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For years we have grown up thinking that the food pyramid has this irreplaceable base of pastas, breads, and rice. Carbohydrates have become the holy grail of our diets to the complete detriment of healthy fats. Carbohydrates represent the biggest portion of our daily food intake. We have spoken on other occasions about how a carb-based diet isn’t the healthiest choice for our bodies, and in a lockdown (like now) this becomes even more clear given the disproportion of what we eat vs what we burn.
These days people’s daily consumption of carbs has increased since pasta and rice stay good for longer and are easy to cook. So, we are going to look at why this isn’t the best choice for us, and what equally tasty and quick alternatives there are to include in our diet.
Vicious Circle: The more we consume the more we need
When we eat carbs, our body generates insulin which then converts to glucose, and that is the source of our energy. The problem comes from certain groups of carbohydrates, like in industrial bread or pastries, which cause a greater release of insulin in proportion to what is actually present in the food. The peak of blood glucose and energy is high but very fast. It’s almost like a spring because it also drops quickly causing the body to need to consume more of the same thing to achieve that “high” again. In the long run, we cause ourselves to need more insulin to tolerate this process. We are basically forcing the machine, thus making us need more and more. And the sugars that we don’t need and don’t use just get stored in our bodies in the form of fat.
Carbs don’t just exist in pasta, they are in fruits and vegetables too. The difference is the kind of carb and the rest of the nutrients that go along with it. Supermarket donuts, soft drinks, alcohol, processed food, or industrial pastries do not contain the necessary proportion of vitamins and minerals for our health. Instead, they have a large presence of refined carbs which is in complete contrast to fruits, vegetables, and even nuts. These foods contain carbohydrates along with other vitamins that take longer to digest in the body and thus provide longer-lasting energy as well as providing fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Alternatives to Carbs: The best foods during lockdown
During lockdown, even if we are working out at home, we are burning far fewer calories than in our usual daily lives. On a normal day, we are constantly moving, and we are not just talking about playing sports, but rather, moving from place to place, walking around the office, walking down the street, going up the stairs, etc… Therefore, we can see that it’s necessary to reduce our carbohydrate intake and opt for healthier choices that give us longer-lasting energy. So, what foods on our shopping list can replace all these carbs?
Meat, Fish, eggs, olive oil, butter
Quinoa, sweet potato, nut-based flours
Seeds: Chia, Flax, Psyllium
Nuts: Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts
Fruits and Veggies: Avocado, Broccoli, grapes, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, garlic, parsley, spinach, pumpkin, and pears.
Flours: Oatmeal, Tapioca, Almond, Quinoa, and Coconut
Fats: Essential Micronutrients
As we said before, fats have been detested by the industrial food industry in favor of sugars and carbohydrates. However, they are the only essential macronutrients that keep our bodies developing and functioning properly. Consuming fats guarantees long-lasting energy: its power to fulfill us allows us to space out our food and consume less. To test this is quite simple: Eating a bag of potato chips is relatively easy, but what about a small bag of hazelnuts? We get full faster and at the same time, we consume something that gives our body more nutrients.
Many people think that eating meat, eggs, or butter is more detrimental to our health than a plate of pasta. We have to stop linking fats to cardiovascular diseases and start linking obesity directly to the consumption of sugar. The fat from steak is not only necessary but benefits us in the long run. However, people who prefer to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can get the same healthy fat directly from seeds, quinoa, avocado, sweet potatoes, and nuts.
It’s not easy to change our beliefs and eating habits that we have grown up with overnight. It’s about learning and trying to understand what each food provides and how our bodies process them. We challenge you to track the fluctuations in your energy levels when consuming refined carbohydrates compared to those without. And, if you incorporate these new habits into your diet, we are sure that you will discover flavors and combinations that are bound to surprise you.
Here are a few of our favorite low-carb dishes:
Zucchini ravioli with chicken pesto
Spinach Quiche with a Carrot base
Almond Cream Glazed Donuts
Granola tartlets with red berries