Carbohydrates are our energy “go to” source for any type of physical activity. The problem for many of us is that there are so many carbohydrates out there. There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Breaking it down even further, do we eat fruit as a carbohydrate or do we eat rye bread? The ever changing information can be confusing and even frustrating. I came up with a simple way to make sure you are consuming a variety of carbohydrates but more of the “better for energy” carbohydrates overall.
But first, how many calories should be categorized as carbohydrates in our daily diet? It’s simple. After you calculate your BMR, protein and fats then the rest are all carbohydrates.
I like to place a value on my carbohydrates based on myplate.gov. If my carbs fall under any of the below categories then I get 1 point. When my food choice doesn’t fall under the categories then I lose a point. You really should end up with the highest positive number you can. It is a great way to challenge yourself to try new foods or consume a little more of those “better for energy” carbs than you typically would.
*myplate.gov carbohydrates suggestions:
Emphasize fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Aim for whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar. They’re better options than are fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have more calories. Also, whole fruits and vegetables add fiber, water and bulk, which help you feel fuller on fewer calories.
Choose whole grains. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium, than are refined grains. Refined grains go through a process that strips out parts of the grain — along with some of the nutrients and fiber.
Stick to low-fat dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Choose the low-fat versions, though, to help limit calories and saturated fat. And beware of dairy products that have added sugar.
Eat more beans and legumes. Legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat; contain no cholesterol; and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also have beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. Because they’re a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol.
Limit added sugars. Added sugar probably isn’t harmful in small amounts. But there’s no health advantage to consuming any amount of added sugar. In fact, too much added sugar, and in some cases naturally occurring sugar, can lead to such health problems as tooth decay, poor nutrition and weight gain.
So choose your carbohydrates wisely. Limit foods with added sugars and refined grains, such as sugary drinks, desserts and candy, which are packed with calories but low in nutrition. Instead, go for fruits, vegetables and whole grains. *