It seems like the diet and weight loss hype these days tells us to avoid carbs because carbs are bad. The truth is carbohydrates are not bad. In fact, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy.
My lean eating habit for the next two weeks is to make smart carb choices.
Precision Nutrition talks about carbs on a continuum from better to worse instead of labeling them as good or bad. Better means higher fiber, more nourishing, adding value to my body, and health-promoting. Worse means lower fiber, less nourishing, and health-harming. As much as possible we should eat foods that nourish us and make us feel better. This is why we should try to make smart carbohydrate choices. Doing this will make us feel fuller longer and give us sustained energy. It will also help us lose fat and make us leaner and stronger.
Smart carbs are smart because they give us stuff are bodies need, want, and will use in the right ways. Stuff like nutrients, fiber, water, and slow-burning energy. Smart carbs include most vegetables and fruits as well as beans, and legumes.
PN puts smart carbohydrates into two categories, higher fiber and starchy whole foods. While both are healthier options, starchy carbs are more carb dense than those in the high fiber category. In general you can eat as much as you like of high fiber non-starchy vegetables. (Remember my last habit: eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day?) However a general portion size for legumes, beans, fruits, and starchy carbs is about a handful at each meal. Again, eating slowly to 80% full still trumps all other habits so remember to pay attention to how hungry (or not) you are at each meal.
They listed 5 smart carbs that are full of fiber, nutrients and health benefits but often get overlooked. These five include beans and legumes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, ancient grains(quinoa, amaranth, and teff), and steel cut oats. Dave and I eat a lot of beans, winter squash, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and steel cut oats, but have yet to try amaranth or teff. Maybe we will give one or both of these ancient grains a try in the next week or so. Perhaps you should give one or all of these 5 smart carbs a try too!
PN also discussed whole grains as a smart carb choice, but were very clear about the fact that whole grains are really just that, a WHOLE grain. If you process a whole grain it is no longer whole. They cautioned us about food packages these days because so many claim to be whole grain, but that really means they have been made from a processed whole grain such as flour. Some examples of whole grains are the ancient grains I listed above, barley, brown or wild rice, spelt, and wheat berries.
Refined sugary carbs and processed foods are NOT smart carbs. This includes things like cookies, pastries, sweets, sweet drinks (including fruit juices), and dried fruits. If it comes frozen or in a box you can pretty much bet on the fact that it is highly processed and is not a smart carb choice. Refined carbohydrates have almost no fiber or beneficial nutrients and instead of adding value to the body they actually subtract value. These types of foods digest and absorb quickly which leads to a blood sugar rush and crash, insulin spikes, and often leave us wanting more and more. Yikes! This is why you should have as little as possible of these types of carbs.
This is something I constantly have to battle with because I do have a sweet tooth and love my treats. What PN teaches though is that it’s not that you or I should NEVER have a treat, but that we should save it for those special occasions and even then still enjoy them slowly, mindfully, and only in small quantities.
So this week the mission is to experiment with and enjoy some of these smart carbs.
Leave a comment and let us know what your favorite smart carb is! Also, try a new smart carb and let us know what you think of smart carbs and how you feel as a result of eating them.
Committed to Your Results,
The Fit Soldiers Family!
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Northglenn, CO 80233