Poor carbs, they get a bad rap.
Carbs are always to blame for the few of pounds we gain and the exhaustion we feel. The “latest” diet trend continuously recommends dropping the carbs. But how? They taste so good! Every comfort food revolves around carbohydrates, i.e., pasta, breads, and desserts. You may have sworn them off but they are everywhere you look.
So are carbs THAT bad for us?
First off, carbohydrates provide a source of energy for the body, usually in the form of glucose (sugar). Depending on the type of carbohydrate, sugar can be steadily released into your blood stream or a huge rush all at once. This can be compared to choosing between an apple or taking down a snickers with a Coke. The latter will likely lead to a sugar crash!
Not all carbs are created equal. In fact, some carbs are actually good for you. The problem is, we are often bombarded with a great deal of the unhealthy carbs in our modern diet. Two in particular are sugar and flour.
Let’s start with sugar. Sugar is often disguised by the various names and forms in our every day foods. Once acquainted with the code words, you will be shocked to know how much sugar you are actually consuming on a daily basis. Some of us are essentially eating candy all day! Sugar surges causes huge spikes in our blood sugar levels which over time, sends our hormones wild.
When it comes to maintaining our sugar levels, slow and steady wins the race.
Next, let’s address flour. Wheat (flour) is not what it used to be. What we buy today is actually a cheap, over processed starch. This substance quickly turns into sugar and causes a sugar bomb to go off. Think about how you feel after a bowl of pasta or a ciabatta sandwich. The sugar spike likely has you dreaming of a nap. As our flour has changed composition, many people have found themselves intolerant to gluten. A little inflammation from the gluten mixed with the sugar spikes, and you are suddenly on the road to weight gain. Bad carbs!
Here’s the fun part. The secret to finding “good” carbs is to look for them in their whole, original form. Avoid flour and sugar which has been pulverized and processed into a new substance.
Simply put, avoid the white stuff!
Here are a few carbs to enjoy:
· Sweet potatoes. Potatoes rock! But I have to say, sweet potatoes take the cake. They provide a nice sweetness which helps to satisfy sugar cravings. Additionally, the rich orange color provides nutrients such as Vitamin C and beta carotene, an anti-cancer blocker.
· Whole grain rice. As I had mentioned, carbs get a bad rap, but has anyone told Asia that? They’ve been eating rice for centuries and are rather lean as a culture. When you’re looking to add substance to your meal, try adding Jasmine and/or Basmati rice. I’ve found it to really help enhance my workouts and energy levels the following day. When buying rice, stick with organic and always avoid the label “Enriched” as this rice has been processed and stripped of nutritional quality.
· Steel Cut Oats. Ditch the instant stuff! Remember, we want grains in their original form. The extra 10 minutes it may take to cook breakfast is well worth it. In fact, I even find steel cut oats to taste better.
· Fruit. Somehow, fruit has been thrown into the ‘foods to avoid’ category when trying to lose weight. Fruit contains many essential vitamins and nutrients that should not be left out. Take my word for it, fruit is a great snack and great to satisfy any sugar cravings. Too much however could cause a sugar rush, but not many of us are eating cartons of fruit at a time.
How much carbohydrates to eat will vary depending on your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, limit your carbs to dinner time only. If you are trying to gain weight, start making carbs your friend at each meal.
Cut carbs some slack!