How To Be a Carb Cow but Look Like a Cougar: A “Good” Carb Guide

How To Be a Carb Cow but Look Like a Cougar: A “Good” Carb Guide

OMG, I can’t live without carbs! I just know I can’t. Besides, I don’t want to. But, I do want to feel good and strong—and, yeah, look good. I’m willing to put in the work; I just need the guidance.

That’s when I started researching carbs. I wanted to know why my body craved them. The crux of what I discovered is that we need them, and not all carbohydrates are created equal.

Tell Me More

Here’s the deal. Our bodies need carbs to function at their peak. There are ketogenic diets (where all carb-intake is restricted), but some cells will suffer, including our brain cells.

Brain cells require glucose, which is provided by carbohydrates. Carbs are digested and converted to glucose, which then travels through the liver and then into our circulatory system.

That’s where our cells easily eat up these carbs—the ones that turned to glucose. It’s fuel, and we are re-energized! The caveat is that we can only store carbs in limited quantities. So if you don’t use them, what happens? Yes, that’s right, they’re converted to fat. Fat that our body stores for a wintery day, even against our wishes.

Great, How About Some Good News?

So going back to the no-carb idea. You can live like that; some body-builders do. The body is forced to convert dietary and body fat into ketones, which help fuel parts of the body that don’t oxidize fat for energy (like the brain).

But that’s really stressing out organs and cells that require or function maximally with glucose. So, what’s the verdict on carb intake in order to benefit our brain, heart, blood pressure, weight, and our fine figures?

The National Institutes of Health conducted a study in 2014 that showed a low-carb diet was more effective for weight loss than a low-fat one. Additionally, those that lost weight in the high-carb group, actually lost more muscle mass than stored body fat. Now that we’ve established carbs can be good, it’s time to explore which ones are the best.

OK, Which Are The Good Ones?

Some carbohydrates digest faster than others. That simple-carbs list would include: pasta, potatoes, rice, cereal, dairy, and the evil candy and soda, among others.

These offer a burst of energy because they digest easily and create fuel, pronto. But I, and maybe you, want to choose the slower-digesting carbs, which generally contain more nutrients and fiber—and keep you feeling fuller longer. Complex-carbs actually help manage your weight.

Here’s a brief guide of “good” carbs to get us started:

Apples – help lower cholesterol and keep the doctor away.
Artichokes – vitamin K, anti-oxidants, liver cleanser, too.
Bananas – choose one that’s a bit on the under-ripe side. It digests slower.
Beans –no cholesterol.
Brown rice – rich with bran and germ.
Chickpeas – AKA garbanzo beans. Main ingredient in hummus.
Lentils – mega-fiber, iron, and magnesium
Peas – nutrient-rich
Oats – help you feel fuller longer, support digestion
Soybeans – think edamame or tofu
Sweet potatoes – release sugar into the bloodstream slowly. Tons of fiber, too.
Tomatoes – calcium, lycopene, vitamins A, B, C, and K
Quinoa – a seed, but mostly labeled as a whole grain, packed with protein
Water cress – alpha-lipoic acid, cruciferous veggie
Whole Grains– think: barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rye, spelt, wheat, and more…
Zucchini – potassium, raw or cooked, good spaghetti replacement

Maximize the benefit of the complex-carbs by pairing them with a protein. For snacks, sprinkle nuts in your oatmeal, spread almond butter on a banana, etc. Studies and cultural practices have shown that at mealtime, eating fruits and proteins first, aids in digestion. Saving the “good” carb for the end will satiate your appetite. I’m proud to be a “good” carb cow. Don’t be afraid to join our ranks!

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