Carbs: Naughty Or Nice List??
Blogmas Day 3 is upon us! Christmas is only 17 days away, and it’s time to take a good long look at the Naughty or Nice list! Today is judgement day for…..CARBS! Who gets the candy, and who gets the coal? No…the coal-getter is not all carbs ever created. They’re not all evil, especially if you know how you use them!
Carbs: Naughty or Nice List??
Alright, so carbs are like the misunderstood bad kid we all had a class with at one time or another. He brings a lot of energy to the classroom, intermittently tossing out smart-ass comments, mixed in with actual intelligence. The energy is good, but when there’s too much of it, or he uses it the wrong way (flipping desks, picking fights, etc.), it can be disruptive to what everybody else around is trying to accomplish. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but stay with me.
Carbs are sadly misunderstood, due largely in part to a lot of the fad diets that eliminate them. Obviously a number of people have had success losing weight when they eliminate carbs, so there’s certainly evidence that it works – depending what your goal is. However, carbs are a great source of energy – energy that you need if you like to do any kind of intense training.
The trick to fitting carbs into your diet, while still being able to cut/maintain/gain weight is to…use your brain! I can sit here and give you a list of foods that are primarily composed of carbs, and I bet you’d be able to deduce which carbs are on the “naughty” list, and which are on the “nice” list. Let’s try a few!
Cookie Crisp (or any sugary cereal) vs. Sweet Potatoes
Spaghetti Squash vs. Spaghetti
Black Beans vs. Donuts
I’m guessing you’re no nutrition expert – and, really – neither am I…but deciphering between carbs that are naughty and nice can usually be done with simple common sense. As a general rule of thumb, look at the ingredients. What are the ingredients in sweet potatoes?…..sweet potatoes. What are the ingredients in Cookie Crisp?….here are the first 5 – whole grain corn, sugar, corn meal, brown sugar and rice bran. Which do you think your body would prefer you choose?
Another great nutrition stat to look at when selecting your carbs, is the fiber content. Fiber slows down the absorption of carbs, leveling out your blood sugar, and helps you feel satisfied, longer. Think vegetables, fruit, beans…again, all one ingredient foods. Carbs are your friend, as long as you use them correctly! While carbs will give you energy at anytime of the day, they’re most ideal to have pre and post-workout, since your body will need energy to perform in the workout, and will definitely need to be replenished afterward. These are the times your body will use the energy from the carbs right away, and you needn’t have any worries about them being stored as the dreaded – FAT.
It IS possible to eat too many carbs – even the good kind – depending on your goals. You want to maintain a balance between the three macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat. Try this – if you don’t have it already, get MyFitnessPal on your phone. Track what you eat for the next week…not to see how awful you are at eating, but just to get a visual on what your current eating habits are like. What makes up the largest percentage of your calories? A common macro split people use, which is also the one I use, is 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats. I’ll be putting out naughty or nice lists for proteins and fats as well – so sit tight!
**In the meantime, get MyFitnessPal, and be my friend! Add me: mcpulvermacher – you can keep an eye on what I eat, too 😉
Ok, so now you know all carbs do not come straight from hell with the intent to attack and destroy all of your fitness and nutrition dreams. Let’s switch gears, and talk about a few ways you can make one of the best carbs…swwwwwweet potatoes….taste awesome 🙂
5 Ways to Make Sweet Potatoes Delicious
Pancakes – Who doesn’t love pancakes? Even if you don’t….you MIGHT like these. Here we have some paleo sweet potato protein pancakes. When I think protein pancakes, I think clunky, dry, nasty tasting pancakes – not these, though. They’re flavorful, sweet and melt in your mouth. Check out the recipe in the video below from one of my favorite YouTubers, Brad Gouthro.
*Tip: He’s a little chatty at the beginning of this one, so you might want to fast forward to 1:40 to get right into the recipe.
Sweet Potato Fries – This one’s a post-workout staple for me. Preheat the oven to 400, hack up a sweet potato into any fry shape you like – wedges, skinny fries, curly fries (if you’re fancy), or even chips…toss or spray them with some coconut oil and your favorite seasoning – 8-12 minutes later (depending on the cut and your oven), you’re in business. I like to dip mine in yellow or honey mustard, or…on a really wild day…Bolthouse classic ranch.
Hash-browns – Oh man, I love me some hash-browns – and they are SO easy to make. If you like the cubes, I usually boil those and then pan fry in coconut oil. If you like food with fewer steps – check this out. Peel your sweet potato, and grate it up like cheese (this is a good time to toss them with some seasonings). If you have a waffle iron, pull that baby out, spray it down with non-stick spray and pile the grated sweet potato on there . Close the iron, and give it about 10 minutes or so (you’ll have to play with it, depending on your iron), but out will come a beautifully waffled sweet potato hash-brown. I’ve eaten these by themselves, and also used them as the bread for my breakfast sandwich – excellent either way. If you’re not currently fortunate enough to own a waffle iron, you can spread these out on a cookie sheet with parchment paper, season them up and bake them at 350ish for about 7-9 minutes. Really good either way!
Protein Shake – Throwback Tuesday! Only because it’s Tuesday 🙂 Check out the Sweet Potato Pie protein shake recipe I shared a few months back in 6 Easy Protein Shake Recipes For Fall! It’s delicious, and a great way add some more nutritional value to your shakes!
Pasta – This one is simple, and quick! Peel the skin off your sweet potato. Once the skin is gone, you want to peel off ribbons of sweet potato. They would be comparable in thickness to a fettuccine noodle. One you have a nice-sized pile of those, you’re going to saute them in coconut or olive oil until they’re soft, and you can serve them with whatever sauce and/or protein you have on deck! You might have done something similar with zucchini or yellow squash – I like the sweet potato pasta best, because I’m not always very attentive…and this doesn’t cook down and shrivel quite as quickly 🙂
So there you have it folks. Naughty list: carbs with multiple, nasty-sounding ingredients. Nice list: whole, one ingredient foods, preferably high in fiber. If you can trust yourself to make this distinction, and I KNOW you can, you can be sure to steer clear of any misguided, carb-consuming mishaps. Give MyFitnessPal a go, and just take a look at how your calories typically sort out on a daily basis. When you understand your habits, you’ll be better able to change them…in the event they’re affecting you negatively. Keep an eye out for Proteins and Fats that made the Naughty or Nice list, too! Merry Blogmas!!!
What’s your approach to carbs? Do you love them, but fear them? If you’ve ever tried cutting them out, or adding more to your diet – did you notice a significant difference? Comment below and let me know about your experience! I’d love to hear any innovative ideas or recipes you use for your sweet potatoes, too!
Thanks for being you — keep it real.
Founder: MCP Total Fitness