This is the article you’ve all been waiting for. Carbs are not the root of all evil (YAAASSSS!!). We actually need carbs to survive. Carbohydrates are our body’s first source of fuel and energy. They are a preferred source for the brain, blood cells, and nervous system. They are fantastic for recovery after a workout when you’ve depleted all of your glycogen stores. Carbohydrate-rich foods are our main source of fiber which promotes bowel health, heart health, and satiation.
But what about Paleo?
I know what you’re thinking, “I know tons of paleo people that are super fit. They don’t eat any carbs, right?” The paleo diet being low carb is actually a myth. This was never meant to be the case. This diet focuses on sources of carbs rather than quantity. It allows for (and encourages) endless amounts of vegetables, sweet potatoes, fruits, seeds, and other carbohydrate rich foods. If you are truly following the paleo diet ideology, then half of each plate will be filled with these nutritious carbohydrate stars.
What the paleo diet hopes to implement is the idea that not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates can be divided into three groups: sugars, starches, and fiber-filled foods. You can probably guess that straight sugar is not the best source of carbohydrate. After eating it, your blood sugar spikes, some is utilized, but most is stored as fat. Starches, such as bread, pasta, white potatoes, etc, go through one extra metabolic step and then they become sugar and behave the exact same way. These are the types of carbohydrates that should be considered unhealthy and are rightfully avoided by many mainstream diets. They have little nutritional value and ultimately lead to increased fat storage, not to mention increased inflammation, blood sugar issues, and a whole host of other health problems.
Then what should I eat?
Fiber-filled carbohydrates are the sweet spot. Vegetables and fruits are the star of this category and should make up most of your carbohydrate supply. Load up on them and soak up the fiber, energy, and brain boost. Some other good sources include beans, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, and oats. These foods have become confusing gray areas for some recently due to the latest diet trends, but can all be a part of a healthy, balanced diet for those who tolerate them. So eat your carbs, choose them wisely, and enjoy real food!
If you are looking to start a journey towards nutritional health but are lost on where to start, we are here for you! Check out Dr. Purdy’s approach to nutrition here.