Did you know that carbohydrates are not completely necessary for humans to survive? They are helpful to be sure, but if you were stuck on a desert island, you’d be best served to find a protein and fat source and could go for a while without a carb. That being said, they are classified as an essential nutrient, and are part of a well-balanced diet. As a nutrition coach, I advocate for a diet high in protein along with healthy fats and carbohydrates. The fats and carbs can be in whatever combination works best for the individual. It really does depend.
Carbs are best consumed around the time of training or in the morning for best results. You want to use them for fuel, because they provide energy for the body. If you take in too many right before bed, your body doesn’t need them as much. What’s more, depending on your training, you may need a lot or not as many. Some people even cycle their carb intake meaning they eat more on hard training days and fewer on rest days or lighter training days. It’s a giant experiment as to what works best for you!
What are the best sources of carbs for a healthy diet? Here are my top 5:
- Rice – any kind of rice will do. My favorite is white rice because it’s versatile and easy to digest. The healthiest rice is wild rice. Brown rice can be difficult to digest for some people.
- Sweet potato – I love sweet potato fries. Super easy to make in an air fryer or oven and so tasty! You can also use it in skillet recipes or just microwave one and add butter. Yum!
- White potato – in many ways the good old white potato your mom used to make is superior to the sweet potato. It has lots of vitamins! Don’t shy away from it!
- Barley – particularly in winter, I love a good vegetable beef barley soup. If you have had a baby you may remember barley cereal! But as grown-ups we tend to overlook this grain.
- Oatmeal – perfect for breakfast but also easily added to a protein shake, oatmeal is an easily digestible carb that can keep you full for hours. Try steel cut oatmeal made overnight in the crockpot. Add walnuts and berries and you’re good to go!
BONUS: Fruits and vegetables fall into this category. Go nuts! The more fiber, the better.