saint? sinner? simple sugar?

Posted on February 28, 2011. Filed under: Nutrition |

There seems to be a great misunderstanding about carbohydrates, which is normal because it goes through cycles.  Both fat and protein have been demonized at certain points in history.  And depending on who you talk to, they are still evil.  But we can talk about that later.  Let’s keep this simple.
Are Carbs evil?

Why do people (“doctors”, celebrity trainers, etc) say they are?

They are referring to an excess of sugars or types of saccharides that make up carbs.  And it makes it easier to sell books, DVDs, etc.

Think of it this way apples, oranges, oatmeal, broccoli, Haagen Daz, Samuel Adams, all have carbs.  But you don’t have to be dietitian to consider that some of those food sources may be better for you than others.

Are Carbs essential?
Technically no, your body can derive energy from proteins and fats.  It can even convert protein into glucose.  It’s the other nutrients (vitamins, minerals, water) that accompany your so-called carb foods that make them necessary.  Don’t get the wrong idea though, you want to keep the carbs in.  There is a big difference between merely surviving and thriving.  Having done a few natural bodybuilding contests with carb depletion, trust me it’s a huge difference.
What’s the glycemic index?
Well it wasn’t invented by the people on the diet commercials for one.  It is merely a ranking system for rating or comparing the immediate impact of foods on your blood sugar levels.  They rate these foods in comparison to the effect white bread or pure glucose has on your insulin levels, which is how they determine the effect on your blood sugar.  For the most part its helpful but it does have it’s flaws.  On some charts cola has a moderate rating, but I wouldn’t recommend it for improving health.  Biases up front, I don’t recommend any soda but that’s another blog.
What about low carb diets?
Okay so Atkins had a point, processed and refined carbs have to go.
(And for the record it is the official statement that Atkins died from slipping and hitting his head on ice, not a heart attack.)

People should be careful where they get their carb sources from.  Natural forms are always better so veggies, fruits, etc.  These foods are also nutrient dense without being calorie dense allowing for more comfortable weight loss.

For you hard gainers or those trying to gain weight.  Don’t just focus on protein shakes.  At least, keep it in prospective.  Think of it this way, say your 155 pounds.  If you want to gain size you have to be shooting for an intake of around 3200 calories a day.  The rule of thumb for protein is one gram/ per pound so 155g of protein.  1g of protein = 4 calories so that’s only 620 calories from protein.  Where do you think that other 2580 calories is going to come from?  Healthy carbs and fats.

Depending on your chosen activity your ratio of carbs is going to be a bit different.  It can vary anywhere from 45-70% of your caloric intake at different times.
With most of my clients I tend to emphasize a moderate approach, this is important since with most of my clients the goal is fat loss.  They need the immediate energy benefit of the carbs to fuel the body to do the needed work.  They however don’t want to rely too much on carbs so they don’t feel starved.  Protein and fats promote greater feelings of satiety or feeling full.  When one is creating a caloric deficit for fat loss, we try to avoid feeling starved whenever possible.  The occasional hunger pang is fine
There are different methods for addressing this as well, which we can cover in future blogs.  Or if there is something else you’d like to see discussed please feel free to let me know.
Best Health
Coach W

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2 Responses to “saint? sinner? simple sugar?”

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How would you respond to considers over kidney strain or ketosis on high protein diets?

good question. I will comment on that on my next blog. Thanks.


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