If you are tracking your macros (and you should be), then more than likely, carbohydrates are part of your daily intake. While the majority of experts will agree that calories in, calories out and hitting your overall targets are key, what you eat also matters. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can hit your carb targets without hindering your progress.
- Berries. Berries are probably the healthiest fruit and fruit carb source you can eat. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, low glycemic impact and delicious. Blueberries top the list of healthy berries with raspberries and strawberries following soon after. If you are not incorporating berries into your protein shakes, overnight oats or just snacks, you are missing out on taste and nutrition.
- Legumes. Think chickpeas, lentils and beans. They contain carbs and protein and are often a staple of a vegetarian diet. We like to incorporate them into things like turkey chili or hummus although there are a variety of ways to eat them. In the canned variants, try to be as low sodium as possible and always drain and rinse a few times prior to eating.
- Quinoa. 20% of cooked quinoa is carbs but it also contains protein and, is gluten free if you are following that as part of your plan. The food also contains a fair amount of fiber and minerals and can help satiate your need for starchy carbs.
- Oats. Loaded with soluble fiber, oats are a slow release carb. This makes them a great choice even though they contain complex carbs. Oats also pack a bit of protein. We have at least a 1/2 cup serving of oats daily, usually split into 2 servings. Protein powder is an excellent compliment to your oats.
- Rice. There are conflicting opinions on which kind of rice is the best. It is usually a battle of white versus brown. Both have unique benefits and some disadvantages but, we choose the white variety. Typically a basmati or jasmine rice. We find it is an excellent source of minerals, healthy carbs, easily digestible and tastes delicious.
- Bananas. A low glycemic index fruit, bananas also have some added benefits besides their easily digestible carbs. Loaded with potassium, they can help fight water bloat and they can help increase the good bacteria in your gut.
- Sweet potatoes. Slowly digested, loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, these are often the carb of choice for serious athletes. Shown to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, these are a great pre-workout carb.
- Cream of rice. High in calories, high in carbs and delicious, if you are on a higher carb macro plan, this could become a daily must for you. Awesome for a post workout snack, cream of rice packs a bunch with more calories and carbs than a serving of oats but also a reasonable profile in regards to glycemic impact. The consistency of this carb source makes it absolutely delicious and satisfying if you can make it work within your plan.
- Leafy greens and other veg. Spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli. Yes, they all have some level of carbs. The fiber and nutrition profile make all of these options musts for your daily plan and depending on your choice of veg, they may have a nice carb profile as well.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of healthy carb sources but, this is what pretty much makes up our daily carb intake. Could you achieve the same macro profile but eating some gummy bears? Sure. But the micro profile and the impact on your body will be different. But, it is whatever works for you. We like to keep our food choices simple and we prefer to make other options the exception, not the norm. Whatever your choice, consider that everything you eat has more than just a macro profile and you should consider the other aspects of the choice.