by Tiffanie Grady-Gillespie, Certified Physical Trainer, CPT, WickedFiTT
One of the most commonly asked questions by the people who want to keep healthy is: “What do I eat?” Protein, carbs and fats. Is it really that simple?
It’s not that simple – actually it’s much more complex. Let’s be honest, carbohydrates have gotten a pretty bad rap, so I thought it was time to talk about carbs.
Carbs are one of the three macronutrients in our diet, along with protein and fat. Carbohydrates are molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms in specific ratios.
There are three main categories of carbs in food:
- Sugar: These are smaller carbohydrate molecules like glucose, fructose and sucrose.
- Starch: A carbohydrate made from strings of joined glucose molecules. Starch gets broken down into glucose when you digest it to provide energy for your body’s cells.
- Fiber: A carbohydrate that can’t be digested, but is still very important for your digestive health.
Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, can help to improve focus, recovery and aid digestion. Carbohydrates are also the main fuel source for your brain function, so including them in your diet is absolutely crucial. Without carbs, your body needs to work extra hard, which could possibly result in minor health issues like headaches, brain fog and generally feeling run down.
Nobody wants that.
There are two types of carbohydrates that will impact your body differently: ‘refined’ and ‘unrefined.’
We always tend to use the good carbs/bad carbs reference.
Refined carbohydrates. These also are known as simple carbohydrates. Refined carbs are processed, manufactured carbs. Examples include white bread, soda and doughnuts. Try to avoid refined/simple sugar as this type of carbohydrate doesn’t contain any essential nutrients or fiber. This can lead to excess carbohydrates being stored as fat.
Unrefined carbohydrates. Complex or unrefined carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. This type of carbohydrate obviously is much healthier for you than refined/simple carbohydrates as they are absorbed much slower. The energy you get from unrefined carbohydrates is released slowly throughout the day.
Complex carbs also come with fiber and micronutrients that are important to your overall health.
OK, so what are the healthy carbohydrates we should be eating? And, what are the unhealthy carbohydrates we should be avoiding?
These are whole grains, quinoa, rye, wheat and barley; green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and lettuce; veggies like broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers; healthy starches like brown rice, wild rice, sweet potatoes and beets; fruits like berries, apples, pears, oranges and melons. Wait … fruit? Yes! Don’t stop eating fruit. You’d have to eat four apples to ingest roughly the same amount of sugar as in one large Coke. Plus, fruit has vitamins, minerals and fiber.
These are white bread and other bakery products like pastries, biscuits, sugary cereals; other common foods like desserts, candy and drinks like sodas; even some sports drinks are an unhealthy variety of carbs one should stay away from.
To sum up. Don’t be scared of incorporating carbs into your diet. Understanding the benefits of eating carbs and what types are the best for your body is super important when it comes to staying healthy and achieving your health and fitness goals.
Not all carbs are created equal.
WickedFiTT has an exciting announcement to make. We have moved into our new, larger location — 422 Florence St., Suite 3 (right across from Big House Café) in Casa Grande. Feel free to contact us: wickedfitt.com.