Eating clean isn’t necessarily “low-carb.” There are plenty of carbohydrates in clean foods: fresh fruit, for instance. Sweet potatoes and yams, obviously. Even a number of vegetables have a significant carb count, like carrots and parsnips. And then there are the HIGH high carb clean eats: dates, for instance, and raisins and other dried fruit. Whole 30 really isn’t “low-carb” at all, it’s eating the right kind of carbs: those that are unrefined, unprocessed, and delivered with the natural fiber that helps keep our blood sugar from spiking off the chart.
But there’s another myth about carbs: that we need carbs for our high-energy output performance. As a distance runner, this was a mindset I had for years. I religiously ate huge plates of pasta the night before a race and sucked on Gu packs and chewed Shot Blocks (and even Gummy Bears) while I ran.
It turns out, however, that 1) we can get the carbs we need from non-grains and non-refined sugars, and 2) doing so can actually improve our performance. My evidence for this claim is based primarily on the work of Nell Stephenson, an endurance athlete and coach who completed the Kona Ironman in 10:17 while eating completely paleo. She’s also got a 3:01 marathon, again achieved without the benefit of a single bagel!