It is true that a low-carb diet can help you achieve quick weight loss results, but this isn't always the best way to do it if you are looking for something lasting. The fact is, we need carbs - especially when living an active lifestyle. If you find yourself confused about carbohydrates and the differences between simple and complex carbs, we're here to help! Time to set things straight once and for all.
Along with fats and proteins, carbohydrates are considered macronutrients. We need all three of these things because they are what provides our body with energy. Carbohydrates can be broken down further into simple and complex carbs. Both types of carbs are broken down into glucose in the body, which our muscles use for energy. The classification is based on molecular structure, which determines how the carbs are broken down and absorbed by the body. Complex carbs are longer molecule chains and therefore, take longer to break down and be absorbed than simple carbs.
Simple carbs get utilized quickly, which leads to a rapid spike in blood sugar. This can leave you feeling tired and hungry shortly after consuming them. Simple carbs are naturally found in foods like fruit, milk products, white bread, and table sugar. Complex carbs, on the other hand, release glucose much more slowly into the blood stream. This supplies the body with a much more steady energy supply. Blood sugar remains stable and hunger pangs are avoided.
Found in legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole grains, complex carbs help keep you feeling satisfied longer. Many dietitians recommend working complex carbohydrates into your weight loss meal planning. Try working in appropriate portion sizes of things like quinoa, whole grain oats, brown rice and lentils. They will fill you up and help you lose weight!
Here are some great recipes to get you started tonight!
Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake
INGREDIENTS1 cup uncooked quinoa 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 2 apples, peeled, diced 1/4 cup raisins 2 eggs 2 cups vanilla soy milk 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/3 cup almonds, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch baking dish (an 8-by-8 works too).
- In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into greased dish.
- Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.
- In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the soy milk and maple syrup.
- Pour the egg-and-milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.
- Bake for 1 hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.
- Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate. In the morning, cut a square, microwave it on a plate, and enjoy alone or with a few dollops of Greek yogurt.
Overnight Oats With Chia Seeds And Slivered Almonds
INGREDIENTS1/2 cup rolled oats 1/2 cup coconut milk 1 tablespoon chia seeds 2 tablespoons slivered almonds 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mix all the ingredients together in a glass jar. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, remove from the fridge, top off with your favorite fresh fruit, and enjoy!
Brown Rice Sushi Bowl
INGREDIENTSFor dressing: 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 3 tablespoons light-colored (usukuchi) soy sauce 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1 teaspoon honey 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil For chirashi bowl: 4 cups freshly cooked brown rice, preferably short grain 1/4 cup prepared sushi vinegar or rice wine vinegar 1 small navel orange 6 oz. sushi-grade albacore tuna, diced 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half 1/3 English cucumber, diced 1/2 cup shelled edamame 2 cups mixed salad greens Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, making sure the honey is dissolved. Set aside.
- Using a flat wooden paddle or a spatula with a cutting motion, mix the sushi vinegar into the warm brown rice. Do not use a stirring motion to avoid mashing the rice grains. Cover the rice and set aside.
- Cut the tops and bottoms off of the orange. Standing the orange on a cut end, use a knife to cut the peel and pith off of the orange working from top to bottom. Once the orange is peeled, cut crosswise into slices, and then cut the slices into cubes.
- Combine diced oranges, albacore tuna, grape tomatoes, diced cucumber, and shelled edamame in a bowl. Add the reserved dressing and toss to combine.
- Divide the reserved brown sushi rice between four bowls. In each bowl, place the salad greens in one quarter on top of the rice, and on the other side put one quarter of the albacore mixture. Sprinkle on sesame seeds if you wish, and enjoy.
Spicy Sweet Potato Salad
INGREDIENTS4 large sweet potatoes 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 1/2 cup sliced scallion 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves 1 or 2 fresh minced chiles (jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habanero), or to taste 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces. Put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with two tablespoons of the oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove and keep on the pan until ready to dress.
- Make the dressing while the potatoes cook. Put the remaining six tablespoons of oil in a blender, along with the vinegar, bell pepper, cumin, and zest if you're using it. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Purée until smooth.
- Toss the warm potatoes with the scallion, mint, chiles, and raisins if you're using them. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing, and toss to coat, adding more if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Red Pepper And Lentil Bake
INGREDIENTS1 teaspoon olive oil 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 cup lentils, such as Puy or green 2 1/2 cups low-sodium, organic vegetable broth 4 red bell peppers, deseeded and chopped 1 large cooking apple such as Granny Smith or McIntosh, peeled, cored, and chopped 2 teaspoons dried basil 1/4 cup white wine 14 ounces canned chopped tomatoes 1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese 1/3 ounce shredded parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil gently in a large saucepan, add onion and garlic, and fry for five minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Add lentils and stir, then add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Add the peppers, basil, apple, white wine, and canned tomatoes and mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to an oven-proof 9-by-13 baking dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Cook in oven for 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately, or freeze remaining portions in individual servings.
How do you eat your complex carbs? For more meal ideas, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan!