Here is the latest Get Fit email from Dr. Jacobs.
Foods that Fuel
By: Cooper Clinic Nutrition
While carbohydrates sometimes get a bad rep, they are a great source of fuel food. Carbs are imperative for muscle, brain, and nervous system function. Read more about picking the right carbohydrates and how they can fuel our system to a top performance.
As a dietitian, I know that power comes from more than just good genetics; it comes from food fuel, commonly known as carbohydrates.
Carbs have unfairly been given a bad reputation. Some people believe carbohydrates are the culprit for weight gain. More often, weight gain is the result of too many calories total and too little exercise. An adequate intake of carbohydrates are necessary for muscle, brain, and nervous system function.
After you realize that carbs do have health benefits, you need to understand which carbs are the best options.
Picking the Right Carbs
We can and should discriminate when making food choices in the carb category. Choose complex, whole grain carbohydrates whenever possible. This includes foods such as whole-grain spaghetti, potatoes, corn, cereals, and other whole grain products. It is recommended that we get in three servings of whole grains a day, and unfortunately only one in nine Americans is currently meeting that recommendation.
So now you are ready to move forward with adequate carbohydrates on your plate. You might get a measuring cup and see what ½ cup or 1 cup looks like on your plates at home to help with portion accountability. You can take that carbohydrate “mental snapshot” out to the restaurants with you as well and be better able to stay on track with your health and wellness goals.
The following are some favorite complex carbohydrate choices – try some!
1. Quinoa is now readily available in many supermarkets and is one of the best whole grains you can eat. It is high in protein (8 grams in 1 cup cooked), fiber (5 grams per cup) and a naturally good source of iron. Quinoa is as easy to prepare as rice and can be eaten alone or mixed with vegetables or lean protein.
2. Beans really are good for the heart! They are loaded with fiber and are a good, low-fat source of carbohydrates, protein and potassium.
3. Sweet potatoes are a delicious member of the starchy vegetable family and are high in vitamin A.
Moderation is Key
The other kind of carbohydrate to consume (in moderation) is simple carbohydrates. These are found in sweets like honey and sugar. These foods lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar, followed by a decline in blood sugar and subsequently, less energy.
In addition, high doses of concentrated sweets can draw fluid into the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to dehydration, cramping, nausea and diarrhea. Fruits are considered simple carbohydrates, however, they are rich in fiber and nutrients and low in calories. We do not put them in the same category at the other simple carbohydrates.
If you want to improve your energy level, consider small amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day balanced with lean protein and some healthy fat. We can improve our focus and lower our level of distraction by keeping blood sugar levels consistent that way.
And don't forget that portion size matters, even when it comes to healthy foods. You can take more liberties when eating simply prepared vegetables, but you should be aware of the volume of other foods and strive for sensible portion.