Poor Carbohydrates. They get such a bad rap.
Carbohydrates are an essential macro nutrient. Your brain and central nervous system prefer glucose (what carbs break down to within your body) for fuel. So carbohydrates are not only important but required for optimal function.
So why is this important macronutrient under assault? Carbs are under assault because the modern diet is based on convenience, not nutrition, and is packed with bad carbohydrates.
So what is a bad carbohydrate? A REFINED, processed carb often found in a very convenient form.
Some examples include: regular store bought breads, white pasta, sugar, packaged nutrient-stripped oats and rice, cereals, crackers, pastries, tortillas, chips, added sugars and so on!
These bad carbs flood the body at a rapid pace. Our blood sugar spikes, we become insulin resistant and we turn into fat-storing, tired, moody little machines.
BUT not all carbs are bad! Whole, unprocessed, unrefined carbs that break down and are absorbed slowly are lower on the glycemic index. They include: green, leafy, colorful veg, legumes, fruit, starchy vegetables, whole, minimally processed grains/oats with no added sugars. These carbs are nutrient dense, can help control blood sugar, insulin concentration, energy-levels, mental clarity and body composition. Sound good to you? It does to me.
My advice is don't cut out carbs, but instead limit processed, refined carbs to your "feed my soul" day(s). These carbs should be consumed sparingly, and in the correct context. "Feed your soul" meals are best had in the company of those you love or in a celebratory context.
On your "Fuel the body" days, manage your good carbs. First step of carb management: if your carb intake is higher you must lower fat intake. If it is a lower carb day then fat increases. (Protein stays steady: with every meal, snack about 1 g per lb of healthy body weight).
You have all heard me say healthy weight, healthy body composition comes from balanced, good habits. Not deprivation. Not diet. You have also heard me say I live in a 6/1 or 5/2 eating habit. Here is what that means (and it is all about CARB MANAGEMENT!)
3 days out of the week I focus on protein, healthy fats and limit my carbs to non-starchy veggies. I eat a minimal amount of fruit and typically stick to berries.
1 day out of the week. I maintain my protein intake, lower my fat intake and increase my good carbs to include: starchy veg, fruit, whole grains, oats. I make certain I exercise on this day and I try to time my carbs before or after my workout.
2 days out of the week I return to the protein, fat, non-starchy veggie routine.
And one day I fuel my soul. Note: this is not a throw down! I eat healthy, but if it's pizza for dinner, or a restaurant for brunch I indulge. It is best if you can exercise on this day! That could mean anything from the gym to a hike, run or walk with your dog. This is the only day I watch calories and portions.
What days you choose for what doesn't really matter. Make it work for your schedule!