Yes, you read that right. Carbs are AWESOME, oh so tasty and I love them! With the rise of diets like Paleo, the misunderstood carbohydrate has become a dirty word in our society. There is a silly widespread view that carbs will make you fat. But what exactly is a carbohydrate? Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. They are a macronutrient, which means they provide ENERGY for the body. Carbs are the macro that we need in the largest amounts as they are the body's main source of FUEL.
If you maintain a low carb diet for an overly extended period of time, the body will eventually start to target muscle protein to burn which leads to a breakdown of lean muscle tissue. We definitely don't want THAT. It doesn't make sense to train hard if you're just going to lose your gains through an insufficient diet that you don't even enjoy! If you experience fatigue after training, suffer from low motivation or have an energy crash in the afternoon, it's time to add some carbs to your diet especially post-workout. Now, before you run to order an extra thick crust pizza with a side of bread sticks and chocolate cake with sprinkles for dessert, you must know that all carbs are not created equal. It's time to redefine the carb so you can add awesome carbs back in and not feel guilty about it.
Let’s break this macronutrient group into two sub-groups: produce and starches. Think of produce as non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Starches are a little larger group and contain both healthy and unhealthy options by definition. Healthy options include: brown rice, white rice (post-workout), whole grain breads, quinoa and sweet potatoes. Unhealthy options include: refined grains, sugar and just about
all processed foods.
So what carbs should you be eating? Here are some great options:
If you're training hard and also running on a low carb diet, add some of these foods and see if you experience a spike in intensity, energy and lean muscle. Moderate-to-high carbohydrate diets provide better energy levels, support muscle growth, prevent muscle break down, and promote faster recovery after training.
Here's an easy and yummy recipe to get you started!
Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Kale and Feta
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Brush the insides of the squash with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay the squash face down. Roast 30 - 45 minutes or until the bottom is caramelized around the edges, and you can easily poke a fork or knife all the way through the flesh.
While squash is roasting, cook 1 cup quinoa according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, fluff with a fork, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the thick stems from the kale and thinly chop the greens. You can either sauté the kale in a pan with olive oil or coconut oil or just toss into the hot quinoa to wilt. Spoon the quinoa and kale mixture into the squash halves and top with crumbled feta, toasted pine nuts and fresh herbs.
This is a great side paired with grilled chicken or baked fish as your lean protein source!