• Emily Achey, MS, RD

The Most Important Thing To Consider When Eating Carbs.

Carbohydrates have a mixed reputation in the diet and fitness industries. Many fear them, thinking the consumption will cause weight gain. But, I am here to tell you with 100% confidence that carbs are an amazing source of nutrition and has the power to optimize your body. Yep, you better believe it! Considering the appropriate intake servings for YOUR body, carbohydrates will fuel your body with its favorite source of energy.

Now that that’s off my chest, let’s define the KEY to CARBS.

Drumroll please….


And I’m not talking about synthetic, processed fiber that it added to products. I’m talking about the naturally occurring fiber that is in whole, unprocessed foods. Let’s take a look at why this is so important.

Why focus on fiber when consuming carbs?

• Satiety.

High fiber carbohydrates will help you feel fuller for longer, compared to a lower fiber counterpart. For example an apple (5g fiber) will lead to greater fullness and satisfaction than apple juice (0g fiber). Fiber (notably soluble fiber) absorbs water throughout the digestive process, which no only slows its transit time, but swells in the stomach, causing it to take up more space. In addition, fiber rich foods generally take more time to chew, leading to decreased consumption time, and possibly decreased overall intake.

• Heart health.

Soluble fiber is known for its powerful benefits in reducing cholesterol. Fiber is an integral part of the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet; a heart- healthy diet geared to facilitate the reduction of cholesterol in at- risk individuals. You know how Cheerio’s and Oatmeal are label “Heart Healthy” on the box? It’s because they contain fiber! While this is true, consuming a fiber- rich food that also provides an array of micronutrients, such as beans or lentils, would likely be a more wholesome option.

• Nutrient density.

Naturally fiber- rich, unprocessed, whole foods, also come along with a host of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that further benefit the body as a whole. Focusing on legumes, whole grains, a variety of starchy vegetables and fruits will surely provide the powerful nutrient density and fiber combo.

• Hello, regularity.

The most commonly known benefit of fiber is bowel regularity! Fiber is an essential component of a healthy digestive system. Insoluble fiber (found primarily in whole grains and vegetables) provides bulk to the stool, and passes through the body without being broken down into simple sugars (a.k.a. not absorbed!). Keep in mind that sudden increases or decreases in fiber intake can cause either constipation or diarrhea. It is best to alter intake a little bit at a time if changing your intake is a goal.

So, now that you know WHY fiber is so important, let’s apply this to some REAL FOOD!

The category of “High Fiber Carbs” can be broken down into 4 groupings:

  1. Legumes

  2. Starchy Vegetables

  3. Whole Grains

  4. Fruits

The following infographic provides a few of the many food sources in each group, with their corresponding value of fiber (g) to compare. Grab a FREE copy of The Master Grocery List for a more comprehensive list HERE.

These 4 groupings of carbohydrates are going to provide an amazing source of fiber, micronutrients and fuel for your body to use as energy. I always recommend including one serving of high fiber carbohydrates in all meals to provide optimal nourishment. The size of these servings will differ, depending on your specific needs!


You may be sitting here wondering: what about the sweets? What if I want some cake, or a processed carbohydrate snack like crackers or chips. My answer to that is: have some! I am a firm promoter of the 80/20 rule. Around 80% of the time (a.k.a most of the time), focus on these whole, unprocessed, fiber rich carb sources. The other 20% is there for you to let life happen, and enjoy it feeling fully nourished without restriction.

For further, individualized nutrition recommendations, contact Emily today!

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