There’s been a lot of press about low carbs diets lately; and I admit that I probably have contributed to the hype, because I fully and most completely do not endorse a diet with more than 50% of energy coming from nutrient poor “whole grains” (which tends to be the recommendation of the Standard American Diet).
That said; carbs are a necessary, delicious and micronutrient rich source of calories that should be a part of most people’s diet (there’s some therapeutic indications for ketogenic or very high fat, low carbs diets; but chances are you’re not one of those people). Besides micronutrient content, carbohydrates provide appropriate energy for sprint/endurance athletes, help modulate hormones (including inactive to active thyroid hormone conversion), provide beneficial antioxidants and simply help a lot of people feel their best. The thing is; everyone’s “carbs sweet spot” varies. And quality, timing and quantity do matter.
Conditions which may warrant lower carbs intake (like, <150 grams/day carbs mostly from nonstarchy vegetables) include polycystic ovarian syndrome or those with poor glycemic control. That said, carb quality remains important. Naturally skinny, super active, those with thyroid conditions may warrant a higher carb intake, But once again, quality remains key.
The thing is; the perfect “macronutrient distribution” for you is going to be unique and ever-changing. Lifting heavy things? You’ll need to amp up the protein. Doing tons of sprint, quick movements? You’ll need additional carb. Spending a ton of time logging endurance miles? You may benefit from a load of medium chain triglycerides to help prevent you from “hitting the wall” mid-run. On The Running Lifestyle Show, the host always says “Every BODY is different.” And that’s totally true.
But getting nutrient dense carbohydrate, alas, is the key to eating carbohydrate and keeping your body insulin sensitive. Nutrient rich carbs provide a great source of carbohydrate, but also fill your beautiful bod with micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. Remember, each time you eat, a chemical reaction happens to convert that potato into usable/stored energy; and that chemical reaction “costs” nutrition. We don’t want to consume mineral/vitamin-poor foods that “cost” our body nutrition without repleting it.
See below for some examples of nutrient rich carbs (this list is by NO MEANS exhaustive!)
Nutrient Rich Carbohydrate
Plantains / 62 gm per cup
Sweet Potato / 58 gm per cup
Chickpeas / 45 gm per cup
Black Beans / 41 gm per cup
Yam / 37gm per cup
White Potato / 27 gm per cup
Parsnips / 27 gm per cup
Butternut Squash / 22 gm per cup
Onion / 21 gm per cup
Beets / 17 gm per cup
Carrots / 13 gm per cup
Pumpkin / 12 gm per cup
1 Glass Organic Milk/ 12 gm per cup
Spaghetti Squash / 9 gm per cup