Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus.See all posts »
Fuel Your Body with Carbohydrates
With all the athletes that I work with, I preach about the importance of fueling your body correctly before, during, and after workouts. With all the fad diets out there, many of them try to eliminate the most important source of energy we need for working out…carbohydrates!
Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for the body. They are found in a variety of foods and contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Failing to eat enough carbohydrates will deplete your body’s storage of carbs, which can leave you feeling fatigued and possibly lead to injury or illness. Aim to get about half of your calories from carbohydrates from these excellent sources:
- Grains, Breads, and Cereals: Choose whole wheat or whole grain options for grains, rice, pastas, and breads. Pick your cereals and granola bars with at least 5 gm of fiber to help keep you satisfied for longer.
- Starchy vegetables: Choose vegetables such as peas, corn, winter squash, and sweet potatoes for complex carbohydrates and fiber.
- Fruit: Select whole fresh fruit when possible. Fruit contains antioxidants to help reduce the amount of free radicals in your body after exercise. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies, and canned fruit is very convenient but look for it packed in 100% juice instead of syrup.
- Beans and Legumes: Beans and legumes are high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Great selections include black beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans.
- Dairy products: Opt for low fat or fat free choices for milk and yogurt.
- Beverages: The best choices in this category are low fat milk, water, or 100% fruit juices. Limit soda, alcohol and sugary beverages to avoid excess, empty calories.
- Dessert: Eat desserts in moderation. Do not eat these in place of complex carbohydrates because they are often high in calories and low in nutrients.
Many people eat way too many carbohydates, so cutting back on carbs is not a bad idea if you’re trying to lose weight--just don’t cut them out completely or eat too few of them. Choose the right kinds to include and limit the added sugars and refined grains (like white bread).