There is little doubt that the human body uses carbohydrates most efficiently for energy production (as opposed to fats and proteins). So there isn’t really any reason to avoid carbs, even if you’re trying to lose weight. But there is a BIG difference between the natural, wholesome, ‘good’ carbs we are designed to eat and the unnatural, highly-processed, ‘refined’ carbs so many of us consume on a daily basis!
Complex carbohydrates provide a powerhouse of easily-obtained energy. In fact, they are the body’s main source of fuel for your muscles. It’s not only your muscles that benefit — your brain, bones, glands, hormones, heart and all of your body’s systems depend on a regular flow of carb energy to function optimally.
Whether you’re a fitness fan or would simply like to be more active, the intake of the right carbohydrates can really give you a competitive edge.
Energizing snacks include whole grain crackers with nut butter; fruit slices dipped in low-fat yogurt; or hummus with baby carrots. After a workout, you can refuel with a slice of whole grain bread and a string cheese, or a smoothie with skim milk, your favorite fruit and a few ice cubes.
Many people don’t realize that “good” carbs — including brown rice, celery, whole grains and strawberries — supply a wealth of vitamins, such as B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and C, in addition to minerals, such as chromium, manganese and zinc. Enriched grains are also a good source of folic acid and iron. Since carbs tend to be of plant origin, many provide a host of phytonutrients (chemicals in plants that boost health).
Examples of some of these super-charged foods and their disease-fighting chemicals include spinach (lutein targets eye-related ailments), tomatoes (lycopene fights prostate cancer) and sweet potatoes (carotenoids have been linked to longer life).