The Good Carbs
You Don't Need to Cut
Shred fat and lose your spare tire without having to give up these six tasty and healthy foods.
We could all be eating less carbohydrates, right? That's probably a given. But those who have heard this message over and over and are now cutting out all carbs, you're likely depriving your body of necessary fuel for workouts and for brainpower. Without some good carbs, you'll be sluggish, foggy and generally feel like crap. That's why celebrity trainers like Gregg Miele and superhero stuntmen like Bobby Holland Hanton have stressed the importance of eating the right carbs at the right time.
You want to make sure you're eating the right kind of carbs such as fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Not overly processed, refined grains or starchy white breads and pasta. According to researchers at Tufts University in Boston, people who regularly eat whole grains rather than refined grains pack on less fat in their midsections. Nutritionists tend to think of carbs as three types of fuel—slow, medium and fast burners.
Eat medium burners like oats, quinoa or peanut butter on whole grain toast in the morning, or before a workout so they can provide you with plenty of sustained energy.
Faster burning carbs like bananas, raisins or trail mix can offer a nice shot of energy in the middle of the day. They also are ideal, immediately following a workout to fight fatigue and help with muscle repair.
Choose slower burning carbs at dinner time. Vegetables (such as sweet potatoes) and legumes (such as black beans) are lower in carbohydrates but packed with fiber to keep you full. Lowering your carbs in the evening will also keep your fat-burning furnace hot while you sleep because carbohydrates tend to slow the release of growth-hormones during sleep. And that's what encourages muscle recovery and growth while at the same time promoting fat burning.
Without getting too rigid about your diet, keep this in mind when it comes to your carb intake: you want to vary the amount you consume based on how active you've been (or will be) that day. Because to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. But on those days you exercise, you'll need more calories to fuel your effort and recovery.
Stick to lower-carb, low-calorie meals on days when you're not very active and won't burn many calories.
Plan for low-carb, moderate calorie meals for days when you're doing low-impact workouts.
Enjoy high-carb, higher calorie meals on your hardest workout days, when you need the energy and also have burned enough calories to not do any damage.