Today we are gonna talk about our old friend and my favorite nutrient, carbs. Carbs come in two forms, simple and complex… if you need a quick rundown of what a carb is, hit up the “WTF are Macros?” episode. Carbs get a bad rap, and we are here to dispel some of the mean things people have said about our good friend the carbohydrate. We do have to mention we are not nutritionists and you should consult your physician before engaging in any fitness and nutrition plan.
WHY EXACTLY DO WE *NEED* CARBS?
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel, so it’s not a stretch to say that your body needs carbs to properly function. Deep, right?
- They help your brain work better! Doctors say if you don’t have enough glucose, which is a simple carb; you lose your ability to think, learn, and remember stuff because neurotransmitters in your brain don’t have enough glucose to synthesize correctly.
- They keep you from being so bloaty. Which, let’s be honest, is something we can ALL appreciate. Being bloated suuuuucks. Poop talk in 3…2…1… good carbs like whole grains, fruit, and veggies have a lot of fiber. And as we’ve discussed before, fiber helps you dook! If your system is regular, you’ll be less bloated because your body can get rid of waste more efficiently. SCIENCE!
- They make you happy. Literally. Carbs ARE happiness, it’s now been scientifically proven! Most carbs have tryptophan (which is also what makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner) and that helps produce serotonin in your brain. Doctors say you’re more likely to get depressed and have sleeping issues if you’re not getting enough carbs.
- Those are the biggest advantages of having healthy carb sources in your diet. Some of the other bonuses include: lots of B vitamins which help you make energy from food and make red blood cells, whole-grain carbs help reduce your chance of heart disease and lower your cholesterol levels, and… they just taste good.
THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN BREAD AND PASTA
When you say the word “carbohydrate,” I bet the first food that pops into your brain is bread or pasta. There is more to life than bread and pasta, these foods have higher carb counts than a slice of whole wheat bread, which comes in at around 14 grams of carbs.
- Chickpeas! They contain 35 grams of carbs, only 6 of those grams are from sugar. They add up to 210 calories per cup and give you 11 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. So if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, work more chickpeas into your diet.
- Soy milk. Someone just cringed hearing me say the words “soy milk,” and that’s okay. Anyway. Soy milk comes from soy beans, and those are loaded with complex carbs. One cup of soy milk contains 15 grams of carbs, plus 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat for 131 calories.
- Apples. One large apple has 27 grams of carbs, it also come with 5 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of fat, and 114 calories.
- Raisins. A quarter cup of raisins has 33 grams of carbs, that’s twice as much as a slice of bread. They come in with 1.5 grams of fiber and 309 milligrams of potassium for 123 calories.
- Sweet Potatoes. A medium sweet potato has 24 grams of carbs and only runs you 105 calories… did someone say “air fryer sweet potato fries?”
LET’S COOK SOME CARBS!
Sweet potato and/or rutabaga fries. These are simple! Just cut up your sweet potato into fries, and you’ll have to peel and then cut up the rutabaga. then put them in a freezer bag drizzle with olive oil (you can go heavy or light, you’ll just have to account for the extra or minimalized fat in your macros.) I typically use about a tablespoon for a fairly large sweet potato. I like to use a little salt, pepper, spanish paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and my favorite underrated seeasoning: rosemary!
- you can either toss these in the oven or the air fryer. The times and temps vary depending on which is your preference. Air fryer is about 14 minutes on 400 with a toss at 7 minutes. Oven is 425 for about 20 or so minutes, or until they’re soft but browned on the outside
- One medium rutabaga has 143 calories, 33 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, .5 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber.
My favorite go-to carb right now is instant pot sushi rice. Goes great with any Asian dish – stir fry, dumplings, poke bowls, or if you’re ambitious you can make your own sushi. Sushi rice is super easy to construct – especially if you have an instant pot, tastes awesome, and you can bulk prep it.
- You’ll need 2 cups of short grain or sushi rice, 2 cups of water, 4 tablespoons rice win, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 tablespoons sugar, and ½ a teaspoon salt.
- Rinse the rice for a few minutes and drain well. Grab your instant pot and throw in the rice and water, mix it around a little bit for good measure then seal that lid and set it to 12 minutes on high pressure if your IP doesn’t have a rice setting.
- Once the rice is finished, let it naturally release pressure for ten minutes then release the valve and fluff the rice with a fork.
- In a small bowl; combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt… nuke it for 30 seconds and pour the mixture over the rice and fold it in. The rice will become sticky as it dries. SERVES 4 – 2g protein, 7g fat, 34g carbs – 215 calories per serving.
Carbs. Essential for bodily functions, fuel your workouts, and damn tasty. For show notes, recipes, training resources, and more hit our website meathead test kitchen dot com. As always, if you have questions, we probably have answers… email us, hello at meathead test kitchen dot com. Keep up with us on IG and Facebook at meathead test kitchen and on twitter at mtk staff!