Carbs are not the devil. I repeat, carbs are not bad. For more information on when an how much carbs to eat check out this article.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, what should you eat for carbohydrates?
There is a lot of confusion around what are quality carb sources; but it’s quite simple: eat mostly complex, unprocessed carb sources and eat processed carbs sparingly and only ones that you tolerate well.
While everyone has different preferences and tolerances; some people can’t handle gluten, wheat, beans, corn, or other common elements of processed carbs. You can get lab testing done to find out if you have any sensitives to these or you can pay attention to how your body reacts to these foods when you eat them sparingly.
Getting a healthy serving of protein in with every meal can be hard if you don’t prepare ahead of time. Here are my suggestions for food prep:
There is no “ideal” potato. Sweet, russet, red, white, etc. they are all good. You can prepare them a few different ways:
- Fries – cut them up and add a little olive oil and salt. You can make healthy fries in about 15 minutes in the oven – here is a great recipe with directions.
- Whole cooked – in the oven or microwave
- Mashed – these take a little more patience but you can easily create delicious mashed potatoes without adding a ton of butter or milk. Here is a handy recipe.
Brown, white, wild. Any kind of rice other than instant is a great option. You can easily make it in a rice cooker in about 30 minutes, or a pressure cooker in 10-15 minutes.
The recipes is simple: Add rice, water (instructions come with the rice), and any seasonings and walk away. I prefer a dash of salt.
Canned beans are ok! Just get the low or sodium free version.
You can also cook beans on the stove in 45-120 minutes. Don’t worry about eating specific types. Find the kind you like and go with it.
I love brown rice noodles – all you need to do is add boiling water and a little seasoning. These are a great ‘on the go’ variation that I carry with me to work everyday because I can make them in the microwave in about 2 minutes.
Steel cut and gluten free are my preference. Oats are naturally gluten free, however most are processed at plants with other gluten containing products so your oats likely have trace amounts of gluten in them if you don’t buy ‘gluten free’ oats. Simply add hot water, some fresh fruit or cinnamon and you have a delicious breakfast carb source.
Pasta, bread, tortillas, and other “processed” carb sources
Processed carb sources should be eaten in moderation (a few times per week) and you should avoid ingredients that you react to. This many seem obvious, but most clients I’ve worked with oscillate between no processed carbs and then going on a processed carb binge. Find what works best for you and stick with it.
Often, the downfall of most clients is eating out. This doesn’t have to be the case. Nearly every restaurant has rice, baked potatoes, beans, or some other quality and un-processed carb source as an option.
Sandwiches, burgers, tacos, and burritos can all be ordered ‘naked’ or with a different carb source on the side.
There is no reason to eat poor carb sources. If you can make time to cook protein and vegetables, you can certainly take a few more minutes to prepare some quality carb sources. Experiment with different recipes and carb sources until you find a few that you prefer.