How To Spot A Healthy Carb
My brother in law text me the other day and asked me if some carbs were better than others and how he would know which ones were the best. I thought this would make a FANTASTIC WEEK 4 Healthy Habit topic.
So what exactly does make a good carb, “healthy?” Typically “good” carbs are those with the highest protein and fiber content. In general, you will find carbohydrate sources with the highest protein and fiber content is when food is as close to its natural state as possible. There are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Simple carbohydrate, or sugar, is found naturally in fruit, honey, maple syrup etc… Complex carbohydrates come in two forms: starch and fiber. Starch provides energy and fiber provides a world of benefits to the body. Primarily it helps keep your digestion regular, may slow the absorption of sugar into the body, and is filling. Protein is thought to provide similar benefits allowing your body to utilize starch for energy at a slower rate (instead of blood sugar spike and dip.) So that being said what should you look for?
Tips To Spot A Healthy Carbohydrate
(Recipes pictured: protein packed pumpkin french toast, gluten free vegan protein pancakes, sweet potatoes, brown rice pasta)
1. Look for these foods:
The first step is to know what kind of foods contain primarily carbohydrate (simple/sugar, complex/starch, or fiber.)
- Starchy Vegetables- peas, plantains, root vegtables (like potatoes)
- Grains (rice, corn, bread, pasta etc…)
- Yogurt and milk
- Nonstarchy vegetables do contain low amounts of carbohydrate and a steady supply of fiber. However, they don’t contain starch or very much simple sugar so we are keeping them separate. Just know, non-starchy vegetables also supply carbohydrates and should make up at least half of your meal the majority of the time.
2. Eat them in the least processed state possible “aka” the highest fiber/protein state possible.
- Whole fruit instead of juice.
- Starchy veggies from fresh or frozen cooked at home, not from a box. Like potatoes made at home instead of instant.
- Beans/lentils/legumes buying them as dry beans (soaked, sprouted, or not) and canned beans are great options.
- Dairy – yogurt and milk, no added sugar or sweetener!
- Whole grains in as close to their ntaural form as possible —> here is a list:
- Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
- *Oats, including oatmeal
- Rice, both brown rice and colored rice
- Sorghum (also called milo)
- *Wheat, including varieties such as spelt, emmer, farro, einkorn, Kamut®, durum and forms such as bulgur, cracked wheat and wheatberries
- Wild rice
- *With wheat flours it’s important to look for the word 100% or whole. Otherwise, if it says “wheat flour” it’s likely been stripped of its nutrient-dense outer layer (where the protein and fiber layer is.)
- “Steel cut oats are the least processed, then rolled oats, then instant oats.
3. Aim for the highest protein/fiber content.
When you are looking to buy a starch that is more of a treat or requires processing like chips, bread, and pasta it gets a bit more tricky. For example, there are tons of options for chips including wheat, corn, quinoa, lentils, plantains, potatoes, and sweet potato (and that’s just at Trader Joe’s). First, make sure you can read all the ingredients in it. Then, one of the best ways to make the healthiest choice is to choose the product with the highest protein/fiber content per serving (of course, make sure serving sizes are comparable.) Another example is pasta, Trader Joe’s has pasta with one ingredient: brown rice.
Challenge Yourself This Week
- Try a new healthy carbohydrate –> I think I’m going to get to try amaranth!
- Upgrade your carbohydrates—> if you normally do white rice, try brown rice!
Remember the amount of carbohydrates a person needs depends on your health status, activity level, and other factors. If you need help determining the amount and best timing, visit my nutrition services website www.hungryhobbyrd.com
Week 3: Tips To Increase Veggies Review
Last week’s healthy habit was to increase veggie intake, this one has already become a habit for me but if I’m not careful I can get less than I think I do. It was nice to have emphasis it on it all week! Some things I did:
- Made a veggie packed quiche
- ate almost a whole thing of celery with sriracha hummus
- made salads (see meal prep below) for lunch many of the days
- usedsteamer bagsfor easy vegetables for dinner
Last week’s meal prep wasn’t too insane, at least it didn’t feel insane because I had a good mix of making things from scratch and some Costco convenience. For me, I kind of meal prepped on Monday, not my favorite way to do it but it worked out fine.
