Guidelines for a Great High-Carb Meal

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As part of your Low-Carb meal plan (post-Jumpstart), you may add one high-carb meal per week. This higher-carb meal can help you to stay on track with your goals, satisfy any cravings, and actually may help boost your metabolism.

But how do you make the most of your high-carb meal without going overboard? In this article we’ll discover the different types of carbohydrates, and how to plan for (and enjoy) a high-carb meal without slowing your progress or feeling like you “cheated” on your meal plan. Read on to see your high-carb meal guidelines!

High-Carb Meal Guidelines

Do not exceed 1600 total daily calories for women, or 1800 for men.

Your high-carb meal should contain no more than HALF your total daily calorie limit.

—600-700 calories for women

—750-800 calories for men.

Your high-carb meal is not designed to be a high-carb day!

Your plan accounts for one high-carb meal per week.

Avoid candy, refined desserts, or highly-processed foods.

Stick to the Approved Foods where possible.

If you have a consistent craving, enjoy it sensibly so you can move on satisfied.

If you don’t feel like you need a high-carb meal, you don’t need to eat one.

You don’t need to feel guilty about your high-carb meal. Stay within reasonable limits and enjoy, allowing your mind to refocus after.

If you do feel like you overdid it, don’t panic! One meal won’t make or break your progress. Simply return to the plan and stay focused on your goals.

Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients used by your body for energy. The most common types of carbohydrates you’ll find are sugars, starches, and fiber.

Carbohydrates are generally easy for your body to break down, and convert to energy in the form of glucose, a simple sugar.

Wherever possible, it is better to choose complex carbs over simple carbs when planning your high-carb meal.

READ: Why Don't I See Grains on the Approved Foods List?

Simple Carbs

These are basically sugars, and you’ll find them in fruits (fructose) and vegetables, but also in refined and processed foods. Examples include:

  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • White bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Soda

Because they are already in a simple form, your body is able to burn them up fast. While this can be helpful if you’re an endurance athlete or extremely active, for many it leaves them with a “spike” in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash. Over time, this can lead to weight gain as your body stores these sugars in the form of body fat.

Complex Carbs

These carbohydrates are made from long (or complex) chains of sugars. Because of their complex form, your body breaks them down more slowly, meaning you feel full longer, overeat less, and benefit from natural fiber at the same time. Examples include whole foods, like

  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Vegetables
  • Berries and fiber-rich fruits
  • Starchy staples, like potatoes or sweet potatoes

Imagine your metabolism as a furnace, or a campfire. Simple carbs are burned like dry tinder—hot and fast, maybe even with a “flash.” Complex carbs are the larger logs—burning slowly, deeply, and providing the lasting fuel for a sustained burn.

High-Carb Meal Ideas

Try sticking to recipes you know are healthy, and add some extra carbs to them—some brown rice with your chicken or fish, for example. Check out our recipe library for some ideas to get you started.

To learn more about your meal plan, check out the rest of our System Resources here.

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