Monday, September 29, 2014

Change your mind about carbohydrates!

I hear in different conversations that carbs/carbohydrates are bad for us and and pack on the pounds.

Guess what..... Not true!

While I don't know absolutely everything (no one does) what I do know is carbohydrates aren't bad for us. There are diets out there that seem to have some variation on eating fewer carbs or low/no carbs.

First I would like to say that not all carbohydrates are the same. Our body reacts differently to simple carbs vs. complex carbs.

For example if I were to eat a cookie that was 120 calories vs. 120 calories worth of brown rice or 120 calories of apple slices my body would react differently to the cookie vs. the brown rice or apple.

Complex Carbohydrates:

Apple = Aprox 4.5 grams fiber, natural sugars (fructose), Potassium,  Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sodium, Zinc, B1, B6, B1, E, C, A

Brown Rice = 1.8 grams fiber, 2.32 grams protein, Calcium, iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, B6,


Simple Carbohydrates:

Cookies typically contain = very little if any fiber,  white flour, sugar and butter or hydrogenated oils/fats


If I were to eat brown rice or an apple I would be satiated as these foods have fiber in them and or protein. Fiber and protein helps me feel full and slows down the emptying of my stomach. This leads to me feeling fuller longer and helps with stabilizing blood sugar vs. giving my body a sugar high and then a crash. If I were to eat a cookie that was 120 calories I would still be hungry which would lead to a few more cookies and a lot more fat, sugar and calories to only be hungry again a short time later after the sugar crash.

An excess amount of calories = weight gain.

I've found through my many years of experience with weight loss and weight gain that whole foods work!  Whole foods keep me satiated and fuller longer than simple carbs like: white bread, muffins, white rice, cookies.... (all the things I love!)


What are carbohydrates good for?

1. Carbohydrates are an energy source for our body. Carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen and in our cells as glucose. Any excess glucose in our body is stored as fat (importance of watching our calorie intake). Glycogen/glucose is what powers our muscles during activity both anaerobically (jumping) and aerobically (long slow distance).

2. Protein sparer. Carbohydrates preserve our muscle tissue protiens. The job of protein is to help maintain muscle tissue, repair and grow. If there aren't enough carbohydrates muscle tissue and fat is used for fuel through glyconeogenesis (the breakdown of protein and fat to be converted to glucose).

Glyconeogenesis occurs under these conditions:
a. Dietary Restriction - consuming little or no carbohydrates - not enough calories.
b. Prolonged Exercise - glycogen/glucose stores are depleted during the activity without any additional fuel.
c. Intense training - repeatedly.

3. Metablolic Primer. Carbohydrates serve as a primer for fat to be used as energy. The byproducts of carbohydrate breaking down is what serves as a primer to burn fat for energy. The body can not have a sustained high level of activity (aerobic) from fat only (less intense of a workout = fewer calories burned). The body needs carbohydrates.

4. Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord). Our brain relies on carbohydrates exclusively to function. The brain gets the carbohydrates in the form of blood glucose. The brain doesn't have the capability of creating a storage of glucose to be used later (like our muscles do). During intense exercise our muscles use what glycogen and blood glucose is available. Blood glucose eventually decreases below normal and the body can have mild symptoms of hypoglycemia (weakness, hunger, dizziness). Exercise performance decreases and fatigue sets in.

Summary
Are carbohydrates bad? No!

There are valuable micro and macro nutrients that we could be missing if we avoid foods that contain carbohydrates.

Eat whole foods and you will be eating complex carbohydrates = fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, glycogen and glucose for your brain and muscles. Stay away from as much processed food as you can.

Weight Loss = our bodies using up more calories than we consume.

Cheers!



Sources:

Essentials of Exercise Physiology - fourth edition - Victor Katch, William McArdle, Frank Katch
Pg 36 -38

USDA




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