Jorge H Montano JR, B.S.
Founder and CEO of Altus Premier Nutrition.
Have a hard time recovering from training? Or perhaps you want to get stronger and pack on muscle? In this case, add more carbs to your diet! These nutrients speed up recovery and fuel your gains. They also play a key role in testosterone production and hormonal health.
Your body needs carbs to repair damaged tissues and replenish its glycogen stores. However, not any carbs will do. Sugary treats, junk food, and soda contain simple sugars that cause insulin spikes followed by crashes. Your carbs should come from whole, natural foods, such as quinoa, brown rice, fruits, sweet potatoes, and veggies.
Ready to tweak your diet? Check out the five best sources of carbs:
Most vegetables are high in complex carbs that provide lasting energy. They also contain fiber, which slows sugar absorption into your system and suppresses hunger.
If you're on a diet, swap starches for veggies. Load up on spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus, artichoke, and lettuce. Serve them with a source of lean protein, such as chicken breast or fish.
Rich in fiber and slow-digesting carbs, quinoa is an excellent substitute for rice. Since it contains all nine essential amino acids, it's a complete protein source. One cup delivers 4.4 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs, three grams of fiber, and 120 calories.
Compared to rice and pasta, this grain has a lower glycemic index (53), so it's unlikely to cause to cause blood sugar spikes. On top of that, it's more nutritious than most grains. Due to its high fiber content, it aids in digestion, promotes satiety, and restores gut flora.
Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes should be a staple in your diet. These starches are naturally sweet and can be used in both sweet and salty dishes.
High in slow-digesting carbs, they energize your body and support healthy digestion. One serving has just 86 calories and provides over 214 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes scavenge oxidative stress and slow down aging.
For the perfect combo of protein and carbs, eat beans. It's a perfect choice for those who need more calories to build muscle and strength. Black beans are particularly beneficial due to their high nutritional value. One cup provides 15.2 grams of protein, 40.8 grams of carbs, and 227 calories.
Additionally, black beans are rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals help restore your electrolyte balance and support cardiovascular health. The B-complex vitamins in beans ward off depression and reduce heart disease risk.
This list wouldn’t be complete without oats. Packed with fiber and complex carbs, oatmeal works great for both cutting and bulking. Beta-glucan, a special type of fiber in oats, prevents obesity and metabolic syndrome. It keeps your blood sugar stable, improves insulin response, and reduces bad cholesterol.
This fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your GI tract, leading to a stronger immune system and better digestion. When consumed regularly, it improves blood lipid profile and glycemic control. Due to its appetite-suppressing properties, it keeps you full longer and curbs food cravings.
There are many other sources of good carbs. It all comes down to your goals and food preferences. A balanced diet may also include amaranth, barley, oat bran, whole pasta, yams, pumpkin, and bananas.