Paleo and Carbs: Where Should They Come From?
If you’ve just started your Paleo diet, you’re probably working to cut a lot of “bad stuff” from your diet. Things like wheat, barley, potatoes, and legumes are off-limits, along with anything else you can’t catch with a spear. But if you’re wrestling with symptoms of the dreaded “low carb flu”, or worrying about the future effects of cutting those things out of your diet, you might need a little good advice.
The Dangers Of Carbs
For starters, you might be wondering why you’re avoiding carbs in the first place. One of the problems with high-carb foods is that they’re high in calories and don’t deliver a lot of nutrients. Imagine how many calories you’d eat trying to get full on rice and bread! Vegetables on the other hand, can deliver a lot more in the way of nutrients.
Things like refined grains and sugars also pack a lot of stuff like gluten and glucose that lowers our overall health and ability to burn fat.
How Many Carbs Do You Need?
Believe it or not, the average person can operate on much fewer carbs that we’re used to. Carbs can be a great source of energy when you’re working out heavily, but if you’re working at a desk, you don’t need a great deal. In fact, when your body doesn’t see any carb energy to burn, it burns fat instead.
You might not see this when you’re first dieting and lacking in energy because of a lack of carbs. But be patient – this may be a sign that your body has become too dependent on carbs and isn’t adapted towards using fat as an energy source. Add a little more fat to your diet and give yourself a couple of weeks to adjust physically before bumping up your carb intake.
What Should You Eat To Get Your Carbs?
In the Paleo diet, it’s important to get your carbohydrates from foods that occur naturally in the wild and don’t need to be boiled down, milled, or processed before you eat them. Carbs aren’t universally bad, but getting them from the deadly sources that make up for most of the modern Western diet (fructose, white sugar, grains, processed foods) can make you sick and don’t have a lot of nutritional benefit.
Look to roots to supplement this part of your diet. Plantains, Parsnips, Sweet Potatoes and Yams are all very strong sources of carbohydrates. There are also fruits like raisins, bananas and dates that deliver a lot of carbohydrates. They’re allowed under the Paleo diet, but try not to go overboard, especially if you’re just getting started with the diet, because they have a high glycemic index.
When Should You Eat It?
Don’t just eat these high-carb foods whenever you have a craving. One of the benefits of the Paleo diet is changing your attitude towards food and treating it like fuel instead of entertainment. Think strategically. Because of their glycemic index, fruits tend to activate quickly in the body. Because of this, you can take them right before working out so that you can quickly access this energy. It’s also good to have this after you’ve had a long, cardio based workout.
Vegetables, tubers, and roots, on the other hand, give you a more stable carb lift. You can take these to refresh your muscles right after a workout. You might have avoiding some of these foods because they aren’t obvious Paleo diet sources, but they don’t come with the health risks of most Western starch sources and are fine to eat, according to Mark Sisson, author of “The Primal Blueprint”.
Remember that carbs are okay in moderate amounts, and it’s important to be in touch with your activity level and metabolism.