Despite the food fads that argue for high protein, low-carb diets, there are benefits to moderate carb consumption. I know you’ve probably heard many people say that carbs lead to weight gain, but the truth is moderate carb consumption of healthy, fiber-rich whole grains can actually improve your health. Instead of staying away from carbs or going overboard, moderate carb consumption is a great way to manage your weight and stay healthy.
1. Improved Energy Levels
If you suffer from chronic fatigue or even just a casual slump in energy, you might benefit from moderate carb consumption in the afternoon. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. So if you’re feeling tired, eating a granola bar or a small bowl of oatmeal might be just what you need. Opt for whole grains over refined, and if possible eat a little protein with your carbs. With this strategy, you’ll have energy for the rest of the day.
2. Adequate Fiber Intake
Most people don’t nearly get the recommended amount of fiber they’re supposed to eat in a typical day. But did you know that whole grains are some of the best sources of fiber? For those of you who are apprehensive about eating carbs again, if you want to get enough fiber in your diet you’re going to need to eat some kind of carb. Remember that beans and legumes are also in the carb family and perfect if you’re looking to up your fiber intake.
3. Better Fitness Performance
When low carb diets were all the rage, a lot of athletes complained about low energy levels and decreased performance. But when they incorporated moderate amounts of carbohydrates before working out, they noticed a substantial improvement in their performance. You can apply this same technique to your own workouts by consuming a small amount of whole grains before you hit the gym. Some great choices are whole grain cereal and milk or an apple with some almond butter.
4. Excellent Cognitive Function
The brain’s primary energy source is carbohydrates. Many people even complain about memory lapses or cognitive impairment after going on low carb diets. Studies show that consistent carb consumption can keep you sharp and focused throughout the day. As long as you don’t eat super refined or fattening carbs like donuts and cookies, you should definitely reap the benefits!
5. Meets Your Magnesium Requirement
Did you know that magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies? So many people are deficient in this essential mineral and don’t even realize it. Ultimately, you can get adequate mineral sources by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are grown in mineral rich soil. Whole grains are a particularly rich source of magnesium. Better yet, buy organic whole grains and you’ll get even more minerals.
6. Versatile for Cooking and Preparation
From steaming rice, to boiling pasta, to baking potatoes, starches can be cooked and consumed in a variety of ways. Whether you love a whole grain pasta primavera or enjoy baked sweet potatoes with your steak, with all the ways to prepare your favorite carbs you surely won’t get bored. Keep in mind to watch your fat intake with carb-based dishes. This means not drowning your pasta in a creamy Alfredo sauce or loading your potato with butter and sour cream. Moderation is key not just for carbs, but for all food groups.
7. Helps You Sleep Better at Night
If you’re one of the many people that suffer from a sleep disorder or insomnia, you’ve probably tried any and everything to get some sleep. Instead of reaching for the sleeping pills, why not reach for the whole grain pretzels or crackers? Experts say there is a potential link between eating carbs at night and sleep. The carbs help release serotonin, which can make you feel sleepy.
Go to any grocery store or super market, and you’ll see that carbs like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes are some of the most affordable items for sale. If you’re on a budget or are trying to save money, definitely take advantage of affordable carb foods. The only thing I will recommend is that when possible, go for whole grain and unrefined options. Pre-packaged/boxed rice and pasta dishes are loaded with fat, calories, and artificial ingredients that don’t belong in your body.
9. Tastes Delicious
Let’s be honest, does this last one really need to even be a reason? At the end of the day, carbs just taste flippin’ good! There’s a reason we love to dive into a bowl of popcorn at the movies or binge on chocolate after a breakup. Carbohydrates are sweet, satisfying, and comforting. Remember though, that a majority of the carbs you eat should come from whole grains. Use herbs, spices, and other low-cal/low-fat ingredients to make these dishes taste just as good as their refined counterparts.
By no means should you go overboard with carbs. Eating too many of them can lead to a bunch of different health problems. On the other hand, don’t shy away from them either! Carbs are absolutely part of a healthy diet. What are some of your favorite healthy, carb-friendly meals?