Carbohydrates have gotten a very bad rap in recent years with more and more people believing they need to avoid this food source entirely. Carbohydrates are often blamed for being the cause of obesity and most people think that if want to lose weight, they need to get the boot.
But, this isn’t the case. Carbohydrates, when chosen correctly are a very beneficial ingredient in any healthy eating plan. They’re not only going to give you the energy you need to complete day to day tasks, but they’re going to fuel those intense workout sessions.
As those are an important part of the equation for looking good, you don’t want to be putting that in jeopardy.
Furthermore, if you cut all the carbs from your diet plan for too long, certain hormones in the body will start to shift (leptin being a main one), which will cause your metabolic rate to slow down and you to see sluggish fat loss – if any at all.
Add to this that there are key vitamins and minerals found in carbohydrate rich foods you need and it’s clear to see they should not be removed.
But, you do need to choose wisely.
Let’s go over the top nine sources of carbohydrates that you should be focusing on.
First up on the list is quinoa. Many people have heard of this grain before but not everyone has tried it. Quinoa is an excellent source of carbohydrates because it’s gluten free, low on the GI index, and also contains a complete source of protein.
For those who struggle to meet their protein needs each day or who are using a vegetarian diet, quinoa is an excellent choice to get into your daily diet plan.
You can serve it just as you would regular brown rice, so start experimenting today with ways to add it to your menu.
8. Brown Rice
Which now brings us to the next source of carbohydrates – brown rice itself. Another great grain, it’s low on the GI index, sugar free, and is relatively fast and easy to prepare.
Avoid the minute varieties of brown rice however. Stick to regular if you can as it’ll digest more slowly and has not undergone any sort of processing.
It’s also a great source of manganese, selenium, and phosphorus, trace minerals that are needed for optimal function.
Barley is another grain that most people overlook but that should be considered. Barley is very high in fiber content, so great for stabilizing blood glucose levels and for keeping your cholesterol in check.
It’s also low on the GI index and can be used in soups, salads, or served as a side dish. Barley contains a similar nutritional profile as brown rice does, however is even more nutrient dense, containing higher dosages of all the similar nutrients.
Barley can also help promote regularity and help keep your digestive system in top shape.
6. Steel Cut Oats
Moving forward, if you want a carbohydrate source to eat for breakfast, look no further than to steel cut oats. This slow digesting grain will help provide energy for hours to come, so is a great way to start your day.
While regular oatmeal can contain gluten, you can also find gluten free varieties available, so look in your local health foods store if that’s an issue for you.
Another nice thing about oatmeal is that it’s a very high volume food, meaning you can eat quite a large quantity, while still taking in few calories overall.
This is ideal for those on fat loss diets where it can often feel like your meals are microsized. The more food you can eat while maintaining a low calorie intake, the better.
The next great carbohydrate source that some people overlook as well is beans. Beans are great because not only are they a stand-out source of dietary fiber, which will keep your cholesterol in check and heart disease at bay, but they’re also a good source of protein as well.
For vegetarians, beans should be a regular carb source in their diet plan. Beans are also rich in molybdenum, which can promote a healthy digestive system.
If you are concerned with overall blood sugar regulation, beans should be a regular standby in your diet plan as they’ll help keep your levels constant. This is thanks to the high fiber, high protein content they contain.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another good carbohydrate source to consider if you aren’t a fan of grains like brown rice or quinoa. Despite the fact they have a sweet taste and do contain some sugar, they’re still low on the GI scale and will keep your blood glucose level in check.
In fact, sweet potatoes are one of the best foods for those suffering from diabetes to eat. Sweet potatoes will also pack in a good nutritional punch providing a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Often sweet potatoes are mistaken for yams, which are another healthy potato variety, so either or will make for a great addition to your diet.
Yams are lower in total sugar content, slightly higher in total calorie content, and contain more vitamin C and less vitamin A. They do offer a much more starchy taste than sweet potatoes and won’t have that sweet taste that their counterparts give off.
Berries are another good carbohydrate to consider adding to your diet plan. They’re jam packed with antioxidants, so can work great for helping to lower your risk factor for cancer and other diseases.
In addition to that, they’re also one of the lower sugar fruit varieties, so can be eaten on any weight loss diet.
With only around 50-80 calories per cup depending on the variety you choose, there’s no reason not to get these into your day.
They are also a highly versatile food and can be eaten alone, added to yogurt, topped over a bowl of oatmeal, mixed in with a salad, or included in your protein smoothie.
If you’re gearing up for a workout session ahead, bananas can be an excellent choice. While bananas do contain more sugar, this fruit sugar is a healthy sugar for your body, especially around periods of high activity.
Bananas will also provide some fiber to keep hunger at bay and will contain a powerful source of potassium, which helps promote strong muscular contractions.
Finally, they’re also a very strong source of vitamin B6, which is needed for optimal energy generation in the body. This will come in helpful as you go about your busy day.
They can make for the perfect post workout carbohydrate source.
1. Leafy Greens
Finally, leafy greens are the next carbohydrate source that must be added to your day. These are exceptionally low in both calories and carbohydrates, so some wouldn’t even really consider them a ‘carb source’. But in reality, they do contain carbohydrates.
They’re ideal for those who are dieting as they’ll pack a high dose of nutrients with few calories. Even for those building muscle mass, they still should be included as they contain important antioxidants and phytonutrients needed for optimal health.
Broccoli, bok choy, spinach, kale, and collar greens are all examples of leafy greens that you should be considering eating on a regular basis.
So there you have the best carbohydrate sources that you can be adding to your diet plan. When it comes to adding carbohydrates to your menu, it’s all about looking at the type of carbohydrates you’re eating and how many you’re consuming at once.
If you can get both of these factors under control, you can rest assured that there is no problem with them being in the picture. In fact, you’ll be better off with them than without.