- Quinoa Bars most similar to these (back two left containers) and working on a vegan version for Mr. Hungry (front two and back right). I want to tweek those just a bit before I share them, but they were good he ate them with breakfast and for afternoon snacks all week!
- Mr. Hungry’s lunches—> Adells chicken meatballs (didn’t even heat them, just plopped them in the containers), made baby carrots in the crock-pot, and used precooked rice and leftover quinoa from the bars.
- Made this Zucchini Quiche for breakfast on Tuesday and ate it the rest of the week. Most of the time when I get a craving for eggs, it annoys me to just make a couple and then wash the pan. I feel like I should just make a quiche, maybe it’s because I hate doing dishes.
- Made this salad on Monday with feta, buffalo chicken, black olives and artichoke so since I had all the ingredients out I made two more of them in plastic containers (as much meat as I had) for the next couple of days so I could just pull out the container instead of all the ingredients again. Literally any opportunity to make things easier, take it, take it and run like you stole it!
Do you do all your meal prep on the weekend or do you do some during the week too?
What is your favorite healthy carbohydrate?
Mine is definitely sweet potatoes and bananas, I could eat those for every meal!
52 HEALTHY HABITS IN 52 WEEKS SERIES:
The 52 Healthy Habits Series is about ditching the diet mindset and making small changes to improve health overall naturally leading to a healthy body composition, increased energy and improved health. Please follow along and check out the past weeks!
- Week 52: Healthy Habits Wrap Up
- Week 51: Nightly Reflection
- Week 50: Limit Harmful Chemicals
- Week 49: Find Your Tribe
- Week 48: Cultivating Positivity
- Week 47: Healthy Thanksgiving Tips
- Week 46: Check In
- Week 45: Mobility – Foam Rolling
- Week 44: HIIT Training
- Week 43: LISS or Steady State Cardio
- Week 42: Limit Alcohol
- Week 41: Eat White, Wait What?
- Week 40: Eat Blue & Purple
- Week 39: Eat Green
- Week 38: Eat Yellow/Orange
- Week 37: Eat Red
- Week 36: Learn Which Foods to Purchase Organic
- Week 35: Read the Ingredient List!
- Week 34: Focus.
- Week 33: Chew Your Food!
- Week 32: Meditation
- Week 31: Gratitude Journaling
- Week 30: Plan & Revamp Dessert- 20 Healthy Ideas
- Week 29: Two fistfuls of veggies per meal
- Week 28: Get In Veggies At Breakfast
- Week 27: Healthy Veggie Snacks
- Week 26: Nourishing Fats for the Gut (Healthy Digestion Part 4)
- Week 25: Keeping Regular – The Other Fiber (Healthy Digestion Part 3)
- Week 24: Feed The Probiotics With Prebiotic Fiber (Healthy Digestion Part 2)
- Week 23: Amazing Health Benefits of Probiotics (Healthy Digestion Part 1)
- Week 22: Check In
- Week 21: What You Will Learn From Recording Your Meals (Intuitive Eating Series Part 4)
- Week 20: Eat Until 80% Full (Hara Hachi Bu) (Intuitive Eating Series Part 3)
- Week 19: Limit Distractions While Eating (Intuitive Eating Series Part 2)
- Week 18: Gaging Your Hunger Cues (Intuitive Eating Series Part 1)
- Week 17: 10,000 Steps Per Day
- Week 16: Assess Your Caffeine Intake
- Week 15: Decrease Sugar Intake
- Week 14: Healthy Coffee Creamers (upgrade yours)
- Week 13: 3 Month Check In
- Week 12: Sleep Enough & Sleep Better
- Week 11: Schedule Your Workouts
- Week 10: Pack A Healthy Lunch (5 Ways to Create Endless Combinations)
- Week 9: Prioritizing Protein
- Week 8: How and What to Meal Prep
- Week 7: Create & Stick To Your Healthy Meal Plan
- Week 6: Get Enough Omega-3’s (Fight Inflammation)
- Week 5: What Is A Healthy Fat & How To Get Enough (Include Healthy Fats)
- Week 4: How to Spot A Healthy Carbohydrate (Upgrade Your Carbs)
- Week 3: Tips to Increase Veggie Intake (Eat Veggies)
- Week 2: 15 Healthy On the Go Breakfast Ideas (Eat BF Challenge)
- Week 1: Tips to Drink More Water