How to eat carbs and feel energized without gaining weight


Michele Chevalley Hedge shares her tips on how to feel pumped with energy for your day while still maintaining a healthy diet.

Coffee high, sugar rush – these days we’re eking out every last bit of energy we can get our hands on. But why are we so deprived? *queue 4pm nap*

Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge, explains that food should be our friend in the fight for energy, but that it’s also important to know which types are our enemy.

“People who love food are my favourite people,” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Fire up your energy (by the end of this ep). “I’d like to bring back the love of food, but it’s how we use food that can be dependent on whether food is our friend or food is our enemy.”

She explains that great nutrition is the proverbial key to unlock a new cache of energy and absolutely slay your to-do list.

“Eating food in the right combination of macronutrients – whole real food – can really boost our energy and fuel every single cell from the mitochondria level to a cellular level to a hydration level, all of those things that we want for our energy,” Chevalley Hedge explains.

“On the other hand, we can be eating foods that are processed, trans fat laden, sugar laden, that are really zapping our energy.”

Makes sense.

So what should we look for?

Chevalley Hedge explains that when we talk about energy we need to look at the nutrient density and the balance of macros.

The nutrient density is all about how many vitamins and minerals the food can provide. However, you should also look to see if it has good quality fat, quality protein and smart carbs.

These macros are going to provide us with the energy to continue smashing our day no matter what it throws at us.

But carbs are scary!

Everyone has convinced us that carbs are the big bad wolf coming to blow down our house of fitness goals, but actually they’re the key to having the energy to get to our workouts in the first place.

“It is those smart carbs that can fuel that energy, mental energy, physical energy, emotional energy,” explains Chevalley Hedge.

“The positive side of good carbs, or what I would refer to as smart carbs, is that they’re full of vitamins, like a synergy of vitamin B’s, which is our energy vitamin. They’re full of magnesium. They’re full of fibre. All of the things that we need to create energy resources and biochemical pathways that lead to energy.”

“The thing that is happening with carbs is that we are often confused about what is a smart carb versus what is a poor quality carb or what I refer to as a twig. I think of this twig like a fast burner. Nothing’s in it. There’s no fuel. It just burns really quickly.”

“And those twigs (or poor quality carbs), they’re often sugar dense…so what’s happening is people are making those poor carb choices and their blood glucose is going up. As high as it is rollercoaster-ing up, it is equally dropping off a cliff on the other side, leaving you feeling exhausted. Fatigue, brain fog. Oh, do I have a hormonal dysfunction? Do I have iron deficiency? These are all of the things that we’re thinking when we’re on these blood sugar roller coasters, right? So choosing the right carbs is the key to this.”

Chevalley Hedge has been there first hand

Having previously worked a high-octane corporate job at Microsoft, this nutritionist knows what it’s like to be stuck on the unhealthy carb rollercoaster.

“I’d gone from gorgeous brain to total grumpy pants laying on my desk at four o’clock in the afternoon, miserable thinking that I had iron deficiency or I was in menopause at 25 when it was none of those things,” she laughs.

“It was because I wasn’t fueling myself properly. If you’ve got that carb phobia and you’re trying to watch your weight, fuel yourself with smart carbs at breakfast and lunch and then perhaps at dinner, just lots of protein, lots of low carb vegetables and good quality fats.”

It’s so straightforward!

Do it for your wellbeing, not for your weight

While weight loss is usually the goal of major diet change and a shift to healthy eating, Chevalley Hedge wants to flip the switch and focus instead on what it means to your lifestyle when you eat and feel well.

“Weight is the number on the scale, which is a measurement of gravity. It is not the measurement of your life force, your vibrancy, your zest, your ability to communicate with your loved ones,” she explains.

“How about this just for a source of good energy and wellbeing: It’s six o’clock at night, and you have enough energy left in your tank from a day with the kids or a day at the office that you show up for your family, that you have the ability to communicate with the people you love. That’s wellbeing.”

Bam. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Michele Chevalley Hedge is a nutritional medicine practitioner, founder of the wellness website A Healthy View and author of Eat Drink & Still Shrink.



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