What are they, why do you need them, and where do you find them? We’re all about the top 5 plant-based carbs today—the healthy kind!
Carbohydrates, which fuel the body, are essential for optimal performance. Although your muscles need carbs to burn during exercise, it’s all about eating the right kind of carbs – that is, complex carbs. Your body naturally craves complex carbs for sustained energy. Don’t ignore these cravings! Complex Carbs are our bodies’ preferred source of energy. To make sure you’re getting enough energy required for your activity level, eat a variety of fruits, whole-grain pastas and breads, and vegetables, and eat these complex carbs in small doses throughout the day to ensure optimum glycogen storage.
Here are the top five plant-based complex carbs for athletes:
The slow-burning source of energy that sweet potatoes provide is amazing for athletes. The sugars in sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index and full of vitamin A and antioxidants. They soothe sore muscles and maintain fluids in the body. They can be baked into fresh fries, shredded into burgers and chopped into soups, stews, and stir-fried meals.
This grass is more diverse and nutritious than brown rice because it contains both protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free, high in fiber, and easy to break down. It’s a great source of vitamins A, C, and E, along with zinc and potassium. This makes it a nutritional powerhouse for a moving body and a great post-workout meal. Wild rice can be eaten in salad and tastes amazing in soups.
They’re the perfect heart-healthy breakfast grain. High in fiber and low in saturated fat. They contain magnesium, which helps maintain nerve and muscle function and metabolic reactions in the body. Have some for breakfast or load it into a power bar or muffin.
Bananas contain not only potassium that helps restore nerve and muscle function but also vitamin C. They help support the immune system and contain prebiotics that help maintain healthy bacteria in your gut. They provide a quick natural source of energy and sugar and make the perfect snack for a busy body. Smoothies, cereals, cookies, and desserts are a few great places for bananas.
(NOTE: If you're thinking about adding more bananas or healthy carbs into your diet, download our smoothie eBook. It has over 50 recipes for you to use! Best part is, it's FREE.)
Chickpeas provide a good amount of complex carbs per cup, as well as protein and fiber. The slow, steady release of carbs helps to balance blood-sugar levels over long periods of high activity. They’re great for dips, in salads and soups, or even just to snack on.
Remember to avoid food with a high glycemic index such as corn, white potatoes, instant cereals, white rice, white bread, and other refined foods. They raise your blood sugar and insulin levels rapidly.