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Time for a Comeback: 6 Carbs You’ll Want in Your Diet

Time for a Comeback: 6 Carbs You’ll Want in Your Diet

As early as 1972, Robert J. Atkins’ food plan suggested limiting carbohydrates in favor of proteins and fats as a way to lose weight. More recently, the popular paleo trend has promoted the health benefits of returning to the diet of our hunter-gather ancestors. However, a new study from The Quarterly Review of Biology suggests that complex carbohydrates played a crucial role in the development of the human brain. The findings suggest that we have been too quick to slash carbs from our grocery lists.

In today’s gluten-free world, many nutrient-rich starches have disappeared from the carts of health-conscious shoppers. As a result, diets today are missing the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutritional values that cannot always be recuperated with artificial supplements.

Here is a list of six carbohydrates that deserve a spot in your weekly rotation:

1. Purple Potatoes: not your average spud

This more vibrant cousin to the white potato packs a serious punch of antioxidants. When steamed or boiled, they can protect against free radicals. Plus, studies have shown that the high levels of potassium found in purple potatoes can reduce blood pressure.

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Purple potatoes

    Dr. Joe Vinson from the University of Scranton hopes to bring them back into favor. “Mention ‘potato’ and people think ‘fattening, high carbs, empty calories.’ In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine, or sour cream, one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins.”

    2. It’s a seed, not a grain, it’s buckwheat!

    This fruit seed is often mistaken for a grain since it is commonly used as a healthy, gluten-free substitute to flour. Popular uses of buckwheat include French galettes and soba noodles, both wholesome alternatives to wheat-based batters or pastas.

    Buckwheat

      “Buckwheat is loaded with health benefits… it is a great source of heart-healthy fiber, which helps keep you full longer. It also provides hunger-satisfying protein without any of the cholesterol or saturated fat that animal protein contains. Plus, it offers eight essential amino acids, making this complete protein a smart nutritional choice for vegetarians,” says Elaine Gordon, a master-certified health education specialist.

      3. The return of Quaker’s Oats

      While often paired with rich ingredients like honey, brown sugar and cream, oats are an important addition to your diet given their content of soluble fiber. Beneficial side effects of increased oats intake, according to The Whole Grain Council, include lowering bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and controlling blood pressure.

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      Oats

        Most recently, oats have made a big comeback as a healthy breakfast that is simple to prepare and a wonderful alternative to sugary cereals.

        4. Farro, it’s not just an ancient king in Egypt

        A wonderful alternative to pasta, Farro is an ancient Etruscan grain that is chock-full of nutrients like vitamins B and E as well as fiber. A study from Harvard Medical School notes that vitamin E “acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage. Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

        Farro

          For a heartier meal, try adding farro to your regular soup or salad recipes. Or, create a healthy dessert by adding warmed fruit and honey to the cooked grain.

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          5. Change up your bean routine

          Despite being a carbohydrate, kidney beans can actually help you lose weight given their high levels of soluble fiber. Beans and legumes are harder to digest which can suppress appetite. The iron content in kidney beans is a bonus too. Daniel Pendick, executive editor of Harvard Men’s Health writes, “one-quarter of the world’s population is anemic, meaning they don’t get enough iron to produce the red blood cells and oxygen-carrying hemoglobin needed to nourish their myriad cells.” A diet of iron-rich foods, however, is the best way to combat deficiency.

          Kidney beans

            Get creative with kidney beans as you would with black beans. They can be used for more than chili and soups. Try adding an extra dose of iron and protein to salads or sauces.

            6. Fill up on fiber with butternut squash

            Butternut squash contains high levels of Vitamins A and C. Jessica Kovarick, a licensed and registered dietician says, “Beta carotene imparts the orange-yellow color of butternut squash. In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health. Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, also is important in maintaining healthy mucous membranes and other soft tissues, and it plays a role in promoting healthy skin.” Of course, if that is not enough, this healthy carb’s fiber content aids digestion and its high levels of potassium maintain heart health.

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            Butternut squash

              Butternut squash is delicious when simply roasted in olive oil and garnished with salt and pepper. If you are looking for a prepare-ahead meal, try making soup and stock your fridge or freezer for Fall and Winter meals.

              The Verdict: Eradication is extreme

              While it is not recommended to start reaching for white bread and plain pasta, there are benefits to adding nutrient-rich carbohydrates back into your shopping basket. Often, understanding the vitamins found in the groceries you buy can greatly improve your overall diet, health and happiness.

              Whether you are gluten-free, paleo or in search of the next big trend, the message is clear: some carbohydrates are just too good to pass up.

              Featured photo credit: Melissa’s Produce, mylifeisdelicious, vegancoconutzone, Jason Sani, helloantioxidants, Barley Swine via Instagram

              Featured photo credit: Cutting Bread by dinner series via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on September 18, 2020

              7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

              7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

              Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

              Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

              1. Exercise Daily

              It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

              If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

              Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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              If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

              2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

              Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

              One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

              This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

              3. Acknowledge Your Limits

              Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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              Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

              Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

              4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

              Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

              The basic nutritional advice includes:

              • Eat unprocessed foods
              • Eat more veggies
              • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
              • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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              Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                5. Watch Out for Travel

                Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                6. Start Slow

                Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                Final Thoughts

                Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                More Tips on Getting in Shape

                Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                Reference

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