Here’s the truth, guys…
A group of scientists joined forces with the FDA to form the super group, ” Leaders of the Carbohydrate Inquisition,” a group dedicated to proselytizing about a diabolical molecule that will drive us towards morbid obesity, depress our metabolisms, lead us to develop diabetes and other diseases, and generally turn us into hungry, horrible zombie people.
I’m kind of kidding, but not completely. Lately it seems like scientists and medical talking heads have done their best to malign carbs. Generally their efforts are working; ask around and most people will say, ‘I don’t know much, but I know bread is evil and carbs are bad!’
The carbohydrate is probably the most misunderstood, and feared macro-nutrient. Thanks to bogus diet plans and suggestions out there, many people equate eating carbs with gaining weight. Although eating too many carbs can, indeed, lead to weight gain (just like eating too much protein or fat can), carbs are hardly the enemy.
Worshiping at the No-Carb Altar?
So, you heard that going carb-less will help you lose weight, and you’re correct; you’re going to lose a TON of weight very fast; sometimes as much as 20lb in 4weeks.
Sound great? Now for the disadvantages;
Impossible to Maintain
Restricting carbs always sets you up for cravings which results in diet failure. Let me reiterate; Swearing off carbs is not a long term solution and trying to make it one will always lead to regression of weight/fat gain.
You Look Like You’re Melting and You Probably Need a Nap
Carbs are the body’s ideal energy source. Without them, energy levels, mood physical and mental performance will drop dramatically.
While it’s possible to lose 5 pounds a week on a low/no carbs regimen, 20 percent of what’s lost will be fat while 80 percent will be muscle and water weight. Since your energy will be on the decline, you’ll move less and will, as a result, lose muscle mass. Lost muscle mass and quickly declining weight will lead to you weighing less but looking…deflated.
At this point, it’s true; most folks are smaller. But they are also crankier, sleepier, lethargic, and are starting to realize that the price of this quick fix is entirely too high. They revert to old ways and thus the weight returns.
To Know a Carb is to Love a Carb; (Choose your Own Adventure)
Yes; you should eat a carb. No, it should not be a cronut. All carbs are not the same.
Let me explain; you wake up one morning and are running late for work but you’re ravenous. You run past the kitchen and find two options; a banana and a cinnamon roll. You figure you don’t want to have to carry the banana peel on the train so the cinnamon roll makes the most sense. You grab it and run, scarfing it down as you catch the train. You arrive to work feeling full of energy (maybe even too much of it) and ready to go. Except…around 10-ish you feel tired and hungry, suddenly and urgently. Frantic for more energy and food, you wander into the break room to forage for something quick. You luck into some donuts.
You eat one and feel great for about an hour. But suddenly you’re ravenous and sleepy again and the cycle continues; sudden low energy and hunger, quick fixes, frantic poor choices and ultimately, weight gain.
Let’s rewind back to your early morning breakfast choice; this time, you remembered there’s a trash can in the train station and so, chose the banana. Though not as flashy as the cinnamon roll, that banana keeps you satisfied. In 2-3 hours, you start to notice that you’re beginning to feel a little hungry, but it’s not urgent. Your body is not demanding food in ALL CAPS RIGHT NOW and you have both time and energy to make a good food choice.
So, the banana and the cinnamon roll are both carbs; why does the body respond to them so differently? You’ve probably heard the terms “simple” and “complex” carbs before and wondered what they meant. You might have also heard of the glycemic index and wondered what it was all about too.
It’s actually pretty simple. The glycemic index (GI) is a numeric system that ranks how quickly carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body. Carbs are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100 depending how they affect blood sugar levels once eaten. A GI rating of 55 and under is considered low GI, 56 to 69 is medium, and 70 and above is high on the index. A simple carb is high on the GI and converts very quickly, such as table sugar, honey, and watermelon (or cinnamon rolls), while a complex carb is low on the GI and converts slowly, for example broccoli, apple, and whole-grain bread, or you guessed it, your trusty banana.
Essentially, simple carbs are a quick and dirty fix; they feed the body lots of energy super quickly and leave it depleted just as fast. Complex carbs are in for the long haul; they ration energy and deliver it to the body in measured dosages.
So, basically, carbs are great…except when they are not. Confused? Don’t be—here are a few tips to help you make great carb choices.
Be Carb Smart
- Losing weight and gaining lean muscle requires carbs. When you finish a workout, enjoy a “the post-workout meal.” Your body is in a highly anabolic state, and it will absorb glucose, glycogen, and amino acids at a higher rate than normal. So, eat immediately after training (within 30 – 60 minutes of finishing) and eat a substantial amount of well-balanced carbs.
- Create a mixture between simple carbs and complex carbs in each meal.
- Remove refined sugar, white bread, white pasta and all processed foods from food choices.
- Calculate carbs to be 58% of total caloric intake
- When you deem your body ready for it, alternate between high carb intake days (more than 58 percent of total caloric intake) and low carb intake days (below 58 percent).
- Be mindful of portion sizing; remember, size matters! Generally rice and pasta should be about the size of half a tennis ball, cereal and starchy veggies, the equivalent of your cupped hands.
Now, grab that spoon of (brown) rice, put it on your plate and think “It’s okay; I can eat this. ”
* walks out of the bread aisle towards the gym *