Carbohydrates, along with proteins and fats, are one of the three macronutrients required for our bodies to function optimally.
In order to stay fit, healthy and full of energy, these macronutrients should make up most of our diet.
There are two categories of carbs – refined carbs and complex carbs.
- Refined carbs refer to anything made from simple sugar and processed grains which have been processed to remove nutrients and fibre. They are broken down into blood glucose rapidly by the body, causing a boost of energy followed by a ‘slump’ as blood sugar drops again.
- Complex carbs, including wholegrains and most vegetables, are not broken down into glucose rapidly by the body. They are digested and converted to blood glucose more slowly, and provide a more steady, long-lasting source of energy.
Making this switch will boost your fibre intake, balance your blood sugar and lower your risk of various diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Also, eating healthy high-carb foods will keep your energy levels high on those days where you don’t stop for a moment!
So what foods are high in carbs?
A source of complex carbs, grains have a big role to play in keeping us healthy. They provide vitamins, minerals and fibre, as well as delivering energy to our body’s cells.
Brown rice, bread and pasta made from wholegrain flour, quinoa and buckwheat are high in carbs so filling up on these before a busy, active day will give you long-lasting energy. They also contain good amounts of nutrients and fibre, making them a great daily choice for overall health.
Swap refined white carbs with wholegrain versions and see the difference to your energy levels in just a few days. Be sure to increase your intake of fluids if you’re introducing more fibre to your diet to avoid digestive issues e.g. constipation.
Why is fibre important? Check out our Fibre FAQs
Bananas are a high-carb food, high in starch and natural sugar. Don’t let this put you off them. Gym-goers and active types love bananas as they provide 100% natural energy and are excellent sources of potassium and vitamin C.
And other fruits…
The term ‘carbohydrate’ covers a broad array of foods and beverages. People think of bread and pasta when they consider carbs, but carbohydrates can be in the form of sugar, fibre or starch.
As a result, you might be surprised at some of the things which are high in carbs. For example, did you know that blueberries, apples and oranges were high-carb foods? They pack a punch of energy thanks to their natural sugars.
Try switching cakes and other high-carb sugary foods with fruit and Greek yoghurt for filling sweetness without the sugar rush. Or try our Blueberry and Banana Loaf recipe.
Chickpeas, legumes red kidney beans, butter beans, cannellini beans – the list of legumes is long. They’re also rich in the type of complex carbs that keep you full for hours while slowly digesting, providing you with slow-release energy.
Beans and lentils count as one portion towards your daily intake of fruit and vegetables and can be the base of countless dishes. Try our Almond Lentil Stew recipe.
The magnificent sweet potato is a nutritional all-rounder. Packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese – as well as fibre and even a little protein – they are high in energy-giving complex carbohydrates for a relatively low calorie count. Try our Sweet Potato Quesadillas recipe.
Last updated: 1 April 2020