The Other 23

3 Great Sources of Quality Carbs

By Mike Roussell, PhD

When it comes to carbs, quality is what matters. Sure, ultra-processed, low-quality carbs (think: Pop Tarts) are easy-access at gas stations during summer road trips. But they lack the antioxidants that can aid your recovery and joint health. Even worse, research shows that we automatically eat more calories per minute when chowing down on ultra-processed carbs instead of their quality counterparts. But what exactly is a quality carb? Try these three options, all of which are road-friendly:

Sweet Potatoes:

These are naturally sweet, and loaded with potassium, beta-carotene, and B- vitamins. Sweet potatoes do not have as much starch as traditional potatoes so they won’t boil well. But roasting a whole sweet potato at 425 degrees for 45 minutes allows its natural sugars to caramelize, enhancing flavor – and a medium-sized sweet potato has just 100 calories. 


Fruits aren’t often considered sources of quality carbs. But a  medium-sized apple delivers 25g of quality carbs, and comfortably fits in any travel pack. The antioxidants in apple skin also improve your insulin sensitivity, and plenty of soluble fiber also slows digestion, keeping you full for longer.


Just a half-cup of oats delivers 30g of quality complex carbs, plus 8g of fiber to keep you full. Oats are also an underrated source of protein, with 6g per half-cup. And few foods travel as well as oats: Pack a half-cup dry, then add a little hot water and a dash of brown sugar when you’re in need of fuel.


AUTHOR BIO: Mike Roussell, PhD

Mike Roussell, PhD, is an author, speaker, and nutrition strategist who has spent more than 20 years transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits that change lives.

His clients have included NBA all-stars, tech execs, and TV personalities.

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