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How To Choose The Best Carbohydrates
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How To Choose The Best Carbohydrates

How To Choose The Best Carbohydrates

Choosing the best carbohydrates for your diet and your fitness results, involves considering several factors, including their nutritional value, glycemic index, and how they fit into your overall dietary needs and how you’re training.

According to Dr. Dany P. Baby from WebMD, “Complex carbs are usually a better choice. It takes your body longer to break them down,” says Dr. Dany P. Baby.

“Foods that have been processed with added sugars generally aren’t as healthy a choice,” he continues, emphasizing the importance of opting for whole grains and naturally occurring simple carbs found in fruits and dairy products for a balanced diet.

Here’s a guide to help you make the best choices.

In This Carbohydrate Guide

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Key Takeaways

Choose Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread over refined grains for more nutrients and fiber.

Eat Whole Fruits and Vegetables: Prioritize whole fruits and a variety of vegetables to get essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Limit Added Sugars: Avoid foods and drinks high in added sugars to reduce empty calorie intake and maintain better health.

Understand Carbohydrate Types

How To Choose The Best Carbohydrates
Variety of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. They can be classified into three main types:

  • Sugars: Simple carbs found in fruits, vegetables, milk, and sweeteners like honey and sugar.
  • Starches: Complex carbs found in foods like bread, rice, pasta, and some vegetables.
  • Fiber: Found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It’s a complex carb that our bodies cannot digest.

Choose Whole Grains

Opt for whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains retain all parts of the grain kernel, providing more nutrients and fiber.

  • Examples: Brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole wheat bread, and barley.

Incorporate a Variety of Vegetables

Vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Aim for a variety of colors and types.

  • Examples: Leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, peppers, and sweet potatoes.

Eat Whole Fruits

Whole fruits are preferable to fruit juices. They contain fiber and are lower in added sugars.

  • Examples: Apples, berries, oranges, and pears.

Include Legumes and Nuts

Legumes and nuts are good sources of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

  • Examples: Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, almonds, and walnuts.

Monitor Your Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels.

  • Low-GI foods: Cause a slower, more gradual rise in blood glucose. Examples include most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • High-GI foods: Cause a rapid spike in blood glucose. Examples include white bread, white rice, and sugary snacks.

Be Cautious with Added Sugars

Limit foods and beverages high in added sugars. These provide empty calories and can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

  • Examples to limit: Soda, candy, baked goods, and sugary cereals.

Balance Your Plate

Aim for a balanced plate with a mix of macronutrients. Include protein and healthy fats alongside your carbohydrates to maintain steady energy levels and satiety.

  • Balanced meal example: Grilled chicken (protein), quinoa (carb), and a side of mixed vegetables (fiber and vitamins).

Pay Attention to Portion Sizes

Even healthy carbs can contribute to weight gain if eaten in large quantities. Be mindful of portion sizes.

Practical Tips:

  • Read Labels: Check for whole grain ingredients and fiber content.
  • Meal Prep: Prepare meals in advance to control ingredients and portions.
  • Snack Smart: Choose snacks like fruit, nuts, or whole grain crackers over chips or cookies.

By focusing on whole, minimally processed carbohydrates and balancing them with other nutrients, you can make healthier choices that support your overall well-being.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

Courtesy of Healthline


Choosing the best carbohydrates involves focusing on nutrient-dense, complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. 

According to WebMD, complex carbs are preferable because they take longer to break down, providing sustained energy and minimizing blood sugar spikes. 

Limiting foods with added sugars and opting for naturally occurring simple carbs in fruits and dairy products can contribute to a balanced and healthy diet. Prioritize whole, minimally processed carbohydrates and balance them with other nutrients to support overall well-being.

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