The Best Carbs

The term "carbohydrate" is very confusing. When we say "carbs," most of us think of refined carbs like bread, cookies, cake, muffins, etc. But veggies, fruit, grains, legumes, and anything made of sugar are ALL forms of carbohydrate. Fiber is also considered a "carb." Seems strange that a bowl of oatmeal, a slice of melon, and a lima bean are all considered the same, but they are.

In order to have a balanced, nutritious diet, we should be eating protein, fat, and carbs. I have written extensively about creating the proper balance of these macro-nutrients. The balance is important--getting enough, but not too much protein, and eating the "good" fats instead of the "bad" ones. But if you are concerned about losing weight, picking the BEST carbs is the key.

Yes, limiting your total carb consumption is going to result in weight loss. But, in the same way that limiting your total calories can backfire, limiting your total carbs can result in a lack of key nutrients. The BEST carbs are nutrient-dense. They also happen to be low in calories and high in fiber.

What are these miraculous carbs??? Veggies, of course!

When experts recommend a low carb diet, they are essentially recommending a restriction on REFINED carbs. Products containing refined sugar and flour are notorious for raising blood sugar levels, creating mood swings, and over time, weight gain. Maybe even insulin resistance and diabetes. But veggies are carbs which provide loads of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, along with low amounts of sugar. This makes veggies the PERFECT way to get your carbs.

When I say "veggies," I'm talking about leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach, romaine, and arugula. Try making leafy greens the center of at least one meal per day. In the summer, you can create an exciting salad using freshly grown produce. In the winter, you can pile your protein on top of a heap of steamed or sauteed greens. Whenever I make a sandwich, I stuff a huge handful of leafy greens in there. Other veggies are great, too: asparagus, zucchini, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower should all appear on a regular basis. Root veggies like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes are delicious because they contain more concentrated sugars. You might choose to add these when you are exercising more intensely.

Try making vegetables the main carbohydrate in your meals and see the difference. Substitute veggies for grains like rice, pasta, or bread and you will soon see the weight melting off your body!