In the previous post, I talked about the importance of NOT restricting carbohydrates from your diet. In this post, I am going to go in-depth about the best carbs to choose for your lifestyle.
You may have already heard about two types of carbohydrates (simple carbs and complex carbs). Simple carbs are carbohydrates that are absorbed quickly into the blood stream whereas complex carbs are absorbed more slowly. In nature (as in not processed by a machine) these types of carb sources are neither good nor bad. They each have their uses.
Complex carbs are best for your everyday diet. They are great because they regulate your hunger, energy level, insulin response, and body composition. Examples of Complex Carbs are:
- Root Vegetables (e.g. potatoes & yams)
- Whole Grains
Simple carbs are great for athletes before and/or after a long hard workout. This is because they are a great source of immediate energy. Fruit is a great example of a whole food source for simple carbohydrates.
The Myth about Carbs and Starch
When people think of carbs, they think they are an immediate source of weight gain. For example, the potato is often vilified for being too starchy. Resistant starch is actually a good source of fiber especially when that food item is eaten with its skin. When acting as a fiber, resistant starches can:
- stimulate blood flow to the colon
- increase nutrient and mineral absorption
- help prevent us from absorbing toxic and carcinogenic compounds
Every Carb Ain’t for Everybody
Certain carbs may do better for your digestion and energy levels than others. For example, some people may feel bloated and heavy after eating potatoes. Others might not experience any issues with potatoes but feel they don’t get enough energy from rice. It is important to experiment with what works best for your pallet AND your body. Always ask yourself “How do I feel?” after every meal and make adjustments as needed.
Processing and Preparation
I hope you can see now that carbs and starch will not make you gain weight. In fact, when used, prepared and sourced correctly they can support weight loss and management. If we let machines, ovens and fryers do the digestion for us, we lose the benefits of complex carbs. Remember just because a package says “whole grain” does not mean that it is. Below are some examples of “Processed Grains” and “Whole Grains”.
- Store-bought whole wheat bread
- Quaker Rolled oats
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole grain crackers
- Brown rice
- Plain steel cut oats
- Plain oat groats (whole oats)
- Plain amaranth
- Plain quinoa
- Plain millet
- Plain wheat berries
- Plain barley
- Plain wild rice
NOTE: Steaming and boiling your complex carbs is usually your best option when it comes to cooking (for potatoes steam and then let cool for more fiber).