"Dancing With the Stars" judge Julianne Hough isn’t afraid of a mid-air flip, but—more impressively, considering how many famous people demonize them—she isn’t afraid of carbs either. In fact, she eats them with every meal. “Everybody is so afraid of carbs—they talk about them in a negative way, like, ‘Carbs make me fat or bloated’—but just pick the right one and have a little bit,” the illustrious dancer told Us Weekly. “I think when you deprive yourself, that’s when you crave pasta and pizza.”
Hough, who’s “ideal meal would be chicken, veggies, and sweet potatoes,” is absolutely correct. According to the Mayo Clinic, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your total calories each day.
Shocked? Don’t be. Hough isn’t filling up on croissants and Lucky Charms—she focuses on non-refined, complete sources of carbohydrates that contain nutrients and, most importantly, fiber. The best naturally occurring carbs including vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, legumes, and seeds.
Your body needs these carbohydrates to perform optimally. Hough, who loves her starchy vegetables, says they “make my brain click on and everything else is able to function. I thought they were my enemy, but they’re actually my best friend.”
Here are a few reasons why healthy, unrefined carbohydrates need to be in your system stat:
- Energy: Unrefined carbs give your body a boost of instant energy. Without them, you’ll feel sluggish and tired. Unrefined carbohydrates are released gradually into your bloodstream, so you won’t experience an energy crash like you do with, say, an espresso shot or a doughnut.
- Metabolism and Weight Loss: The energy you get from carbs provides you with the power to fuel your metabolism. This is also why healthy carbohydrates are so important for weight loss.
- Digestion: Unrefined carbs contain loads of fiber, which is crucial for digestive health.
- Sleep: Carbs in foods like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and bananas are rich in the chemical tryptophan (the reason why turkey makes you feel sleepy), which help you drift off to Dreamland and get a good night’s rest.
- Brain Health: Healthy carbs help improve your focus and concentration as well as encourage a lighter mood. They also “feed” your nervous system, balancing your body to help balance your anxiety.
Still feeling a bit carb-conscious? Andreas Eenfeldt, MD of DietDoctor.com has a general guideline: “Vegetables growing above ground are low carb and can be eaten freely. Vegetables growing below ground contain more carbs, so you’ll have to be more careful with them (especially potatoes),” she writes on the site. Above-ground veggies include cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, asaparagus, and kale. Healthy foods that have more carbs include peas, quinoa, baked beans, corn, and lentils.
This is just another reason (of a million) why consuming plant-based foods is the way to go. The benefits are endless -- including possibly even dancing like Julianne Hough. Okay, well, we know they're super healthy, only time will tell if they're magical, too.
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