy so you can go about slaying your day.
What happens if you don’t eat carbs?
If you don’t eat carbs regularly as part of your diet your body is forced to use protein or fat as an energy source. You might be thinking, “Great! Burn up that fat!”. But when your body is forced to use fat as an energy source it creates byproducts in the blood called ketones which makes your blood more acidic. The prolonged use of fat as an energy source can actually be harmful to your body. When protein (the body’s third choice for energy) is broken down for energy use it is taking protein away from its favorite activity– building up your muscles and repairing tissue. Long story short, your body prefers to use glucose (or carbohydrates) as its energy source. Removing this as an option for your body is more harmful than effective.
So what should I be eating then?
A balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins is the way to go. When it comes to carbs, it’s exactly as you’d think. Limit the cakes, cookies, and brownies and opt for the more complex carbohydrates including the below options.
1. Whole grains
There are a lot of great nutrients found in whole grains, such as essential fatty acids, the B vitamins, folate, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium. Not to mention the health benefits of fiber, which help you digest and regulate your glucose levels. Make sure to grab that whole-grain bread over the white bread and the brown rice over the white rice. And definitely eat those oats! Products that advertise “100% whole grain” are the way to go and the easiest way to ensure you are getting those nutrients in your diet.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away as they say! It doesn’t surprise anyone to hear that fruit is healthy for you. With all those nutrients, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber they are a must-have in your daily diet. Some great options for health include bananas, grapefruit, apples, and blueberries.
3. Beans and legumes
Not only are beans and legumes a vegetarian’s best friend for protein, but they are also super healthy for you. Beans can help reduce cholesterol, decrease blood sugar, and increase healthy gut bacteria. Some yummy and healthy options include chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans.
4. Sweet potatoes
We rarely think about the sweet potato in comparison to its cousin the “normal” potato. But don’t forget about the sweet potato! The list of vitamins included in a sweet potato is a long one, including B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, magnesium, and the list goes on. Not only is it nutrient-rich but like the beans, they help promote a healthy digestion system and can reduce the risk of cancer.
Go nuts with the nuts! An excellent snack for both protein and carbohydrates, and they can be taken on the go. Not only are they a convenient snack but they help improve heart health by lowering your cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, and improving the lining of your arteries.
It’s time to stop listening to the carb-haters out there and stop feeling guilty for your love of carbs. Because after all, your body CRAVES carbs! Swap some of these healthy carbs into your diet, along with healthy fats and protein, and you have the trifecta of macronutrients at your disposal to power your day.
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