I don’t know about you, but I am pretty over this weather. It was -45 degrees C with the wind chill today, yikes! Although I have no choice to leave my house for work and… well life, it would be pretty easy to hibernate when it’s bone chilling freezing like today. To help brighten my day I made these yummy vegan dark chocolate covered strawberries. Strawberries have carbs, and I love them, so let’s get to the topic proposed.
Are carbohydrates (carbs) bad for you?
Well, it depends on what type of carb and of course the amount, so there is no quick yes or no answer to this question. A better question may be – should I cut out all carbohydrates from my diet? Some people might say yes, I lean towards the no and it would be impossible to cut out every single amount of carb from your diet. I’m vegan so healthy carbs are my friends-they keep me energized and provide me with essential nutrients to fight off disease and keep me youthful.
Low carbohydrate diets may suit some, but when it comes to eating, I support sustainable lifestyle changes that safely provide your body with nutrients it needs to thrive and live long healthy lives… so if you are happy eating low carb for long term and balance your diet to get these nutrients, then of course I support you! I would miss carbs, so it’s not for me.
Carbohydrates – What are They?
There are a lot of foods with carbs that provide essential nutrients for long-term health. Learning to fuel your body with good, whole foods (carbs, fat and protein included) will give you the nourishment to thrive and be confident in your own body
Role in the Body:
Carbohydrates, also known as starches, sugars, and fibers, are the body’s main energy source. Your body uses starches and sugars to make glucose, which is your main fuel (the gas for your tank) for all cells in the body and is the primary source of energy for your brain and muscles. Glucose is used immediately for energy or it is stored in the liver and muscles for later use. The glucose from carbs will fuel your morning runs, your noon time cycles, and evening yoga sweat sessions.
Types of Carbs Matter:
Simple carbs (sugars) are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. Simple carbs are found in foods such as refined sugars, white breads, candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks. Since they are digested quickly, they tend to spike your blood sugars which can lead to inflammation in the body, and if in excess wreak havoc on the health of your in- and outsides! Fruits and milk/yogurts also have simple sugars but also carry other healthy nutrients making them better options than white-refined sugars.
Complex carbs (starches) are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace. They digest slowly providing a slower and more sustained release of energy (decreasing blood sugar spikes). They are rich in fiber, control appetite, and are both health and beauty promoting. Complex carbs are found in whole plant foods including legumes, whole grains, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and corn, and small amounts in non-starchy vegetables.
Fiber is a type of carb that the body cannot digest. It is great for keeping you full longer and your digestive system happy, weight management, decreasing cholesterol and managing blood sugars for overall decrease risks of disease. During processing, many of the nutrients and much of the fiber found in whole foods is often stripped away and certain problematic ingredients, such as fat, sugar, and salt, are added, resulting in a less healthful food.
Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruit, beans/peas/lentils, whole grains and nuts & seeds. Aim for at least 25 grams or higher of fiber per day.
Healthy Carbohydrate Sources:
- Dried beans/peas/lentils
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown Rise and Brown Rice Pasta
- Soba Noodles, Whole Grain Pasta
- Barley, Quinoa
- Sprouted Whole Grain Breads, Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread
- Carrots, Beets
- Most Vegetables (* Note – non starchy veggies are low in carbs)
Carbohydrates are a big part of my diet. The majority of your carb intake should come from whole unprocessed high fiber foods, and should be balanced with healthy proteins and fats as well!