Plug your toaster back in and get the cereal bowl ready! We have some good news: it’s time to eat carbs again. Well, it’s always been time, but many of us been led to think that carbs are the bad guys in our diet. You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to shut out carbs completely, you just have to get a little more selective.
Here’s a quick and dirty lesson on carbs: carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients, along with fat and protein, that are essential for human growth and survival (Looking for a full lesson? Click here). The carbohydrates you eat are converted to glucose, which is the most bioavailable energy source for your body. Carbs can come in the form of sugar, starch, and fiber. And finally… drumroll please… not all carbs are created equal.
Sure, bagels, cookies, white pasta, soda, and sweets all contain carbs. But guess what? So do vegetables. All of them (yes, even our blessed kale). Heart-healthy nuts, seeds, and beans are on the list, too. It’s time to stop thinking about what carbs you should stop eating and focus your energy which ones you should start eating. It’s pretty simple: stick to whole, unrefined carbohydrates.
Still convinced that carbs are the devil? Here are a few reminders that you need ‘em.
Carbs give you energy. Carbs are converted to glucose, the most available form of fuel for your body to perform all of the functions to survive. Whole grains make you a well oiled (carbed?) machine.
Your brain runs on carbs. Glucose is the preferred energy source that your brain craves. If you’re looking to stay sharp, need we say more?
Carbs are fiber! By now you probably have realized how great fiber is at keeping you full and satisfied (and regular, we might add).
Carbs contain vitamins. We all know vegetables are rich in vitamins, but whole grains are also full of B vitamins like niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate.
Now, this isn’t an open invitation to guzzle down a sleeve of oreos or a box of munchkins. Rather, it’s an invitation to shift your perspective. Cutting out food groups altogether can lead to some seriously unhealthy eating habits, so why do it?
It’s easier than ever to find your favorite carbs in whole grain or whole wheat, from spaghetti and couscous to crackers and wraps. If you want to increase your carb diversity and limit wheat, try experimenting with less common grains like quinoa, millet, and farro. Their great, nutty flavor and high levels of protein (read up on more plant based protein sources here) and fiber will add new textures and flavors to your diet.