Good Carbs for Fuel
We hear a lot about cutting carbohydrates—or even eliminating them altogether—as a strategy for losing weight. The fact of the matter is that carbs are the body’s main source of energy. If you’re going to keep rockin’ and rollin’ on that New Year’s resolution to get fit, you need carbs for fuel. But—and this is a big BUT—there are good carbs and there are bad carbs.
Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
Think of your body like an automobile. You can fill your car tank with top tier gasoline for high performance; or you can choose lower quality gasoline, which can put a damper on the engine’s performance. When it comes to fueling up your body, there are good carbs and there are bad carbs.
Good carbs are nutrient-rich foods that provide your body with plenty of energy because they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and low-fat dairy are all great sources of good carbohydrates.
Bad carbs are like empty calories. They lack fiber. As a result, our bodies digest them quickly and our blood sugars spike. Steer clear of these nutrient-poor refined grains, which include baked goods, sweetened beverages and candy.
Strategies to Steer Clear of Bad Carbs
- Eliminate temptation. Go through your fridge, freezer, cabinets, and cupboards and throw away any tempting empty calorie foods. Your will power is not strong enough to hold you back in a weak moment. Your hunger cravings will get the better of you almost every time.
- Stock up on good carbs. If you don’t purchase the bad carbs, they won’t be lying around calling out your name when you are home late after a long day and so exhausted that you devour the first thing in sight. Then, you will have to devour the good stuff because that’s what’s there!
- Treat yourself and enjoy life! Bad carbs now and then won’t hurt you. Save the empty calories for when you eat out on special occasions, and only order a small enough portion or share that cheesecake with someone so that you won’t have leftovers to take home.
- Exercise or partake in outdoor recreational activities. Exercise and being fit helps reduce empty calorie cravings. So, get your exercise, or go for a hike, swim, bike ride, play softball, or meet up for some family time at the park. Plus you’ll feel great!
Good Carbs for Fat Loss
Rather than follow a low-fat diet to lose fat and get fit, the new Dietary Guidelines recommend replacing saturated and trans fat with poly- and mono-unsaturated fat sources. Feeding your body good carbs—more whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy—is sure to help you reach your fitness and fat loss goals!