19 – Carbs Aren’t Evil

Carbs aren’t bad… 

It’s just usually, we eat too much of them. 

We need carbs to have a healthy balanced diet – and yes there is a place for ALL carbohydrates, including the bread & cake!

I’m going to give you the run-down on carbs, in a long term programme I’d ask you to focus on this as your new habit but from here on out all the information I give you is purely to educate you – and YOU then go on and decide what habits are best to suit your lifestyle, at a PACE that you’re comfortable with.

For the remainder of the programme I still want you to slow down, make mindful choices, plan your meals & get that protein into ya!  If you’re planning your meals it’s likely you’re already getting a good balance in – crack on!


What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients, calorie providing foods, that we need to get from our diet.  Fats and proteins are the other two. All vegetables, fruits, sugars, grains, potatoes beans and some nuts and seeds are all types of carbohydrates, but not all are considered “starchy carbs”.

Starchy carbohydrates refer to all grains, potatoes, squash vegetables, beans, and legumes.

Before we get too deep into starchy carbohydrates, you first need to understand the two different types of carbohydrates.  

There are 2 kinds of carbohydrate foods:


Simple carbohydrates or “fast carbs

  • Simple carbohydrates are sugars.

  • They are broken down and used by the body very quickly which results in a quick spike of energy followed by a crash.

  • Simple carbohydrates are typically added to foods.  Think raw sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrate.

  • Food that contains a lot of simple sugars are things like baked goods, soda, juice, cereal, or cookies.  Most processed foods will contain some amount of simple carbohydrates.      


Complex carbohydrates or slow carbs

  • Complex carbohydrates can be starches or fiber.

  • Complex carbs take longer for your body to breakdown.  They are used over time for steady energy in the case of starch or improve our digestion in the case of fiber . 

  • Complex carbs also provide a number of vitamins and minerals.  

  • Types of complex carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, legumes, and more.  


Take home point here is the body reacts to these two types of carbs very differently.  Complex carbs are digested slowly  simple carbs are digested quickly.  In this case, slow is better.  

This habit is all about starchy carbohydrates, even though, fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates those are covered alone in a separate habit.  This habit is all about the carbohydrates you think of when someone says “I am watching my carbs.” Foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, whole grains, legumes and even more obscure foods like quinoa, buckwheat or farro.  


Why do we want to eat starchy carbs?

  • Starchy carbs are broken down by the body into glucose and then used for energy to repair muscle and other tissues.

  • They are especially important for people who exercise – they fuel your activity and replace energy stores.

  • They are a major source of  in your diet and help keep your digestive system moving. 🙂

  • They are important sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  


The post-workout window is one of the best times to restore the energy lost during the workout and start rebuilding and getting stronger.  


How much starchy carbohydrates should you be aiming to have?

You want to aim for having 1 rounded handful of starchy carbs per meal. Although as you’ll learn, the exact number of starchy complex carbohydrates you need depends primarily on your unique body.

Keep in mind that you are going to still be eating plenty of carbs in general, because carbs, like vegetables, make up a good part of your diet.

The number of starchy carbs your body requires will vary from person to person. The exact amount depends on your unique body and calorie needs and can be adjusted as needed.

For now, females aim for one rounded handful per meal of starchy carbs and males get two. You get extra credit if it’s after a workout.  

Here is a nice visual to starting thinking about portion size.  


  1. Starchy carbs don’t make you fat.

  2. Starchy carbs contain energy, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

  3. Save your handful of carbohydrates for after your workout. 

  4. Make Smart Carb Choices.

The main goal for eating starchy carbs is to provide energy – calories – to the body, especially if you are more active.  Starchy carbs are also a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  When planning your carb consumption, keep in mind that there are some carbs that are better for you than others.  We are going to split these carbs into a hierarchy of three different levels:  High-Fiber Carbs, Starchy Carbs & Highly Processed Carbs.


Smart Carb Type #1: High-Fiber Carbs

Type 1 Carbs are typically handled well at any meal during the day.  

  • Most Vegetables

  • Most Fruits

  • Legumes: Beans, Lentils, etc.



Smart Carb Type  #2: Starchy Carbs

With Type 2 Carbs you need to be aware of when you are eating them and more strategic.  
For most people, having these after a workout is the best choice. 

  • Sweet/Starchy Fruits:  Bananas, Plantains, Figs, Dates

  • Starchy Tubers: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes

  • Whole Grain Rice: Brown, Wild, White

  • Oats



Not So Smart:  Highly Processed Carbs

Not So Smart Carbs are the carbs to consume on special occasions.  

The point here is NOT to NEVER eat these carbs, but rather to save them for special times.

“Have Some of the Cake rather than all of the cake”

  • Pastries
  • Cookies & Bars

  • Sweets

  • Fruit Drinks

  • Soft Drinks

  • Dried Fruits


How to Make Smart Carb Choices:

Following the hierarchy above will help you to stay on track with your carbs while getting loads of , vitamins, and minerals.
Here are some other ways to make smart carb choices:

  • Replace oatmeal, toast, potatoes, rice and pasta with 1-2 cups of veggies.

  • Limit refined sugary carbs to moderation (remember the “all or nothing” approach rarely works)

  • Save high-carb whole foods – type 2 carbs – for meals after a hard workout.  



  1. Remember to aim for 1 rounded handful of starchy carbs per meal for women, 2 for men

  2. Think about carbs on a hierarchy rather than as good or bad.  Carbs have a place in your diet; it’s important to use them strategically to get the results you want.  

  3. Save the Type 2 Carbs for post-workout and for all other meals stick to Type 1.