By Katie Grubiak, RDN
Hey, I have something to say!
Don’t forget my importance!
Although maligned by Atkins and many others, I’m not really the bad guy.
This is why:
- I contain the falsely feared primary energy source in the diet: carbohydrate. My carbohydrates along with those found in the fruit & milk groups should make up 50-65% of total calories consumed. I supply 4 calories per gram. If you are very physically active I encourage you to use my power and consume me to reach the higher percentage so you have plenty of energy to soar!
- As a carbohydrate, I am the preferred source of energy or fuel for biologic work in humans:
- I contribute to the mechanical work of muscle contraction
- I provide chemical work that synthesizes cellular molecules
- I help transport various substances in the intracellular & extracellular fluids
- I provide fuel for the central nervous system.
- I enable metabolism of dietary fat (the other macronutrient you likely fear).
- I prevent protein (likely the only macronutrient you perceive as safe) from being used for energy thereby allowing protein to be used for what it’s intended –building & repairing body tissue & making antibodies, hormones, and enzymes.
- I become glycogen (stored glucose) for readily-available energy to support physical activity.
- I’m in your favorite meals and come around often frequently since so many foods include me. It’s hard to get rid of me!
- Meals are not the same without me & you know it!
- The foods that contain me provide vitamins/minerals/phytochemicals that you have been taking via a daily multi-vitamin pill. Actually, my nutrients are in food form and are therefore better absorbed & utilized such as: B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin A/E/C, Choline, Inositol, Calcium, Cooper, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc.
- Without me, you may experience strong urges to binge. I help to create satiation. Blood sugar regulation requires all three of us macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, & fat in just the right combination. We help each other out to help you have the most optimal blood sugar & metabolism. We also together prevent the HANGRY feeling!
- Believe it or not, some vegetables also include me even though many think they escape me. Thank goodness I still have a presence in people’s lives even if they don’t acknowledge me.
The average recommended number of daily servings of starch for adults ranges from 9-12 exchanges for a 2000 to 2500 calorie meal plan.
Check out these excellent starch foods. Each serving or one “exchange” of a bread/grain/cereal/starchy vegetable listed equals 15 grams of carbohydrates:
- 1 regular slice of bread (white, pumpernickel, whole wheat, rye)
- ½ English muffin
- ½ hamburger bun
- 1/4 bagel or 1 ounce (can vary)
- ½ pita-6 inches across
- 1/3 cup cooked rice, brown or white
- ½ cup cooked pasta
- ½ cup cooked legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
- ½ cup cooked barley or couscous
- ½ cup cooked bulgur
- 3oz potato, sweet or white
- ½ cup mashed potato
- ½ cup sweet potatoes, plain
- 1 cup winter squash (acorn or butternut )
- ½ cup corn
- 4-6 crackers
- 1 tortilla -6 inches across
- ½ cup cooked cereal
- ¾ cup dry cereal
- 3 cups popcorn
- ¾ ounce pretzels
- 1 plain roll-1oz
Recipes Featuring Starch
Some easy & quick ways to make sure you get enough starch (notice that the other macronutrients -protein & fat- just come around naturally):
Microwavable French Toast
¼ cup milk
1.5 TB syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 slices any bread
1 TB butter
Spread butter on bread and slice into cubes. Put cubes into mug and whisk together wet ingredients and then pour them over the bread and stir to cover bread cubes with liquid. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Top with sliced bananas or berries and it’s a balanced breakfast.
Tuna Pesto English Muffin Open Faced Sandwich
1 whole separated English Muffin
Mayo to taste-I like Trader Joes Mayo with expeller pressed oils
Himalayan pink salt & lemon-pepper to taste
Pesto to taste
Lettuce of choice-2 leaves
Make tuna salad by adding mayo, salt, lemon pepper to taste in bowl.
Toast the separated English muffin to preferred goldenness.
Spread a layer of pesto on each half of toasted muffin.
Add the tuna salad to the English muffin with pesto.
Garnish with a lettuce leaf and sliced tomato.
Katie Grubiak, RD is a Registered Dietitian and Director of Nutrition Services at Eating Disorder Therapy LA. You can read more about her here.
Thank you to Winter Artwork Illustrations for use of the photo.