One of the biggest fitness myths out there is that fats and carbs are bad for us. That simply isn’t true. It is not necessary to exclude fats or carbohydrates from your diet in order to maintain a healthy body. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, fats give us energy, help our cells absorb nutrients, support hormone production, and more. And carbs can be a good source of energy. Like everything else in life, it’s really all about balance.
Rather than excluding entire food categories, it is much more beneficial to simply eat mindfully. One of the best health practices I’ve learned over the years is intermittent fasting, which simply means confining your meals and snacks to the same eight-hour window of time each day. Notice, I didn’t mention anything about counting calories or restricting foods.
Personally, I actually consume a lot of fats each day. Sometimes, I start the day with a bulletproof coffee with heavy cream, butter, or ghee. It really jumpstarts my energy and sustains me. And not only do fats like these fuel our brain, they are great for our hair and skin, too. I love a yummy and filling shake with almond milk, MCT oil, and almond or peanut butter.
Speaking of nuts, I am a huge fan of almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and even walnuts, all of which are great sources of healthy fats. (Macadamia nuts, in particular, also have wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits.) Then, of course there is avocado, which is great in shakes, salads, or even as a quick snack. And of course olive oil is fantastic for cooking, salad dressings, and more. I also eat a lot of salmon and meat which provide ample amounts of protein and fat.
While I tend to avoid eating processed food in general, I don’t exclude fats or carbs from my diet. Sometimes, my body tells me that I really need a slice of pizza (and a glass of wine), and I listen. I am a big believer in listening to our bodies! I’m not afraid of rice or mad at pasta either. But I will share an epiphany I had that you may find interesting.
When I think about it, the carbs we most commonly eat add very little flavor or nutrition to our meals. Think about it for a second. Rice is pretty bland until we put something on it. The same goes for pasta. And baked potatoes. And bread. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should banish those foods, but eating mindfully does mean stopping to think about your choices, and then choosing with intention.
If what you really crave is a savory stir fry, rice may not actually add anything to your enjoyment. If you love bolognese, spaghetti squash or zucchini pasta might be a tastier and more nutritious alternative to plain pasta. Bread tends to make me feel bloated and uncomfortable, but a lettuce wrap adds a light, fresh, crisp pop that highlights the tasty contents inside. Again, it’s not about denying yourself something you really want. It’s about making sure you know what you really want to begin with.
I love a high-protein, high-fat salad, like a Cobb salad, loaded with bacon, cheese, chicken or salmon, and a cornucopia of veggies! Avocados, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and even nuts, all add amazing flavor, color, texture, fiber, and vitamins that our bodies need to perform their very best. And they all contain healthy carbs, fats, or both.
The really great thing about natural carbs that come in the form of high-fiber vegetables and fruits, is that the fiber makes our bodies work just a little harder to extract all those nutrients. That means we literally burn more calories digesting those foods. Plus, our body processes those carbs more slowly and evenly so that we don’t get a short-term carb high and a subsequent energy crash. This is the way our bodies were meant to be fueled!
Ultimately, it is not necessary or even healthy to exclude fats and carbs from your diet. We can certainly always make healthier choices about the types of fats and carbs we put into our body. But there are plenty of delicious options to choose from if we simply practice mindfulness in our purchases, planning, and preparation.
Buy healthy fats, carbs, and proteins and skip processed foods that will literally make you feel bad and leave your energy depleted. Plan ahead for meals, snacks, and emergencies. (This includes keeping some dark chocolate in the fridge at all times.) Prep your foods in advance so that good choices are fast, easy, and convenient to access. And keep your calorie intake limited to within an eight-hour period during the day. I promise you, your body will begin to change for the better. And you won’t have to banish fat or carbs to do it.