Low-carb diets have become extremely popular lately but if they are not followed properly they can be detrimental to your body rather than helping you get lean, fit and healthy. You need a good mix of nutrients to optimally function at your best while achieving your health and fitness goals. Unless you really understand the specific nutrients that are going into your body, you can easily get off track with your meal planning goals. Cutting out all starchy carbohydrates from your diet is not the key to success. It’s actually all about picking the right ones, at the right times.
Most people fail to realize there are two types of complex carbohydrates and they often confuse simple carbohydrates as replacements for vegetables. Simple carbs include fruit. Although they are natural and healthy for you, they are full of fructose which is a simple sugar and higher on the glycemic index. Fruit is not a replacement for vegetables. 1-2 pieces of fruit per day is fine and the ideal time to eat them is the first thing in the morning. Some fruits are higher in sugars than others so depending on your needs you may want to eat grapefruit more often and leave pineapple for special occasions since they contain more sugar and a higher glycemic index rating.
Complex carbohydrates are starchy or fibrous type foods. Starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, bread, pasta and oatmeal are the ones most people focus on when they think about carbs. They tend to forget that greens, spinach, green beans, broccoli and similar veggies are also carbs and these are foods that should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake if you want to get really lean and ripped! It’s the starchy carbs that need monitoring but are crucial for the diet and should be ingested as natural whole grains while avoiding the “white” enriched flour products. Things like brown rice, quinoa, oats, yams, whole wheat pasta and Ezekiel bread are all starchy carbs and should be included as part of your carbohydrate intake. Consuming these as whole foods and trying not to destroy their important properties by overcooking or by eating only canned versions of these items is very important for getting the most nutrients and benefits out of these foods!
A good rule of thumb is to eat 3 servings of fibrous carbs such as leafy greens or broccoli per day along with a serving of orange and red veggies. Other items such as mushrooms, onions, peppers, celery, cucumber, parsley and other veggies should also be incorporated into your main meals as they are all rich in powerful phytochemicals. Thousands and thousands of these cancer fighting phytochemicals can be found in different forms of food that are located in the produce section of your local grocery store.
For starchy carbs, try to eat 3 servings per day in the form of oats, oatmeal or oatbran, tubers and brown rice or an ancient grain such as quinoa which comes in organic form 99% of the time. Keep your servings moderate to large if you are not on any specific diet and especially if you are an endurance athlete who participates in activities like long distance running. If you are trying to lean out and get ripped then you should stay with a lower to moderate amount of starchy carbs and each serving should be under 1 cup while focusing your intake around your workout sessions to utilize the carbs effectively. Try to cut back or eliminate starchy carbs later in the day (after 5pm) in order to control your insulin levels and maximize fat loss.
Some people are starting to find that choosing quinoa, kamut, spelt and millet are ideal because gluten intolerance and siliac issues are being found in more and more people nowadays. Choose your carbs wisely but please eat the right ones because they can be extremely beneficial for you!