You read that right: you should eat more carbs. I realize this is a controversial statement in the era of keto, but it’s what I’ve learned from years of coaching clients. Over time, I have seen that carbs are definitely a part of any healthy diet. Now before you devour the first chunk of bread you see, there are a couple of guidelines you might want to follow if you want to get the biggest bang for your bun.
- Focus on the stuff that grows from the ground.
I’m not going to tell you about “good” vs. “bad” carbs – no one food is inherently good or bad. What makes one choice healthier than another is its effect on your body over time. But you should know that when it comes to carbs, you want to focus on the foods that grow from the ground. This means vegetables, fruit, and grains. It’s these foods that have all the nutrients that keep your body happy with a healthy dose of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and water. Nutrients keep your metabolism humming, so you’re way more likely to reach your fitness goals if you eat many nutrient-dense foods. I recommend including lots of leafy and/or green vegetables; some starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash; a couple of fruits; and some healthy grains like brown rice and quinoa in your diet. Canada’s Food Guide also encourages us to focus on veggies and healthy grains. Their website has some great recommendations for which grains to eat and how to best prepare them.
- Move away from processed carbs.
Processed carbs, including sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, bread, and pasta, have very little to zero nutritional value. Typically, when foods are processed, they are stripped of all their nutrients. Table sugar, for example, is made when sugar cane or sugar beets are pressed and their sweet juice is concentrated and refined. The processing takes all of the nutrients out, leaving an “empty” food. When you pair this with the fact that sugar still tricks your body into thinking it’s being fed, while simultaneously providing none of the nutrition that your body needs, it’s a recipe for disaster. Processed carbs are a big reason for people being sick and overweight. Steer clear of these as you work towards achieving and maintaining your fitness goals.
- Pay attention to how your meals make you feel.
Remember that carbs are your body’s main source of energy, so you should feel energized after eating. Consider changing the type of carbs you’re eating if you feel groggy after every meal. For example, if your lunch included rice and you spent the afternoon trying not to fall asleep, you can try another grain like quinoa. Everyone is different, so don’t be shy about trying things out to learn what works best for you.
- Include healthy fats and protein.
Carbs are great, but carbs alone do not a healthy diet make. It’s important to eat enough fats and protein. Keeping a close eye on your protein intake has gotten trendy in recent years, which has caused most people to focus entirely too much on how much protein they’re eating and not enough on carbs and fats. All 3 are crucial for health, so make sure to eat good fats (e.g. olive oil) and a source of protein (e.g. eggs) with your delicious carbs.
The trick to a healthy diet is to stick to “real” (read: unprocessed) foods as much as possible. Because everyone’s body reacts differently to foods, it’s never a bad idea to experiment with what works well for you. What’s your favourite source of carbohydrates? Please chime in and share your favourite recipe(s) with us below!
Posted by Burke