A Bar Method Student’s Guide to Complex Carbohydrates

It’s no secret that carbs are a super important macronutrient and give your body heaps of energy. However, despite it’s ability to act as fuel to power you through the day, trendy diets and weight loss buzz can discourage people from consuming enough of them. Rather than cut carbs out completely, the key to maintain good energy levels while achieving your fitness and health goals is actually to find the right carbs.

You might already know there are different kinds of carbs and that that complex carbs are much better for you (especially on days that you do something active, like take a Bar Method class) than simple carbs. The outstanding problem? Even the healthiest nutrition labels don’t tell you which kind of carb you’re about to consume.  Understanding how each gets classified and what it can do for you will help you make the healthiest choices while eating all of your favorite fall foods. To get the scoop, we talked with Monica Auslander of Essence Nutrition in Miami, FL.

Carbs, explained.

Comprised from fiber, starch and sugar, carbohydrates are in tons of different foods. Starches like bread and sugar might pop into your mind first, but foods like dairy, fruits, veggies, nuts and sweets also have them.

The differentiator between the carbs in all of your favorite foods is how much fiber, starch and sugar are in each. Though sugar is a simple carb and packs less nutritional value (Pumpkin Spice Latte, anyone?), fiber and starch are present in complex carbs. This group is much more nutritious.

Carbs can be Complex. Literally.

Complex carbs have more nutrients because they’re higher in fiber, which means your body digests them at a slower rate. This helps you feel full longer, too — a key thing to note if your health and fitness goals include losing weight.

Though starch is found in some of the same foods as fiber, some are considered more starchy than fibrous (like potatoes). Corn, rice, oats, cereal and whole grain bread also rank high on the high starch lists.

With their ability to power you through a tough workout or just an ordinary day, a handful of complex carbohydrates definitely belong in your regular diet. The following are a few to consider — all of which are perfect for the coming Autumn season.

Whole grains. Excellent sources of fiber, grains are also packed with potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Whole grains such as buckwheat, and whole-wheat pasta are awesome choices and if you get tire of them, Monica swears by rye, spelt and quinoa varieties. We even found an award-winning pasta made from chickpeas. As she says, “What a time to be alive!”

Beans. In addition to lots of fiber, beans have a bevy of nutrients that include potassium, iron and folate Mix yours into a turkey chili or warm burrito bowl for a delicious, complex-carb filled meal.

High-fiber fruits. Melons might have come and gone with summer, but fiber-rich fruits like apples and bananas are still easy to snap up — and in season! Try adding almond or cashew butter to yours for a delicious high-protein snack after crushing a Bar Method class. For something super seasonal, Monica suggests making your own cranberry sauce. “Go homemade, with pectin. The reason is that Pectin is a resistant starch which is great for digestion. Cranberries have Vitamin C so some will trickle into a homemade sauce, too.”

Fiber-rich veggies. Fall is a great time to take full advantage of seasonal recipes like a sweet potato bake with delicious high-fiber veggies. Monica says, “Cook with pumpkin, even from a can! You’ll also get some Vitamin A and magnesium. Squashes are a great choice too; cook with butternut, acorn squash or even spaghetti squash.”

Have a link to a favorite fall food recipe packed with complex carbs? Share it with us in the comments.

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