As fad diets have come and gone, carbohydrates (carbs) have gotten a bad reputation. But carbs are important sources of energy and are rich in nutrients your body needs to function properly. In fact, for most of us, carbohydrates should account for roughly 40 to 55 % of our daily calories. The trick is to choose the ones that pack the most nutritional punch.
Eating for Energy
Your body turns carbs into glucose (blood sugar), which is used to give you the energy to do everything from breathing to reading, talking to exercising. Your body needs carbs in order to keep doing all the things it needs to do — and to thwart sugar highs and lows, which can affect mood, focus, and more. You may have heard of complex and simple — or even “good” and “bad” — carbs. However making 'whole foods carbs' a regular part of your diet can provide energy to the body as well as being sources of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, like fibre. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole-grain cereals are some examples of whole-food carbs.
While there’s room for all kinds of food in your life, we suggest minimising your intake of processed carbohydrates, like sugary breakfast cereals, rice cakes, and cookies. Besides offering far less nutritional value, these foods will cause you to experience a sugar rush quickly followed by a crash, since refined sugars don’t take very long to digest. You’ll be satisfied momentarily but will soon need to search for something else to eat to get your energy back up.
Examples of healthy carbs
Vegetables: dark leafy greens, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, radishes, cabbages, artichokes, squash, asparagus, and sweet potatoes
Fruits: apples, pears, berries, cherries, plums, peaches, grapes, and oranges
Legumes: all varieties of beans (such as red, black, pinto, and garbanzo), black-eyed peas, and lentils
Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds
Whole grains: barley, kasha, bulgur wheat, rice (basmati, wild, and long grain), oats, quinoa, rye, millet, amaranth, corn, and wheat berries
Whole-grain foods: whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat tortillas, whole-grain crackers, whole-grain cereals, and muesli
Dairy and dairy-free alternatives: yoghurt; almond, soy, coconut, and cow’s milk