What are Complex Carbs and Lean Protein?

When it comes to helping my challengers figure out a meal plan I go off of what has worked for me and my other challengers. Eating 5-6 meals a day where I usually pair complex carbs and lean protein at each meal is what helped me reached my weight goal. You need both of these things for nutrients, and energy. People who are new to clean eating usually have no idea what complex carbs are, or what is considered a lean protein. 

Technically speaking complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugars that are linked together in a chain form. These sugars are mostly rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Because of their complexity they take a little longer to digest, and do not raise the sugar levels in the blood as quickly as simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs act as the bodies fuel, and contribute significantly to the energy production in your body. Complex carbs are high in fiber and improve digestion. These type of carbs are typically found in fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains. Here are examples of what I use for my complex carbs:

  • Green veggies (Broccoli,spinach, brussel sprouts, green beans, kale, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, asparagus etc.)
  • Sweet potato, Yams
  • Fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, bananas)
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole grain breads
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Dry Beans
When it comes to my complex carbs I tend to stay away from the starchy things such as brown rice and bread, and go with the green veggies. Don't get me wrong the rice and bread are good, just not all the time.

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So the actual definition of lean protein according to the USDA is lean meat having less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5-ounce portion. Lean protein is primarily found in meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, but is also found in dairy and to some degree in vegetable and grain sources. Some examples of lean protein are:

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  • Chicken (white meat, skinless)
  • Turkey (white meat)
  • Fish (fresh Cod, salmon, tilapia)
  • Certain cuts of red meat (sirloin, flank steak, lean ground beef)
  • Bison
  • Low fat dairy (non-fat Greek yogurt)
  • Quinoa
  • Beans 
  • Legumes
  • All natural nut butter
  • Oatmeal (not instant)
  • Egg whites
  • Eggs
  • Hummus 
  • Canned Tuna
  • Chickpeas
  • Almond Milk, Rice Milk,
  • Tofu
  • Raw nuts (unsalted)
  • Tempeh
  • Chia, Hemp seeds

Breakfast: Old fashioned rolled oats with blueberries
Snack #1: Celery with Hummus
Lunch: Garden salad with a grilled chicken breast
Snack #2: Egg whites and veggies
Dinner: Baked cod with sweet potato, quinoa. 

I also found this image while searching online and found it very helpful.

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