There are a lot of things we should be concerned about with our diet, whether we’re trying to lose weight or not. The type of carbohydrates we eat should eat - regardless of gender, size or age - should be at the top of the list. This healthy carbohydrates meal plan is a good starting point for you if you want to shed a few pounds, improve your overall health or even lower your cholesterol.
Carbohydrates come in all different forms, from a croissant at your local baker to a big salad filled with lots of veggies and leafy greens. Striking a balance of eating mostly healthy carbohydrates and minimizing unhealthy carbohydrates is more than half the battle when it comes to losing weight.
So, for now, forget about dieting and start focusing on the macronutrient we eat more of than any other: carbohydrates
I want to take the guesswork out of what you should eat and what you should avoid by way of carbohydrates.
A Healthy Carbohydrates Meal Plan
Every diet needs to have some amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates. That said, no two people should eat the exact same foods. For example, people with an Apple Shape Body Type should eat more protein and a little more fat, but people with a Pear Shape Body Type should follow more of a low fat diet.
Regardless of what your body type is - the quality of what you eat - especially carbohydrates is incredibly important.
People who spend more time counting calories without reading ingredient labels will almost always be heavier and less healthy than people who spend more time reading ingredient labels and without worrying about calories.
The bottom line: spend more time reading ingredient labels and stop counting calories.
Unless you’re following a Keto Diet - which I’m not a big fan of - you’re probably eating a bunch of carbohydrates during the day. That’s completely ok.
In fact, all vegetables, fruits and grains are carbohydrates. Generally speaking, with the exception of grains that aren't gluten free, those carbohydrates are pretty healthy. Unhealthy carbohydrates start to creep in when we refine or process fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Apples are healthy, but apple juice is generally unhealthy
- Baked potatoes are healthy, but potato chip are not
- Old fashioned oats are healthy, but instant oats are too refined
Here is a deeper look at the difference between healthy vs unhealthy carbohydrates.
Healthy Carbohydrates vs Unhealthy Carbohydrates
If we look back over time, our collective relationship with carbohydrates started getting all messed up in the 1950s with the fear of fat being drilled into our culture. Today, we know dietary fat is not a bad. It's actually very good. But what happened is it turned us toward eating a low fat/high carbohydrate diet.
Carbs are not bad, but somewhere along the line we stopped seeing the difference between good, complex carbohydrates and bad, simple carbohydrates.
Eating too many bad carbohydrates too often is the equivalent of putting bad motor oil into your car. It slows the car down and eventually kills it. The same thing happens to your body.
Here are a few differences between healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates.
Healthy carbohydrates have qualities about them that are missing from unhealthy carbohydrates.
- Healthy carbohydrates are usually higher in fiber.
- Healthy carbohydrates digest slower that unhealthy carbohydrates.
- Healthy carbohydrates have more micronutrients than unhealthy carbohydrates.
- Healthy carbohydrates allow your body to stay at a more optimal body weight.
Healthy carbs can really do a lot for our bodies. Just by making sure that you have plenty of fiber in the foods that you're eating will ensure you're eating healthier and on the right track of better carbohydrates.
Unhealthy carbohydrates trigger responses in your body that encourage fat storage, increase bad cholesterol and greatly affect blood sugar levels.
- Unhealthy carbohydrates contain very little, if any, fiber.
- Unhealthy carbohydrates digest must faster than healthy carbohydrates.
- Unhealthy carbohydrates are stripped of the micronutrients you’ll find in healthy carbohydrates.
- Unhealthy carbohydrates pack body fat on fast.
The Incredible Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is a carbohydrate. Every gram of fiber is about 4 calories. Our body can’t digest fiber, so it doesn’t get absorbed. Ideally, we should eat 35 grams of fiber a day. Most people get around 12 grams.
This is A-OK for our bodies, because a fiber-rich carbohydrate diet helps to:
- Remove toxins from our body
- Reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Slow digestion, helping us feel fuller longer
- Control blood sugar levels
- Add bulk to our stool, helping to reduce constipation
- Increase good gut bacteria
- More optimal body weight/body fat
If you don’t get enough fiber in your diet, you may:
- Feel more bloated
- Increase bad cholesterol
- Feel hungrier due to faster-digesting carbs
- Deal with unruly blood sugar levels, increasing your risk of diabetes
- Become more constipated
- Increase bad gut bacteria
- Increased weight/body fat
As you’ve probably guessed, most healthy carbs have plenty of fiber to offer. The more refined a carbohydrate is, the less fiber it has to offer.
If you’re eating the recommended 35 grams of fiber every day, your digestion is probably good, you’re not as constipated, bloated or dealing with unhealthy body fat.
3-Day Healthy Carbohydrates Meal Plan
This meal plan is pretty simple, but it’s loaded with healthy carbohydrates and plenty of body-loving fiber.
Keep in mind, this plan is appropriate for an average size woman. If you’re a taller man, for example, you may need to eat more. If you’re a shorter woman, you may need to eat a little less.
Tip: To help with digestion, be sure to drink a glass of water 15 minutes before every meal or snack.
- 1 Slice Sprouted Grain Bread/Toast (I like Ezekiel)
- 2 Eggs
- ¾ C Fresh Berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
- Grilled Chicken Salad on Leafy Greens with Vinegar and Oil Dressing*
- 4 oz. Salmon Filet
- 1 C, or about ½ Roasted Sweet Potato w/ 1 - 2 Tsp Oil* + Sea Salt
- 1 C Steamed or Roasted Cauliflower and/or Broccoli w/ 1 Tsp Oil* + Sea Salt
- ½ C Old Fashioned Oats + ½ Chopped Apple + 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil + 1Tsp Cinnamon
- ½ Avocado
- 3 - 4 oz Chicken Breast
- 1 Cup Fresh Vegetables (Carrots, Peppers, Cucumbers, Celery, etc.) + 2 - 3 Tbsp Hummus
- Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Bolognese and a Side Salad (get the recipe)
- Power Smoothie: ½ Avocado, ½ C Frozen Berries, ¼ C Frozen Cauliflower, 1 C Water, 1 Serving Orgain Protein Powder (<my recommendation)
- 1 to 1 ½ C Homemade Vegetarian Chili (one of my favorites) + Mixed Greens Salad with Apple Cider Vinegar and Olive Oil.
- Cashew Chicken Stir Fry (load up on the veggies and make enough for leftovers)
Snacks (eat these only when you're hungry)
- Handful Almonds + Apple Slices
- 1 Hard Boiled Eggs + Carrots
- ½ Avocado
- 1 to 1 ½ Cups Berries + Nut Butter
- Air-popped Popcorn + Coconut Oil
- Plain Full Fat Yogurt + Walnuts + Cinnamon
Tips for Success
- Repeat this meal plan two or three times in a row. It's okay to have some repetition. If you want to see how much of a difference eating healthy carbohydrates can make in your life, commit to this plan for at least one full week. You might notice some other happy changes, too, including better control of your hunger and more stable blood sugar levels.
- Always drink water 15 minutes before every meal or snack - whether you're hungry or not. You'll not only stay hydrated, but you'll digest you foods better, too.
- It's completely fine to vary the fruits and vegetables in this plan, so go ahead and change things up.
- Get more suggestions for high fiber foods here.
Let me know what you think or if you have any questions. I'd love to hear from you!
Hey Traci! I only eat some fish and lots of beans/legumes, fruit veg and whole grains. No dairy or other meats. A lot of your recipes for lunches and dinners are meat based. Any suggestions to help me follow your plan?