It is not just about the exercise

Alternative carbs for that summer body

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you want to feel when summer comes. It may seem like summer has started this week and thank goodness! But with around three months to go before the summer holidays officially start, it’s a realistic amount of time to make some real changes and get a strong and healthy summer body.

Toning up is not just about the exercise we do, it’s also about our diet. Food and exercise go hand in hand, and this week in our summer blog series, we have some simple ideas to help you with your holiday diet. If you are thinking of increasing your exercise regime in the run up to the holidays, it’s important to consider your eating habits and make sure you are fuelling right.

Carbs or no carbs?

A question that often comes up, is Carbs or no Carbs? Is cutting them out of your diet the way to get that perfect summer body? Or are they essential as part of an active lifestyle?

For me as an avid fan of exercise, I come down in favour of maintaining carbohydrate in my diet, without it I lack the energy for exercising.  Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, your body uses carbohydrate to make glycogen which is stored in your muscles, and during exercise it provides your body with the energy it needs.

But not all carbohydrates are created equal! More traditional sources of carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and white rice are highly refined and as such have low nutritional values. They often release energy quickly and cause a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a slump.

To sustain exercise over longer periods and be generally healthier, it is much better to look for slower energy releasing carbs. Recently I have found some interesting alternatives to the highly processed ‘white’ carbohydrates and I wanted to share these more nutritious carb sources with you. You can still make all your favourite recipes, but here are some simple substitutions to make your dinner a healthier one!

Alternatives to traditional carbs

Lentil Spaghetti is one of my new favourites and has been an interesting alternative to white spaghetti. It is very flexible in how it can be used, it’s high in protein and can be used in dishes such as bolognaise or carbonara. If you try this, make sure you choose one without added cornflour as that simply provides empty calories. You can buy lentil pasta at Holland and Barrett.

Brown rice pasta is a delicious alternative to white pasta and is also a good source of protein.  It is available in most major supermarkets, I’ve found it in Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose, but I’m sure there are others too!

Another great alternative is quinoa pasta, it has a nice texture and it has more protein in than most of the other options so it’s great for muscle repair and recovery. Spelt pasta and whole wheat pasta are also worth trying and both are rich in fibre.

I love the choice of alternatives to white rice that are currently on offer at a lot of supermarkets, I have just recently discovered sweet potato rice which has been a big hit in my house, it tastes great with a vegetable tagine!

I have started making my own bread too, which far from being the difficult process I had envisioned, it’s actually pretty fun and takes less than 10 minutes in the evening to prepare. We chuck all the ingredients in our new breadmaking machine and have a lovely fresh loaf in the morning. No more processed supermarket bread. Our loaves tend to last around 3 days, so I only need to make it twice a week. I never thought I would have time to make bread, but it is so quick and is worth it if you are looking for a less processed bread that will sustain energy over a longer period.

The great news is there are so many nutritious products on offer at the shops and supermarkets, and it’s often exciting to try out new alternatives. For me, I’ll be keeping carbohydrate in my diet in the run up to my summer exercise goals, I’ll just be finding more nutritious options. Have you got a favourite alternative to more traditional sources of carbs? Do you have a favourite recipe to share with us? We would love to hear from you, just comment below or send us a link to one of your go to alternative carb recipes.

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