For those who eat anything they want, getting enough carbs is ridiculously easy – bread and pastas have carbs in abundance. Grains are an excellent source of carbohydrates in the same way that meat is generally a phenomenal source of protein. But grains are not allowed on Paleo.
Since a lack of carbohydrates can leave you without the energy to perform at your full potential, it’s important to know where to look for a healthy amount. Paleo people must get their carbs from fruits, veggies, and meats. To make it more challenging, potatoes, beans, and legumes are banned on Paleo as well for various reasons. With all of this in mind, let’s explore how and why it’s vital to get a sufficient amount of carbs on the Paleo diet.
Wait…Did you say “Not enough Carbs?”
It’s okay if you had to double-check the title – Since almost every diet focuses on low-carbs, it may seem odd to worry about getting enough of them. But on the Paleo diet where bread of any kind isn’t an option, consuming enough carbs to keep your energy level up is a legit concern. Whether you have to choose foods that are high in carbs or plan ways to eat more frequently, we’re exploring the challenge of getting enough carbs on a low-carb Paleo diet.
The Fuel Our Body Runs On – What Exactly is a Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrates, or carbs as they’re often called, are one of three macronutrients along with fat and protein. Carbs include sugars, starches, and cellulose. Their best-known function is that carbs provide energy that the body can store and use. However, that’s just one of many functions. Here are some of the other functions inherent in carbohydrates:
- Carbs benefit the immune system
- Carbs are crucial in the fertilization process
- Carbs are required for blood clotting
- Carbs aid in growth and proper development
The Problem With Not Getting Enough Carbs
If you’re on Paleo and not getting enough carbs, you’ll notice it. It will hit you when you’re in the middle of something and you feel lightheaded or get an overwhelming headache. Ultimately, it’s a condition to avoid. Here are the common signs that you may need more carbs in your diet:
- Feeling lightheaded as if you might pass out
- When the body burns fat & protein for fuel, it causes bad breath
- Severe headaches can occur from lack of carbs
- Shivering can be caused by low thyroid function from lack of carbs
- Irregularity can result from lack of carbs and fiber
- If you can’t be satiated (filled up), it’s probably from a lack of carbs
- Insufficient carbs can cause a woozy feeling
- Not getting enough carbs can ruin your mood due to low blood sugar
Carbs for Recovery – Eating after Your Workout
If you workout, then afterward is the optimal time to consume your carbohydrates. A carb-rich post-workout meal will refuel your body with the energy it expended during the workout. Plus, the recovery period is an excellent time to consume nutritious food for the protein, vitamins, and minerals it provides. Remember, it takes a variety of nutrients to build muscle, so eating after your workouts is a smart habit for athletes to adopt.
Does Meat Have Carbohydrates?
The answer is a resounding no. Meat is phenomenal for providing the high protein levels that Paleo people need to accomplish their goals but has little to no carbohydrates. Therein lies the importance of consuming all three macronutrients on a daily basis – without either fats, carbs, or protein, your body, health, and performance suffers. Since meat is an excellent source of protein and fats but no carbs, Paleo people must look to fruits and veggies to get a sufficient amount.
6 Veggies that are Rich in Carbs
Along with nuts, veggies and fruits will be providing all of the carbs you need on the Paleo diet. When choosing plant foods for your pantry, remember that not all veggies are created equal. Some are excellent sources of carbohydrates and others aren’t. Once you know the options that are rich in the nutrients you need, you can ensure that they’re in your pantry so you can avoid the aforementioned symptoms of carb deficiency. Here are the veggies that are rich in carbs:
Few foods are as undeniable a superfood as broccoli. Rich in potassium, fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C, broccoli also has 7 g of carbs per 100g serving. Try broccoli raw as a snack or in salads or cooked in stir fry, soup, or other nutrient-rich recipes.
High-Carb Paleo Recipe with Broccoli: Easy Chicken Broccoli Recipe
Arguably the most portable vegetable for grab and go snacking, there are a lot of good reasons to eat carrots. Known best for their high levels of vitamin A, carrots are also a solid source of carbohydrates with 9.6 grams per 100g serving.
High-Carb Paleo Recipe Featuring Carrots: Paleo Carrot Raisin Muffins
Extremely unique in flavor and composition, the onion is truly a one-of-a-kind vegetable. For every 100g serving of onions, about 9g is carbohydrates, so add them to salads, soups, or use them in your favorite Paleo recipes like the one below:
High-Carb Paleo Recipe Featuring Onions: Sauteed Shrimp with Onions and Cherry Tomatoes
If you’ve been ignoring peas for most of your life, you should know that there’s a lot of excellent reasons to stock up on this tiny green superfood. Not only do peas contain about 14g of carbs per 100g serving, but they’re also one of the most protein-rich vegetables in the world.
High-Carb Paleo Recipe Featuring Peas: Paleo Pea Soup
Sweet Potatoes are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. In addition to B vitamins and fiber, sweet potatoes pack 20g of carbohydrates per 100g serving. Numerous recipes exist for sweet potatoes but they can also be brushed with oil and microwaved for a filling snack.
High-Carb Paleo Recipe Featuring Sweet Potatoes: Paleo Smashed & Loaded Sweet Potato
As a food staple that’s kept humans thriving throughout history, sweet corn may be the most versatile food on the planet. Used for everything from chips to ethanol, sweet corn is also a phenomenal source of carbs with 19g per 100g serving.
High-Carb Paleo Recipe Featuring Sweet Corn: Paleo Corn Dog Muffins
3 High Carb Paleo Recipes
One of the most fun things about the Paleo lifestyle is trying the creative recipes that are recommended by friends or found online. Many of them use loopholes to get around the fact that there’s no bread or dairy, and the results are truly unique. Try these Paleo recipes as a recovery meal or when you need to ensure that you get an ample supply of carbohydrates:
- Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pancetta Hash
- Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie
- Paleo Blueberry and Banana Mini-muffins
Get Enough Carbs and Your Paleo Plan Can Be a Success
While many dieters worry about excessive carbs, those who follow the Paleo lifestyle have the opposite problem. But it’s only a problem if you’re unprepared, and by keeping the most carb-laden veggies in your pantry for when you need them, you can ensure that you never feel the headaches and fatigue associated with carb deficiency. With a little creativity and motivation, the Paleo Diet can be a phenomenal way to help you attain your fitness goals.