Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good Carbs Bad Carbs


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What exactly are carbohydrates? There are many kinds, but when I say "carbs" I am referring to starchy carbs, things such as:

Beans, oats, brown rice, barley, black eyed peas, corn, corn tortillas, cream of wheat/rye/rice, kashi, lentils, peas, potatoes, yams, quinoa, rice cakes.

These are all good for you and they are the "carbs" that need to be weighed or measured. You should have one serving of these at every meal (except your last meal if you eat just before bed). Although when I am intentionally eating to gain weight, I will eat carbs at my last meal. In fact, I will increase all of my starchy carbs at each meal by 2 ounces and that does the trick! So you can see why you do not want to over eat carbs if you are trying to loose weight.

Vegetables and fruits are also "carbs" but they are not starchy carbs, they are packed with nutrients and fiber and have very little calories. You can eat these with abandon, eat as much as you like. So nutritionists do not generally refer to fruits and vegetables as "carbs", they will refer to them as "fruits" and "vegetables".

Two caveats:

Fruit is high in sugar, so if you are attempting to really lower body fat, these should be limited to a couple servings a day, and pre-competition, eliminated all together.

Some vegetables are classified as "starchy" carbs, you may have noticed them in the list above. Peas and corn. If you are eating these two, they count as your starch, not your vegetable so weigh or measure them.

All of the above complex carbohydrates (good carbs) are high fiber foods, which improve your digestion, they help stabilize the blood sugar, keep your energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied longer after your meal.

A mistake I see occur quite frequently is someone thinks they are eating healthy, so they load up their plate with a big plain baked potato and an ear of corn...no, no, no! You can only choose one of those as they are both "carbs", you need a vegetable in place of one.

Now we have the simple (bad) carbohydrates, the ones that you need to limit or avoid all together. Which you chose depends on your goals. If you are competing, you won't eat anything on the list below for a few months before your competition. If you are not, then some of this is OK, in moderation.

Pasta, refined breads , crackers, cereals, chips, candy, anything made with flour, flour tortillas, fruit juice, sugar, corn syrup, any packaged food. Sugar and other simple carbohydrates can alter your mood, lead to cravings and compulsive eating, cause wide swings in your blood-sugar levels, and cause weight gain in most people. These foods also tend to be very high in calories.

I eat 6 times a day. My first meal is a shake (with 20 grams of carbs) and my last meal is egg whites and spinach, so "technically" it has no carbs.

The other 4 meals all contain one of the above starchy carbs. I eat a great deal of brown rice, quinoa, yams and beans at lunches and dinner. Breakfast usually contains oats or cream of rice.

I eat bread on occasion, but it is usually one of those dense, really dark, heavy rye or spelt breads and I toast it and put low sugar jam and/or peanut butter on it.

Remember the good carbs are the "fuel" that keeps you going, keeps your brain functioning, your muscles round and full looking. These are also the really tasty ones, like the big baked potato, so it is easy to over eat- hence the need to weigh them.

Remember, packaged food is the enemy! The more that a food has been altered from its natural state, the less nutrients it has and just becomes a lot of useless calories.

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