Carbohydrates get kind of a bad rap. Bring them up to a friend walking out of a workout class, and you may hear something like “OMG don’t touch them!” or “If you’re going to eat them, you’ll have to come back here ASAP.” Which is why when I recently read in US Weekly that The Bachelorette’s Ali Fedotowsky eats a bowl of angel hair for breakfast every morning for “energy all day,” I nearly spit out my coffee. Disclaimer: I think Ali is fab. But really—how many of us wake up at 6 a.m. and thinks to ourselves gee, I could go for a bowl of pasta right about now?
Fact is, she does look pretty rad. And even though they’re a tad taboo, carbs are an important source of energy for your body. When you chow down on something carby, the carbohydrates are turned into glucose, and that glucose is the energy that you need to function.
As someone who lost 31.75 kilograms during college by learning how to eat smarter portions and better foods, carbs have always been on my not-so-good list. Bagels have been something I've almost sworn off of. Donuts? Croissants? Nope, never. But still, if Ali could do it and look like that, then maybe I could try to eat some carbs, too.
So, I made a decision: I would try to eat carbs every single morning for a week to see how it made me feel. I wondered: Would saying yes to these "bad" foods actually be good for me? Would I feel like I had abundant energy? Would I gain weight? Would I drop weight? I was game to find out.
DAY ONE: OATMEAL
I usually won’t eat anything before I work out in the mornings, but I decided to start off my carbtastic week with something that screams fuel. Oatmeal topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a teaspoon of sugar-free raspberry jam tastes like a toasted pb&j sandwich.
I recently started training as a spin instructor, and immediately left for the studio post-oatmeal scarfing. I felt full as I saddled up to the bike and worked on cueing riders through their workout. To be honest, I wasn't feeling that energetic. I felt more normal come noon-time.
DAY TWO: DOUGHNUT
Okay. It needs to be noted that I never consume doughnuts. And by never, I mean like, maybe once every other month on a splurge weekend afternoon when a friend and I discover some trendy new donut spot that is perfectly Instagrammable. But, Day Two also happened to be my birthday, which also happened to fall on National Doughnut Day, so I made an exception. After choosing the head-sized chocolate frosted option from the case, I split it with my boyfriend and was pretty much in heaven. Did I mention it was massive? Half of it was enough to hold me over for hours.
Throughout the rest of the day, which included a Spin class at night, I felt energized and super content. Granted, that's what birthdays will do to you.
DAY THREE: AVOCADO TOAST
I started my day with an early morning hot yoga class; a detox that felt highly necessary after a few too many birthday cocktails the night before. Since I left for the class from my apartment at 6:05 a.m., breakfast was the first thing on my mind immediately after. Today’s eats: avocado toast from Le Pain Quotidien.
You know how some people say “I forgot to eat lunch” sometimes? I’m never that person. Hell, nine times out of 10, I’m thinking about food or plotting my next meal instead of focusing on work I need to get done. This day, I almost forgot to eat lunch, until I stared at the clock, saw 2 p.m., and realised it was about time to check that box. Avocado toast, you were a win.
DAY FOUR: BIRTHDAY CAKE CROISSANT
I feel like kind of a jerk admitting the ingestion of a birthday cake croissant, but it was carby, and it felt right. Day Four’s breakfast was a gift that someone gave me two days previously on my birthday. I chowed down on this beauty and then went for a run. Later in the day, I spent a few hours walking around shopping, and felt pretty alert from my last mile until I hit the pillow. Generally, I'd be surprised that something on the smaller side like this would keep me full for the better part of the morning, but I didn't question it.
DAY FIVE: SWEET POTATO TOAST
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a challenge. I get to write about some pretty cool things, but when I was challenged to make sweet potato toasts (for research purposes) for an article, I learned a whole new way to incorporate carbohydrates without necessarily breaking out the bread. I went in on an almond butter-covered sweet potato slice and it was oh-so-tasty.
I felt more productive than usual this day, cranking through a slew of assignments at the office. I was so productive, in fact, that I was able to make it to a 6 p.m. hot yoga class.
DAY SIX: EGGS WITH VEGETABLES AND TOAST
Disclaimer: I ate the toast I included in this breakfast before I sat down and snapped this photo—blame it on to-do list brain. Out of all of the days I ate carbs, including the ones that involved a lot more carbs than this particular breakfast, I felt the best here. Not weighed down, efficient, and ready for lunch at a normal time.
DAY SEVEN: SMOOTHIE
I was in a rush between Spin and a morning meeting, and had to get something that was truly grab-and-go. This smoothie was the solution, and a higher-carb option (so much fruit!) than what I would usually go for at the Swerve smoothie bar. It was filling and sweet and tasty (and also packed with protein). I was much happier to sip on this than I was to grab some sort of bagel from a coffee shop.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While I wasn’t eating pasta every morning, I was consuming a helluva lot more carbohydrates than my usual low-carb post-workout beverage that “holds me over” (read: makes me daydream about eats) until lunch. For me, that made me feel fuller earlier on, something that I didn't necessarily enjoy. On the mornings I ate breakfast pre-workout, I felt weighed down instead of totally energized. So it's not something I'd choose to do regularly.
My biggest lesson from all of this, though? I need to make more of a concerted effort to plan my morning meals intelligently, especially if I’m going to be working out and trying to plow through meetings and assignments throughout the day. The sugar-y carbs I opted for (read: donuts and croissants) aren’t the kind that are going to give me an energy boost.
Although the extra carbs didn't seem to make me gain weight, I notably felt the best on Day Six when my breakfast was a steady balance of protein and carbohydrates. For me and my body, that's what feels right. For Ali, pasta feels right. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with any of it, as long as you find what feels best for you.
This article originally appeared on Womenshealthmag.com.