Ok, here it is. The secret to good health and a healthy weight is….. carbohydrates! Bet you never thought you’d hear that! It’s controversial but it’s true, so let’s unpack it below.
Carbohydrates Are Fuel For Your Body
While carbohydrates have had a bad rep in the past (and actually still do to an extent, thanks to certain fad diets and the media), there really is no need to be hating on them so hard. In fact, carbohydrates (or carbs) are the primary fuel for your body – your muscles and your brain in particular. Of course, your body can use other sources of energy, such as protein and fat, but carbs are by far the easiest, most efficient and effective for your body to utilise.
There is also a big difference between carbohydrate heavy foods that are heavily processed (e.g. sugary cakes, syrups, lollies, white bread etc.) and those that are minimally processed and relatively close to their natural state. These include fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. You can guess which ones we want to eat more of and those we need to eat less of, right?
Minimally processed carbohydrates usually come packed with extra goodies for the body as well. Fibre for your gut and heart health, antioxidants for a strong immune system, vitamins and minerals for overall health.
The Different Types Of Carbs
Not all carbs are created equal – some provide greater benefit for your body and energy levels than others. Just as there are different types and qualities of fuel for your car, there are different qualities of carbohydrates. The best ones will keep you cruising through the day (as the energy is released slowly) and also take care of your insides (thanks to the fibre, vitamin and minerals that accompany them).
Here’s the fuel you want to be putting in your body:
- Unleaded 94 (good carbs) – Wholemeal bread and wraps, white rice, pasta
- Unleaded 95 (better carbs) – Wholegrain bread, brown and basmati rice, wholemeal/legume pasta
- Unleaded 98 (best carbs) – Fruits, vegetables, legumes, oats, cooked-then-cooled rice and wholegrain pasta, quinoa
When you add exercise into the mix, carbs become even more important. They provide the energy you need when you’re pumping through a high intensity workout. Muscles store carbohydrates as glucose so that you’re ready to jump, lift, pull, push, sprint, twerk and burpee at a moment’s notice.
Eating carbohydrates is an essential part of a balanced diet, that also includes healthy fats, quality proteins and leafy vegetables. These foods give the carbohydrates more mileage (slowly broken down, slowly released into your bloodstream) and keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day, which is an unbeatable way to stay in calorie deficit, or maintain a healthy weight and good health – inside and out!