ATHLEAN-X Guide to Carbs

are carbs good or bad for you

CARBS – Friend or Foe?

If you’re landing on this page, you’re likely here for one of two reasons.

Maybe you’ve watched one of my YouTube videos about nutrition, and you’re looking for more information on healthy carbohydrates. The other is that you may find that you’re carb obsessed and needing some guidance, either because you think you eat too many… or because you’re afraid of eating even a single piece of fruit!

At ATHLEAN-X we feel that carbohydrates are not a bad thing when eaten as part of a balanced meal plan. Let’s take a look at the difference between two different types of carbohydrates: starchy and fibrous carbs. We’ll look at how your body utilizes them, and how much of each you should be consuming. Then I’ll give you lists of which carbohydrate-containing foods fall into each of these categories so you can make the best nutrition decisions for your own goals.

Starchy CarbOHYDRATEs – Rocket Fuel for Your Body

When you need a fast source of energy, look no further than starchy carbs. These calorie packed macronutrients are primed to help your body power through a workout or any strenuous activity.

This makes this form of carbohydrate great for a pre-workout meal or a quick snack on the go, but be careful with your total carb intake! Like other macronutrients, any excess carbs (and especially refined carbs) that are not are not utilized for short-term energy will quickly and efficiently get stored for long-term energy in the form of… you guessed it… fat and weight gain.

That’s one of the reasons the low carb diets craze has gained so much traction. The other reason is that starchy carbohydrates tend to be the foods we want to over indulge in.

Any excess carbs that are not are not utilized for short-term energy will quickly and efficiently get stored for long-term energy in the form of fat.

Breads, pasta, rice, fruits… all are loaded with fast-digesting carbs that are great as a fuel source but can deal up big damage when overconsumed!

It’s not necessary to avoid starchy carbs in a healthy diet though! If you’re following our effective plate dividing method, you’ll want starchy carb portions to make up about 20% of your plate. For more information on whether and how to tweak this quantity based on your training goals, check out the complete X-Factor Meal Plan guide that accompanies our ATHLEAN-X Training programs.

fibrous and starchy carbs, lists of carbohydrates

Fibrous Carbohydrates – Slow Your Roll, Speed Up Your Gains

Like their cousins the starchy carbs, fibrous carbs can be great concentrated sources of energy. The main difference is that fibrous carbs tend to be higher in dietary fiber. That extra dietary fiber makes them slower to digest so you get a great feeling of satiety, not to mention being great for digestive health! They’re also less likely to get converted to fat and cause weight gain because of their higher indigestible insoluble fiber content which can’t release excess energy as readily as starchy and refined carbohydrates.

Fibrous carbs are less likely to get converted to fat because of their larger amounts of indigestible insoluble fiber which can’t release excess energy as readily as starchy and refined carbohydrates.

Additionally, fibrous carbs like fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense foods likely to be higher in vitamins and minerals than starchy carbs which has the additional benefit of helping you meet your micronutrient goals. For those reasons, fibrous carbohydrates can occupy more space on your plate – half your plate or more if you like!

Here are some foods that fit into the starchy carbs and the fibrous carbs categories.

Starchy Carbs

  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Whole Wheat Waffle
  • Whole Wheat Bread Stix
  • Pretzels
  • Banana
  • Brown Rice
  • Cous Cous
  • Applesauce
  • Baked Sweet Potato
  • Red Bliss Potatoes
  • Pasta Salad
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Acorn Squash
  • Cereal
  • Peas
  • Fat Free Granola Bar
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Whole Wheat Wrap
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Saltines
  • Baked Potato
  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Ziti
  • Whole Wheat Pita
  • Butternut Squash
  • Linguine
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Whole Wheat English Muffin
  • Spaghetti
  • Long Grain Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Turnips
  • Basmati Rice
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Whole Wheat Bread

Fibrous Carbs

  • Fresh Apple
  • Blueberries
  • Frozen Blueberries
  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Frozen Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Red Bell Pepper Slices
  • Celery Slices
  • Lettuce Varieties
  • Edamame
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh Grapes
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Grilled Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Wilted Spinach
  • Squash
  • Navy Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Grilled Eggplant
  • Onions
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Green Salad Cucumbers
  • Broccoli Rabe
  • Peach
  • Zucchini
  • Pear
  • Nectarine
  • Plum
  • Banana
  • Dried Apricots
  • Mango
  • Sliced Mixed Berries
  • Steamed Cabbage
  • Sliced Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Kidney Beans
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Pomegranate
  • Craisins
  • Radishes
  • Fennel
  • Papaya
  • Chili Peppers
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Scallions
  • Shaved Ginger
  • Pickles