We’re always being told, “eat this and not that,” or “dump this from your diet to be healthy/lose weight/increase your energy.” With often contradictory information it can get confusing, as you’re trying to adhere to a “No” diet: No fat, no sugar, no carbohydrates; the list goes on and on.
But, can you live a holistic lifestyle when you’re actively eliminating entire food groups and nutrients from your diet?
When it comes to carbohydrates, in particular, the food and diet industry has cast such a negative shadow on them that they could almost be considered a comic book villain: Captain Carbohydrate.
But, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the pickleball court in 2017, we want to encourage you to stop fearing Captain Carbohydrate and start welcoming this macronutrient back into your diet.
Carbohydrates are our body’s primary source of energy. So rather than eliminating them entirely, we want to help you understand that not all carbs are created equal. There is such a thing as good carbs and bad carbs. To get a more informed understanding of how carbohydrates work, let’s take a look at the two main subgroups of this macronutrient – simple and complex.
Simple – These carbs are comprised of one or two sugar molecules, and include high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate and raw sugar, along with fruit and dairy. Because of their easily digestible structure, simple carbs are the fastest source of energy, meaning they could lead to a sudden spike in energy level, followed by a crash.
If you’re looking to revamp your diet, choose simple carbs that are natural and offer additional nutritional benefits (an apple, yogurt) versus those that are refined:
- Cakes and cookies
- Baked goods with white flour
- Packaged cereals
- Pastries and other desserts
- Soda and juice
- Table sugar
- White bread, white rice and white pasta
But, if it’s just one of those days and you opt for the cake, just enjoy this type of simple carbs in moderation!
Complex – These are the carbohydrates that you want to incorporate into your diet because they contain longer chains of sugar molecules. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs take longer for the body to break down and use for energy. This translates into a steady state of energy and avoids that crash we feel after eating sugar-laden treats. If you’re trying to lose weight and think that carbs will derail your diet – think again. Adding complex carbs to your meal plan can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. What complex carbs can help fend off hunger pangs? Let’s check out our quick list to get you started:
- Brown rice
- Butternut squash
- Starchy vegetables – Corn, peas, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.
- Potatoes, particularly sweet
- Whole-grain breads, cereals and flours
Team GAMMA will be the first to tell you how important nutrition is to leading a healthy lifestyle. While our main passion, pickleball, is a wonderful way to stay in shape and burn calories, it will all be in vain if you aren’t holding up your other end of the bargain by making smart choices at the table.
Now that you know the difference between simple and complex carbs, try to make simple swaps: Choose brown rice instead of white, or select oatmeal instead of sugary cereal to start your day by reaping the nutritional benefits!