This month I’m going to finish my 3-part series on macronutrients, this month, the most feared macronutrient – CARBOHYDRATES. Below is a short reminder summary from part 1 about what macronutrients are.
When we talk about nutrients in relation to food, we typically focus on Micronutrients and Macronutrients. Micronutrients are things like vitamins and minerals found in foods. Macronutrients are simply Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates. Whilst it’s very difficult to manage how many Micronutrients we can get from our food, it’s easier to manage our Macronutrients and it can have a profound effect on our energy, wellbeing, weight, sleep, and much more.
Carbohydrates are one of the two main energy sources (the other is fat) for humans. They’re found in many foods that have contributed to much of the modern diseases that we now see. But there are also many great sources of healthy carbohydrates and today I want to focus on these for you.
Non Starchy Vegetables
These include cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), lettuces, silverbeet, onions, tomatoes and more. They’re an excellent source of micronutrients and fibre and they are low in carbohydrates. These forms of carbohydrates can be consumed liberally.
There is so much conjecture about whether or not fruit is ok to eat, particularly if there are blood sugar or weight loss issues. They contain a mix of fructose and glucose and also a wide range of micronutrients and fibre. Fruits should form the primary source of carbohydrates in your diet.
This includes plants like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and fruit like plantain. These are primarily broken down into glucose and so are well absorbed by most (with the exception of people with blood sugar or digestive issues). Like fruit, this should form the bulk of your carbohydrate intake.
Still confused about how to manage carbohydrates for long term health? Below are my top tips to use as a guide to managing healthy carb consumption.
- Most people can aim for 15-30% of daily caloric consumption to come from carbohydrates. If you have blood sugar issues or weight loss goals then try 10-15%.
- Eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you like. If you would like a comprehensive list here is one and you will find many infographics online.
- Eat 2-4 servings of fruit per day. If you have blood sugar or weight loss goals, aim for low sugar fruit like berries and limit the number to 2.
- Eat approximately 2-4 servings of starchy plants per day. The same restrictions apply here for people with blood sugar/weight loss goals.
- Avoid grains, concentrated sweeteners (sugar, honey, etc) and all processed foods, particularly if weight loss is a goal.
I hope this helps to clarify a little about carbohydrates so you can start to enjoy them guilt-free.