What Are Good Carbs To Eat?
Hi everyone, as a personal trainer I often get asked questions about carbs. Should I cut them out completely? Are there any good carbs? Should I go on a low carb diet? Well, the purpose of my blog today is to answer those questions and more.
I’ll also be going over what are good carbs to eat as mentioned in the title and how they relate to fitness. First I’d like to give you a little background on carbohydrates before I get into the questions.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Plants use carbon dioxide from the air, water from the ground, and the sun’s energy to produce carbs and oxygen through the process photosynthesis. Carbs are compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Carbohydrate intake should be the foundation of any healthy diet. Carbs contains 4 kilocalories per gram compared to 9 kilocalories per gram for fat. Therefore, a diet rich in carbs provides less calories and a greater volume of food than a diet high in fat.
2 Main Types of Carbohydrates
There are two types of carbs in food. They are simple carbohydrates (sugars), and complex carbohydrates (starches and fiber). Simple carbs occur naturally as simple sugars in fruits, milk, and other foods. There are two main categories of sugars which are monosaccharides and disaccharides. The most common monosaccharides are glucose, fructose, and galactose.
Glucose is the most abundant simple carb and gives a mildly sweet flavor to food. Fructose, also called fruit sugar, tastes the sweetest of all sugars and is found in fruits and vegetables. Galactose is found as part of lactose in milk.
The most common disaccharides are sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Sucrose, also known as table sugar, provides sweetness to honey, maple syrup, fruits and vegetables. Lactose, which is milk sugar, gives milk and other dairy products a sweet taste. Maltose is malt sugar and isn’t found in foods, but is formed when starch breaks down.
The two classes of complex carbs are starch and fiber. They are chains of more than two sugar molecules, hence the name complex carbohydrates.
Rich sources of starch include grains such as wheat, rice, corn, oats, and barley. Also legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils are a good source of starch along with potatoes, yams, and cassava. Starch gives a moist texture to food.
All types of plant foods including, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and white grains contain fiber. Fiber aids in lowering blood cholesterol and promoting healthy gastrointestinal functioning.
How To Choose Carbohydrates Wisely
You should be encouraged to increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk while keeping your caloric intake under control. These foods are great sources of carbs and many other nutrients.
Choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables from all five vegetable sub groups (dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) provides Vitamin A, C, folate, potassium, and fiber.
You should also moderate your sugar intake. Most of us enjoy the taste of sweet foods and there’s nothing wrong with that. Good news, right? However, the key is eating sweet foods in moderation. You can do this with a few simple tips.
Try to use less white and brown sugar, honey, and syrups when possible. Limit your intake of soft drinks, high sugar breakfast cereals, candy, ice cream, and sweet desserts. Use fresh or frozen fruits canned in natural juices.
How Carbs Relate to Fitness
Lastly, I’d like to tie all this information together with how it relates to fitness. The first point I’d like to emphasize is you should never cut carbs completely out of your diet. Carbs are designed to provide your body with energy and you need energy for daily activities and exercise.
Carbohydrates can have some great qualities and provide excellent nutrients, contrary to popular belief they are not the enemy if used for their intended purpose. If you want to maintain your current weight your carb intake should be about 60% of your overall diet.
However, if you’re trying to lose weight I would scale your carb intake back to no more than 30% of your daily caloric intake. This is because your body fat is stored energy and you want to use that as your primary source of energy to lose the weight. If you consume too many carbs and they’re not metabolized as energy then those carbs will turn to fat.
I hope I’ve answered some questions you may have had about carbs. If you do have any questions or comments please leave them and I will get back to you. Thanks for reading and have a great day!