Ah carbohydrates- Beloved by many, yet persistently controversial. Pasta, bread, and rice are frequently vilified in the weight-loss community, breaking the hearts of health-conscious foodies everywhere. But is it justified? Spoiler alert: It's not.
Science tells us that carbs supply the body with energy, keep us full longer, and fuel essential organs such as the brain. They are, in fact, our body's preferred source of energy. Take a peek at the world's "healthiest" diets, and you will find that they consistently embrace carbohydrates in a variety of forms. (Lookin' at you Mediterranian diet!) So why all the hate?
It has often been argued that carbohydrates (made up of starch, sugar, and fiber) are devoid of nutrients, calorie-dense, and easily over-consumed.
The Atkins boom of the late 1990s brought carbohydrate consumption to the forefront of the weight-loss discussion. Through the popularization of low-carb fad diets, innocent people everywhere were miseducated into believing that carbs are evil, and must be avoided at all costs. Twenty years later, the misinformation persists, rearing its ugly head nearly every time a new fad diet takes the stage.
Here's the thing- Carbs are an essential part of a balanced diet, and avoiding them can make you sluggish, irritable, and even promote weight gain. So now you may be wondering, "What DO I need to be aware of to incorporate carbohydrates into my diet freshly and healthily?"
1. Remember, there is no such thing as "good" and "bad" food. Carbs are no different.
The two main categories of carbohydrates, "simple" and "complex" carbs, are often labeled as "bad" and "good" carbs. This is misleading, as simple carbs (aka simple sugars) are found in white bread but also in fresh and healthy fruits. Instead of focusing on these deceiving categorizations, stick to real food items that are less processed. Multi-grain bread and whole wheat pasta are higher in nutrients and fiber than their more-refined counterparts. Whole grains give you more bang for your buck, or in this case a higher benefit per calorie. Beans, seeds, nuts, and potatoes are all examples of minimally-processed carbohydrates, easily incorporated intofresh and healthy meals that keep you satiated for a longer time.
2. Consider the time of day.
Since carbs provide your body with much-needed energy, plan your meals according to when you will need it the most. Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to give your body the fuel it will need for the day. Consuming healthy carbohydrates in the morning will keep you feeling satisfied longer and limit cravings. Consider incorporating minimally-processed carbs before exercise, or after a workout to replenish glycogen.
3. It's all about balance and portion control.
Like most of life's simple pleasures, carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The most beneficial foods incorporate a variety of fresh and healthy produce, protein, and carbs. Portion sizes will vary from person to person based on lifestyle and other factors. When in doubt, meal prep is a great way to manage portions and ensure you are getting a balanced composition of nutrients.
Clueless about meal prepping? My Healthy Penguin is an excellent option for those looking for convenience while still benefiting from afresh and healthy diet. Visit My Healthy Penguin online to checkout the menu and place your order!
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