Somewhere in between the Atkins Diet and Gluten mania, carbs have gotten a seriously bad rep. When I just wrote “carbs are…” into my google search engine, I got back “bad,” “making you fat,” “KILLING YOU." I just felt so bad for the Carbohydrate, my little super engine that could. I mean Carbs have done so much for me that I feel it’s time to take a stand for the almighty CHO.
Carbohydrates really deserve respect. Especially if you’re an athlete!! CHO is the chemical shorthand. C=Carbon H=Hydrogen O=Oxygen. According to, you know, medicine and science, humans should be getting 45% to 65% of their calories from CHO. I won’t go too much in detail on the scientific specifics of CHO because I’m not a Registered Dietician or a doctor. But CHO is present in most of what we commonly think of as our healthiest foods already. Super fad foods like kale and quinoa, those are carbs ya’ll. Coconut water, way more carbs that regular water. Just sayin’.
If you’re a pretty health conscious person, you’re probably already eating a lot of healthy carbs and avoiding the “carbs that will kill you.” Refined sugar, alcohol, processed bleached grains, we all know that these things are delicious but basically have zero nutritional benefit.
Still, if you’re looking to lose weight, you need carbs!
Carbs are filling! Carbs make you happy and energized!
Yes, salads have carbs, but a handful of kale does not a meal make. Eating and the process of digesting healthy grains sends a message to your brain that you are full. Usually when we’re full, we don’t eat more. Unless we’re spending the afternoon watching Downton Abbey on the couch. Hey, it happens.
If you eat healthy carbs earlier in the day, cooked oatmeal, brown rice or quinoa for breakfast. Even the demonized whole-wheat toast, you get to use that energy all day long, isn’t that nice? And you’re less likely to have outbursts because you’re on a crazy juice cleanse or something (also CHO, by the way). No one wants to hang out with you when you’re not eating enough and obsessing over your weight and stressing about how much you eat. This does not help you make friends or lose weight. It spikes stress response and cortisol and all other kinds of hormone messengers that keep you’re body from losing weight. Stop stressing and start eating..CARBS!
If you’re really trying to lose weight eat a majority of your calories earlier in the day, for breakfast and lunch and have a lighter dinner, like a brothy soup with lots of veggies.
The trick to carbs is watching out for high sugar content. Even, maybe especially, if you’ve gone gluten-free, watch out for the sugar content of those foods. If you’re worried about your weight, better to spend energy thinking about the glycemic index (GI) than stressing about eating too many carbs. Choose foods with a low GI.
Here’s how I love to eat carbs:
*I buy in bulk and always have the following grains in my house.
-Pasta-full of gluten because regular spaghetti is the bomb! But you could go with whole grain, or Brown rice, quinoa pasta if you’re GF
-Asian noodles, rice noodles thin and thick, soba noodles, udon noodles
*I cook in bulk.
I find the best way to avoid eating a bag of chips while driving from work to yoga to workout is to bring food with me. So, once a week I’ll make a grain salad using any of the above grains. Mixing in veggies, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, and a small amount of protein. I’m also very fond of the sandwich; pile it high with veggies and just a little protein and you are good to go. I like adding grains to soup as well.
*I have some kind of treat with sugar once a day. I know sugar will probably kill us all, but a little dark chocolate, glass of red wine, or a cookie after lunch or dinner really makes me feel satisfied. It’s like a signal that I’m done eating. I have not yet done a scientific study on this, but I really think it prevents me from overeating. It’s a working theory.
I’m sure you already know all of this because you’re all quite a bit smarter than me. But I just felt like the CARB needed to be defended. It is the foundation to a healthy diet. STOP OVEREATING PROTEIN! Seriously, stop. If you love good carbs, they will love you right back. I swear.
Here’s a recipe from a SUPER EASY dish I made the other day that can be good as a traveling dish as well. I’m trying to get better at measuring because I often just cook with what I have and don’t always remember how I cook things. So bear with me on this one. I'll get better at writing out recipes.
-1 package Udon noodles, they usually come wrapped in three sections, I used the whole thing (can use rice noodles or gluten free rice pasta for more similar consistency)
-1 TBL Coconut Oil for cooking veggies
-1 TBL Sesame Oil
-1/2 TBL Low Sodium Soy Sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
-1 tsp. Rice Vinegar
-1 tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes
-1 tsp. Chili Powder
-1 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
-3 cloves Garlic minced
-1 TBL. FRESH grated Ginger
-1 TBL Toasted Sesame Seeds
-1/2 cup Cilantro
-1/4 cup Green Onion
-1/2 Yellow Onion
Choose from the veggies and protein in your fridge:
-Chicken (leftovers from previously cooked whole chicken)
-In a wok, cook onion and veggies, pepper, chili flakes and powder on medium low heat in coconut oil, retain crispiness
-In a separate pot, cook noodles and rinse with cold water
-Add protein, garlic, and ginger to the dish (if not already cooked, cook in separate dish and then add)
-Add noodles, sesame seeds, green onion, cilantro, and other oils/soy sauce, combing together. Cook for a few minutes on low heat.
-Season to taste