In the diet-crazed world that we live in, any food that is can be categorized as a carbohydrate gets a bad rap despite the fact that carbs are necessary for a healthy diet. (Good luck eating healthy, homemade macaroni and cheese in front of your Atkins-addicted friends who will inevitably try to convince you that each noodle has pushed you farther and farther away from your weight loss goals). The truth is that it is possible to consume carbohydrates without gaining weight; the key is making good choices and controlling portions. In fact, many carbohydrates provide high amounts of nutrients that you need every day; eating them will make you a happier and healthier person in the long run.
Following a healthy, regimented diet can be more difficult than most of us would like to admit, and one of the hardest parts of sticking to a sound regime is giving up food that we’re accustomed to eating regularly. Carbohydrates are in many of the foods we love to eat. The key to keeping your carb intake in check is to make sure that the foods you consume are high in protein and fiber; fiber plays an important role in weight management.
In order to better understand the role carbohydrates play in a healthy diet, I spoke to Cameron Allrich, personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Midtown Manhattan. He says that “all carbohydrates share the same properties regarding the availability of glucose in the bloodstream. However, bad carbohydrates take longer to breakdown, minimizing high levels of insulin that cause the liver to produce triglycerides. These triglycerides cause fat storage in the body that forms fat cells, resulting in overweight or obesity.” That means that a lot of the foods that I’ve been nervous to eat are actually great choices for losing weight and keeping it off. And, these foods are great alternatives to the regular, not-as-healthy choices that I’ve been eating up until now. Replacing white pastas and rice with whole-wheat options or quinoa is just one of the easy ways to begin to improve your carb-eating habits. Before you know it you’ll forget all about the refined grains of your past.
If you’re aiming to get yourself back on the right track, try these healthy carbohydrate-filled foods along with your regular exercise routine and let the results do the talking!
This super seed (that’s right, quinoa is actually a seed!) is a fabulous source of fiber and protein. Quinoa is an excellent alternative to rice, orzo, or even your standard pasta. A word to the wise: a little bit of quinoa goes a long way, so be sure to measure out your portions properly before you cook.
(Credit: Flickr/Lynn Gardner)
Barley contains soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and it’s also very helpful in promoting weight loss. This high-fiber super food helps to control appetite, making you feel fuller quicker so you don’t overeat.