Healthy fats and carbs should be a part of everyone’s diet. Over the years, the health and fitness industry has made us believe that in order to be healthy and lose excess weight, we should cut out all fats from our diet. Eventually this changed and we started attacking carbohydrates. It can all get pretty confusing! The truth is that the human body needs a healthy balance of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) in order to function properly. Therefore cutting out any one of them from your diet is not a good idea.
The body also needs to move every single day. We were not designed to sit all day long (think modern life: car, desk job, TV and sofa!). The key to being healthy and staying in good shape is eating the right kinds of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, eating them in balanced/moderate amounts i.e. not over eating and getting a daily dose of exercise. There is no magic recipe or pill. Just real food and some movement.
I never believed in fad diets. Not even when I was an overweight teenager and embarked on a weight loss/fitness journey. When I wanted to lose weight at 17 I decided to make healthier food choices and cut out all the junk, as opposed to leaving out high calorie, but healthy foods from my diet. There are so many misconceptions about healthy food and so many nutritious foods are tagged as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘fattening’ when it’s really not the case. Till today (and I always will!), I eat plenty of fatty and carby foods, and I’m strong, healthy and in good shape.
Here are some examples of healthy, good sources of fats and carbohydrates which you should include in your diet, and also a list of those which you should cut out or eat less of. Think: healthy = food in its most natural form, unhealthy = fake food or processed food.
Healthy sources of fats
- Avocado’s – OMG, YUM! This little fruit (yes it’s a fruit!) is packed with fibre, has plenty of potassium and healthy fats and can actually help lower cholesterol.
- Eggs – eggs are another great source of fats and also protein. The yolk is a good source of omega-3 fats (these fats help prevent heart disease and also help in lowering blood pressure) and also contains vitamins A, D, E & K. DO NOT throw away the egg yolk, eat that egg whole!!
- Fish – fish is another great source of omega-3 fatty acids apart from having numerous other health benefits. Try go for wild fish.
- Raw nuts – Raw nuts contain many minerals and vitamins and are another good source of healthy fats. Eat them raw as these will contain much more nutritional benefits than roasted ones.
- Extra virgin olive oil – contains healthy fats, anti-inflammatory (good for healing), antioxidants (also good for healing) and helps prevent heart disease.
- Chia seeds – High in omega-3 fatty acids. Also high in protein, antioxidants and fibre.
- Animal fat such as dairy – Eating some sort of animal fat on a daily basis has proven to help with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
** Remember – everything in moderation is ok, everything in excess is not!
Sources of fats to avoid
All of these foods are high in trans fats. They increase ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and suppress ‘good’ cholesterol. They’re also highly inflammatory increasing risk for heart disease, stroke and reduce the body’s healing potential.
- Fried foods – e.g. fast food, fries
- Margerine – butter is a better choice!
- Baked goods – e.g. croissants, cakes, pastries
- Most processed foods – e.g. crisps
Good sources of carbohydrates
- Rice – rice is a good source of fuel because energy is released into the blood stream slowly and therefore avoids blood sugar spikes/crashes. Rice also contains many vitamins and minerals.
- Potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) – good source of potassium and vitamin C and also a good energy source.
- Quinoa – High in fibre, magnesium and many other nutrients.
- Oats – Also high in fibre and a great energy source. Can help prevent heart disease.
- Buckwheat – contains protein and fibre and plenty of minerals and antioxidants.
- Fruit and veg – contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and numerous other health benefits.
Sources of carbohydrates to avoid
- Pasta – white pasta is essentially a processed food. It is not really bad for you but it lacks nutrition and therefore filling up on too much pasta will inevitably make you eat less nutritious food. Also, energy from pasta is released into the bloodstream quickly so it can cause blood sugar spike, and subsequently a blood sugar crash that leaves you craving a ‘pick-me-up’.
- Bread – same as above.
- Sugar – Think all sugary treats but processed foods have lots of hidden sugars!
- Junk food – Pizza, fries and the list goes on and on. I don’t think I need to explain why these are unhealthy.
Many of the healthy fats and carbs on the lists above have a ‘bad’ reputation and are thought of as being unhealthy or very fattening. The truth is, there is no food that is calorie free. But there are empty calories and nutritious calories. I will never skimp on high calorie foods that give me an abundance of nutrition (e.g. avocado). But I will skip the high calorie foods that give me absolutely nothing in terms of health benefits (e.g. chocolate or sweets). Focus on eating real, healthy food, irrelevant of how many calories it has. Cut out junk food and sugary foods (even limiting alcohol consumption). Do some form of exercise on most days. If you do this, you will lose weight and you will be healthier and happier, both mentally and physically!