It’s no secret that carbohydrates tend to get a bad rap. But the truth is, they are essential to our dietary needs and have a huge role in our body functioning properly. Our brains are fueled by glucose, and glucose comes from eating carbs. If we don’t eat them, our body could disrupt other systems to create glucose. Remember that as you read along. Carbs are not the enemy. They can become our best friend if we respect them.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they gave up carbs, but what they mean is they gave up bread and pasta, then I would be rich. So let’s get something straight: just like fat, there are good carbs and not as healthy carbs. Sure, we know we should eat whole wheat or whole grains when we are choosing foods like bread or pasta (obvious carbs). But you may not realize that many other foods fall into the carb category as well. Foods like fruits, veggies, legumes, honey, and maple syrup. These are all carbs that also have big-time benefits for our bodies.
Carbs are vilified because when eaten alone, they spike our blood sugar or glucose level. Once glucose enters the bloodstream, our pancreas releases insulin to help turn the glucose into energy. If we have too much glucose from said carbs, our bodies are so intelligent that they store this energy. The downside? That surplus energy is stored in your fat cells.
Here are three ways to avoid excess fat storage and instead use all the carbs we eat for consistent energy throughout the day:
1. Choose carbs that are higher in fiber. Whole grains like oats and quinoa are great options. Many fruits are also very high in fiber, especially the berry family. The higher the fiber, the fewer carbs that are absorbed into your bloodstream.
2. Always pair your carbs with protein and fat. This is the root of my entire nutrition philosophy. Macro combinations are key to never spiking your blood sugar and also burning fat as fuel.
3. Eat consistently and frequently throughout the day. Another pillar to my nutrition philosophy is to eat consistent meal sizes about every four hours throughout the day. This ensures your blood sugar is satisfied enough to fuel your brain throughout the day and that it’s not dipping so low that your brain is seeking glucose from other stored areas in the body.
The important takeaway is to always remember to pair your sweets or even favorite restaurant rolls with healthy fat and protein. This will help to make sure that even on your biggest “treat” day, you’re not spiking your blood sugar and storing fat. And as always, try to make whole-food, high-fiber, colorful choices in your diet.
Cara Clark is the owner and primary Certified Nutritionist of Cara Clark Nutrition. Cara works with individuals and groups to promote overall health and to manage a wide range of nutrition-related issues. With a ‘non-dieting’ approach, she has helped clients manage weight, energy, performance, diabetes, thyroid related disease, allergies, eating disorders, and more.
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