You need to eat carbs. You know this. They’re necessary for your body to function properly and they’re going to help keep you healthy while you work your butt off (maybe literally) to meet your goals. But you also know that all carbs are not created equal. The 28 grams of carbs in a Snickers bar are not the same as 28 grams of carbs from fruit, vegetables or whole grain sources. You can’t seriously convince yourself that noshing on a bag of pizza-flavored Combos is going to help you lose weight or build muscle just because they contain the right amount of carbs for your diet.
Your carbs need to come from the right source for them to work for you in the best way. Don’t worry; you’re not going to be relegated to eating Ezekiel bread every day to meet your quota in a healthy way. (Even though that’s how Mark Wahlberg gets some of his.) There are lots of delicious foods that will deliver the carbs you need along with a host of other nutrients. Foods like black beans, bananas and sweet potatoes can all be easily worked into your diet to give you what you need. Here are a few foods to weave into your routine.
Cashews – and a slew of other nuts – can be fantastic sources of healthy carbohydrates that can help anyone meet their fitness and physique goals. They taste decadent, but you don’t need to worry about them wrecking too much havoc on your diet if you’re eating them in moderation. Don’t go nuts (pun intended), but a small serving of cashews can provide your body with a good dose of healthy carbs and a load of other great nutrients.
According to BodyBuilding.com, cashews are one of the most nutritious nuts around. They contain loads of iron, zinc, trace minerals and a one-ounce serving can pack nearly a quarter of your recommended daily requirement of phosphorus. Beyond that, a serving of 18 halves and pieces, dry roasted without salt, brings with it 7.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and 9.2 total grams of carbohydrates.
Cashews have been shown to have some serious health benefits as well. According to LiveStrong, consuming cashews can reduce your risk of diabetes by helping to control blood sugar. They may also promote glycolysis, the process of metabolizing sugar into energy your body can use. Cashews also contain several antioxidant compounds that have been observed to be anticancer agents, according to the site. Proanthocyanidins are some of the antioxidant compounds that can be found in cashews that may possess the ability to halt the growth of certain cancer cells.
Black beans are super versatile. You can pretty much add them to any meal or salad (or even brownies) and work a lot of extra nutrition in your diet with very little effort. Black beans are an awesome source of carbs, according to BodyBuilding.com. Adding them to your diet can boost your fiber intake and energy levels, according to LiveStrong. Half of a cup of black beans boasts 20 grams of carbs and a whopping seven grams of fiber. That fiber could protect you against cardiovascular disease and help you maintain a healthy weight. Plus, good carbs like those in beans are going to fuel your workouts better than the sugar in quick, fast-burning carbohydrate sources.
You’re also going to get a good dose of protein with your black beans without a lot of additional fat. According to LiveStrong, the ratio of protein to fat in black beans makes them a healthier alternative to other sources of protein, like meats that are high in fat. You just need to make sure you’re getting a complete, balanced diet that includes grains and vegetables to make up for the amino acids that are missing from black beans.
“If there’s one must-have complex carb you should stock in your pantry and include in your fitness nutrition plan,” says BodyBuilding.com, “it’s the seemingly humble sweet potato.” The sweet potato has a lot going for it. It’s a slow-digesting fuel, which makes it great for helping you to achieve just about any fitness goal. They can stabilize your blood glucose levels and provide you with a rich source of vitamins A, B and C, plus manganese, copper and pantothenic acid. All good stuff.
According to LiveStrong, sweet potatoes can help you keep your calorie count under control. They have a lower calorie count that a regular old white potato and they can be doctored up to satisfy any sweet or savory craving. They’re loaded with fiber, which is essential for not only controlling appetite, but also fat burning, maintaining healthy digestion and building muscle. They’re also a great source of potassium, which plays a huge role in muscle control, balancing electrolytes and nerve function. Basically, sweet potatoes are a bodybuilder’s best friend.
You probably know this, but it bears repeating: bananas are a great source of carbohydrates, especially for bodybuilders and those trying to make progress in the gym. They’re perfect! They’re cheap, easy, you can put them in anything and they come with their own travel container. Bananas are great.
According to BodyBuilding.com, they’re a great source of carbohydrates for pre and post-workout fuel. They’re packed with potassium to help your brain, heart and muscles function properly. Manganese will keep your bones, tissues and blood pressure healthy. They support a healthy immune system with vitamins B6 and C, plus other helpful antioxidants. Bananas do it all. And they do it all without seriously messing with your gastrointestinal tract, all thanks to the hefty serving of dietary fiber that they provide.
So throw them into your oatmeal, blend them into a smoothie or just rip one open when you need a snack. Anyway you do it, work bananas into your diet to help you stay healthy and meet your goals.
You’ve got to get your carbs from somewhere. Make sure you’re getting them from good, healthy sources that are providing your body with more than just a few fast-burning carbohydrates. Try some sweet potatoes, bananas or black beans and maybe a handful or two of cashews to get your fix without derailing your diet.