Today we are answering a question that many of you have wondered about. In fact, one avid snapchatter sent this question in! Are carbs the DEVIL? Are ALL carbs bad? And what are good sourced of carbs?
In the post Atkins, Paleo world, carbs have been taking some HEAT. They are made to look like the bane of ALL evil! The fact is carbs are MISUNDERSTOOD. Carbohydrates are necessary and an excellent fuel source. They are much needed in our diet. Our brain and many of our body processes rely almost strictly on carbohydrates. Moreover, females (and their hormone balance) are also very reliant on carbs. So why hate on carbs so much?
First, let’s discuss the basics of food and nutrition.
All food breaks down into three macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram. Protein provides 4 calories as well while fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Carbohydrates can be further broken down into two types, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are refined ones like sugar or sugars found in fruit. Complex carbs includes starchy and fibrous carbs like rice, potatoes and vegetables.
The fact is both types of carbs have a place in our diet! Simple carbohydrates can be digested faster so are excellent in times of high activity (think weight lifting or that run around the block). On the other hand, complex carbs are slowly digested and excellent for basic human function and for recovery.
Now let’s talk carbohydrate sources! There is a very wide range of carbohydrate sources including grains, dairy, fruit, candy, and vegetables.
You should vary your sources of carbohydrates based on your goals, activity level, time of day and body type.
For example, a marathon runner should ideally have complex carbohydrates before a race but simple carbs during and after. A weight lifter could equally benefits from having complex carbs before and simple carbs after a workout.
Good sources of fibrous carbohydrates includes collard greens, kale, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and green beans. Most vegetables fall into the fibrous category and are excellent choices if your goal is lose weight.
Good sources of starchy carbs include rice, potatoes, squash, oats and beans. They are nutrient dense so excellent to have if you hit the gym on the regular and are looking to maintain or gain muscle.
As mentioned before, well balanced diet should include both simple and complex carbohydrates. The trick is to eat the eat the right amount for your body type and for your goals at the IDEAL time.
Not all carbs are bad: Here are some tips to help:
- Eat your heavier starchy carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats) around times of high activity or during the day.
- Eat simple carbs (best source of these is fruit) AFTER workouts to replenish glycogen
- Stick with ⅓ to ½ of starchy carbs per meal (unless you are a hardgainer, in which you can go all the way up to a cup cooked!)
- Stick one serving of simple carbs (one piece of fruit!)
- Steer away from simple carbs that have no nutritional value like table sugar, candy and other junk food.
That’s it! As you can see carbs are NOT evil and rather much needed in our diet. They are just misunderstood. It all comes down to meal timing and goals so get yourself a balanced meal plan and have your carbs!