All carbs are evil!!! Um… not quite. How do you untangle what carbs to eat without compromising your low or low-ish carb diet? Even if you are eating low carb, these are the top 7 healthiest carbs you should add to your diet. Plus a few delicious recipes!
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The ketogenic diet has become more and more popular among those in the health, wellness, and fitness industries as well as those who are looking to shed a few (or many) pounds. The ketogenic diet states that we should be eating high healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein no sugar, and little to no carbohydrates (typically under 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day). This is a long way off from where our minds once stood in terms of a healthy balanced diet. Many of us grew up hearing that carbohydrates are the building blocks of our bodies, and they are required for energy. We went from being told that we should be having three to five servings every single day to barely eating any carbs at all, including the ones in certain fruits and vegetables.
Recent studies have shown the benefits and risks of the ketogenic diet. Putting your body into ketosis allows your body to use stored fat for energy, thereby decreasing your overall body fat. Users of the keto diet have also reported increased energy, better cognitive function, decreased inflammation, and better sleep patterns.
Keto Can be Hard to Follow
However, the keto diet can be hard to follow. Reducing your daily intake of carbohydrates isn’t hard when you consider it is only bread and wheat, especially if you have already done a Whole 30 or paleo diet. But when you find out that healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are off the table, literally and figuratively, it can be a bit harder to sustain in terms of a long term lifestyle choice.
Depleting all carbohydrates from your diet might not be a good idea, especially if you want to reap the benefits of a healthy high fat-low carb diet long term. Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD states, “Simple carbs (other than fruits and milk) should be avoided…Complex carbs should prevail.” Complex carbohydrates often include starchy foods that are high in fiber, which help promote gut health and can be converted into energy via short-chain glucose. These high-fiber carbohydrates are used for energy to repair and rebuild cells in the body, your tissue, and your organs. In fact, when your body goes without any carbohydrates for too long it can cause metabolic imbalances such as cravings, fatigue, and anxiety.
Not All Carbs are Created Equal
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. No matter what diet or lifestyle you maintain, you should still avoid all processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and processed sugars. But if you are looking to add carbs back into your diet, these 7 carbs the ones you should consider because of their health benefits beyond carbohydrates.
My nutrition protocol has jumped all over the place depending on where I was at in my journey. I don’t rely on labels, but instead, eat the foods that make me feel good. Currently, I feel my best when I load up on fruits and roots. Crazy, isn’t it?!?
It’s important to note to always check these foods against the nutrition protocol that you are on, whether it’s Keto, Paleo, Whole30, or Autoimmune Paleo. While they are healthy carb options, they may not be recommended for specific protocols.
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The Top 7 Healthiest Carbs
Beans, Legumes, and Chickpeas
Beans, legumes, and chickpeas are all high in fiber and high in protein. This powerhouse combo means that you will stay fuller longer and have fewer cravings for things that you shouldn’t be eating. The protein helps with lean muscle mass and the fiber helps with your digestive system and aids in preventing certain cancers. You can also get vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, and thiamin in just one serving. When adding carbs, beans, legumes, and chickpeas should be high on your list.
Recipe: Lamb and Zucchini Boat by Pink Fortitude
Recipe: Smokey Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus by Pink Fortitude
Recipe: Beet Hummus by Pink Fortitude
Despite its name, buckwheat does not actually have any wheat in it. In fact, it is one of the most nutritious oats containing protein, fiber, and more minerals and vitamins than most grains. It is good for heart health and for those with diabetes, and it can be found in soba noodles or eaten as a cooked oat.
Recipe: Buckwheat Pumpkin Pancakes by Pink Fortitude
Recipe: Buckwheat Apple Pie Pancakes by Pink Fortitude
This root plant may scream “potato” to you, but it is anything but when it comes to its relation to the starchy plant. Both get their nutrients from carbohydrates, but yucca is high in vitamin C and can help to boost your overall immunity. Yucca is higher in fiber than white potatoes and has been shown to decrease inflammation.
Recipe: Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Tortillas by Pink Fortitude
Recipe: Lemon Cookie with Fruit Topping by Pink Fortitude
Fruit has gotten a bad rap over the past few years as the low-carb lifestyle has become more mainstream. But most fruits are very healthy for you because of their high fiber and high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Bonus: the natural sugars can help curb your cravings for processed sugars (just be careful to eat it whole and not in juice form as many store-bought juices and smoothies contain added sugars and several servings).
Recipe: Watermelon Prosciutto Appetizer Bites by Pink Fortitude
Recipe: Black Raspberry Ice Cream by Pink Fortitude
You may think that bananas and plantains are the same things, but they aren’t. Although they come from the same family and look similar, plantains are used in a different way than bananas. Their flavor and texture are comparable to a vegetable because it has less sugar than a banana. Because of this it is often cooked and used as a side dish to main meals rather than eaten raw. It has a slightly higher level of carbohydrates than regular bananas, but it is also higher in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. The biggest difference though? The carbs from bananas come from sugar whereas the carbs from plantains come from starch- making the complex carbs more appealing in a plantain.
Recipe: Oven Baked Sweet Plantains by The Artisan Life
Recipe: Spicy Guacamole Plantain Cups by Living Sweet Moments
Quinoa is one of the healthiest seeds available. It is high in protein and fiber, which can aid in weight loss. It is also a heart-healthy food and is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Since it is prepared like a grain, it is a great substitute for other items you may typically use as your “starch” for daily meals such as rice or potatoes.
Recipe: Tangy Lentils and Quinoa by Garlic & Zest
Recipe: Breakfast Quinoa with Blueberries by Striped Spatula
Not all potatoes are created equal. Sweet potatoes, versus white, red, or yellow potatoes, are high in vitamin A, B6 and C, and full of antioxidants. It is also high and fiber and can help curb sugar cravings.
Recipe: Healthy Sweet Potatoes by Pink Fortitude
Recipe: Sweet Potato Bites with Avocado and Shrimp by Pink Fortitude
Not all carbohydrates are bad, and long term research has shown that we need good, healthy, and complex carbs as part of our diet. As long as we are making the right choices, we can continue to eat healthy without totally cutting carbs.
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