Our bodies are finely-made machines that we need to keep well-oiled, fueled, tuned up, and clean. We accomplish all of this through the foods we eat. There are six nutrients that we need to sustain life–carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. These nutrients WORK TOGETHER to keep you healthy and thriving. It’s a team effort and you cannot take away key players. Our bodies trust us to treat them right and give them what they need to function properly. If we do not get enough of any one of these nutrients, we start to break that trust.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are in a category called macronutrients. The one macronutrient that most people go thinking is the bad guy is….carbs. Poor carbs get such a bad rep that it is causing a problem in trying to fix a “problem”! Our bodies NEED carbs, and lots of them! The other nutrients do not work the same way if they do not have their teammates. This means that all the protein you’re eating to get toned and see some muscles IS NOT WORKING if the whole team isn’t there. Carbohydrates are one of the most misunderstood of your 6 life-sustaining nutrients.
As a society, we are misled with low-calorie, low-fat and low-carbohydrate dieting. The benefits associated with eating clean (including clean carbohydrates) have been ignored despite the fact that eating clean has been shown to bring the most benefits in overall health and prevention of heart disease (the #1 killer in this country). Low-carb diets are not only unhealthy, but can be downright dangerous! Increased cancer risk, lipid abnormalities, fatigue, osteoporosis, kidney damage, and even sudden death can all be linked to long-term restriction of carbohydrates in the diet. Unfortunately, a lot of health- and weight-conscious people still think low-carb is the way to go.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for our brains, and for our bodies during physical activity. What we do not need are carbohydrates that are empty calories, highly-processed, and full of refined and added sugar. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added when foods or beverages are processed or prepared. You are wasting your nutritional and financial budget on foods that lack nutrients.
For optimal nutrition, try to limit these foods:
Sodas (Instead, drink water, tea, or coffee without additives.)
Cookies, Biscuits, White Bread, & White Pasta (White flour eliminates the fiber, vitamins and minerals found in the seed of wheat.)
Chips (Try kale chips, raw veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds instead.)
Syrups, molasses, honey, sugar, oils, butter, condiments like mayo or ketchup (Use in moderation or trade out for spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, and curries.)
Candies (Don’t buy these! Think “out of sight out of mind.” Go for fruit if you want something sweet, or bake a sweet potato.)
Sweetened hot and cold cereals (Go for a bran/RICE cereal, and add spices to natural hot cereals.)
Fast foods (ALL OF THEM ARE BAD!!!!)
Crackers, especially PB or “cheese” filled (Read the label, these are usually just white flour with trans fats, AKA partially hydrogenated fats.)
Pretzels, Wheat Thins, Cheezits, etc
Packaged frozen snacks like Hot Pockets, Bagel Bites, Jalapeño Poppers, Egg Rolls, etc.
ALCOHOL AND MIXERS: That stuff adds up quick and gets metabolized as fat–lose/lose situation. It has twice the calories per gram than that of carbs or protein. It slows the metabolism, and your body will burn the alcohol instead of fat for fuel.
If you’re eating whole and natural foods, you are not getting these things anyway. We want our foods to be enjoyable AND serve their purpose.
Some nutrient-dense foods that are a good source of carbohydrates are:
All fruits, all vegetables, oats, quinoa, any rice, any potatoes, beans, **100% whole wheat pasta, **100% whole wheat bread. Foods in their most natural form are always the ones we need to reach for first. If you are getting variety in the carbs you consume, then you’re not getting too much of one choice. These few things I listed can be prepared and eaten in countless yummy and exciting ways.
When you cut carbs, you are setting up your body to retaliate eventually. For example, if you lose 10 lbs by cutting carbs, you can guarantee those pounds will be back, plus a few more in a couple months. Why? Because cutting carbs is not a sustainable solution. Remember I said these nutrients were LIFE-SUSTAINING?! If you restrict carbs, then any weight you lose will be weight and not necessarily fat, and we want to lose fat, not muscle, right?
When you take away nutrients that your body needs, it creates a ripple effect of negatives. A deprived body is not a happy body. You MUST give your body what it needs. If you don’t, it will not perform optimally, and you will not see the results and positive health effects that you desire. Don’t make your body angry–it does not deserve mistreatment.
Now, don’t get too excited about eating carbs: next time we talk food, we will talk about how much veggies you need to be eating…here’s a hint: you need way more veggies than carbs!!!
1 bag of red potatoes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash as many potatoes as needed for the week. Cut into 1 inch cubes, spritz with olive oil & sprinkle with garlic, sea salt, and oregano. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until soft all the way around.
& Brown Rice
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cups red onion, diced fine
4 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 tbsp cumin seed
1/4 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 can organic black beans (Kroger puts theirs on sale often)
14 oz diced tomatoes can low sodium (drained)
1 tbsp cilantro
Cook rice according to package directions (omitting salt and oil) in rice cooker or saucepan. Place a sauté pan over moderate heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook red onion and garlic for about three or four minutes. Add spices and cook until simmering, then add beans and tomatoes. Cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once rice is cooked, add to vegetables. Stir, serve and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.