Are carbs bad? Do carbs make you fat? How many carbs per day? What has carbs? and… what carbs to avoid?
Just to be clear- by carbs diet, I mean the carbohydrates found in foods like rice, corn, fruit, pasta, pizza, ice cream, you name it. You know, the delicious stuff. Unfortunately it seems that over time, carbs had gotten a bad rap, then came back from being vilified, then certain marketers convinced everyone that they’re bad again.
So what’s the real truth about carb consumption in regards to losing weight? Well, you have to realize that carbohydrates are what give you energy to do the things you’d like to do. Everything you do from playing sports, exercising, walking down the street to the bus stop… even sitting here reading this article and thinking- to do it, your body uses carbohydrates as fuel.
The problem is when you over-fuel, or you simply eat and drink too many carbs each day– and over the course of time, those carb calories spill over into your fat stores- like exactly where you DON’T want to store them. The belly, sides of the lower back, butt, legs, back of arms.
Well, it’s actually not THAT simple. Essentially there’s a process in the body whereby once you take in more carbs than your body needs right now, your body has processes to tun that excess carbohydrate into body fat- hence it gets stored where you don’t want it to. It doesn’t mean that carbs themselves are bad. It means that excess carb intake is bad. Normal carb diet intake is very beneficial, because it will allow you to do all those things like move around and think.
Also, different carbs have different values to the body and bring with them different pro’s and con’s.
Like for instance, nutritional value and glycemic index issues. Case in point- carbs in banana, watermelon, avocado, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries- natural and unprocessed foods will have a beneficial effect in that that will provide vital vitamins and nutrients to your working body. They also provide a nice amount of fiber, which helps to balance out the sugar that is contained in the food, and slows down your glycemic response.
Now lets switch gears over to the stuff that is tasty- but harmful. Carbs like in beer, wine, and vodka (alcohol carbs), and stuff like pancakes, pasta, bagels, pastries. These things are processed junk foods. They of course are delicious and very easy to eat, which means one thing- you’re more likely to eat a ton of them when you shouldn’t. The other issue is that they don’t contain much as far as nutritional value, since they’re processed. So, no vitamins and minerals, and no fiber. Or, if there is, it’s in there in small amounts.
The fiber is one of the most important things to get in your diet, by the way. Fiber is natural broom, meaning it helps unclog the bowels for good movements. Fiber also is great for keeping your blood sugar stable, which in turn decreases your appetite. And what happens when you’re not ravenous to eat? Well, of course you will eat less total food. And when you eat less total food and less carbs? You lose weight. Genius stuff here, huh?
Carbs at night are another hot topic these days.
It used to be thought that carbs before goign to bed would only add to wait gain. Well, as I always say- it’s not the carbs that cause the weight gain. It’s the over consumption of the carbs that makes you fat. So, don’t worry about having a small carbohydrate snack before going to bed. One of the cool effects of having some carbs before bed is that it tends to release a bit serotonin in your body, which calms the mind and body and prepares you for a great sleep. And to add to that- did you know that if you have a great sleep, you are actually less hungry during the day, which will turn lead to less cravings for sugary foods?
Pretty cool right? So there’s really no black and white answer to this. You really need to figure out how to eat some carbs, but not overdo it.
Eating carbs before, during, or after a workout is another hop topic these days. When can I eat carbs? Well, the absolute best time to eat carbs- if you’re going to indulge a bit- is right before a grueling workout. Why is this the best time to eat carbs? Because carbs are the bodies first line of fuel for tough exercise. They’ll be burned first, so it’ll almost be like you didn’t eat them in the first place. Isn’t that pretty awesome? It is for most people, but not everyone. Here’s why- some people tend to get even hungrier from it, or they will lose steam during the workout because they actually burn them off so fast that your body is searching for fuel.
So, what would be the thing to do? Well, you can stagger your carb intake.
What I mean by this is you’d have a bit of carbs before the workout, and then mix up some light carb solution to drink about halfway into the workout. This way you are fueled up throughout and don’t hit the wall. There’s no worse feeling that when you run out of fuel- in a car- or in your body.
The next best time to eat carbs is right after your workout, along with some quality proteins. Why? Because eating carbs after a weight training workout- along with some whey, gives you the amino acids and insulin spike your body needs to quickly recuperate. When you recuperate quickly, you can workout again sooner than later. Over the course of a year if you take two people, and one exercises 75 times a year and the other exercises 175 days a year, which one do you think is going to have the better body? I’d go with the 175 workouts per year any day. Just don’t over do it on those carbs!
What’s the difference between carbs and sugar?
Well, nothing really because carbs are sugar and sugar is carbs. they’re both fuel and structurally the same thing. Different foods provide it in different ways. For example, quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, banana’s, asparagus, broccoli, beets, beans will give you long lasting energy for the day ahead- and whatever activities you plan on doing.
Bread, pasta, pizza, etc are all tasty foods but they’ll let you down quickly. far too many people worry about water retention from eating carbs. The thing is- they’re worried about a false thought. A gram of carbs holds 4 grams of water in the body. This is NOT body fat. This is simply water, so sometimes people will get the feeling- or see themselves in the mirror as fat, but it’s actually just water, which after a few hours will pass right out of you anyway. Don’t worry about that.
If you’re eating a good amount of protein with your carbs, you also want to know that you’ll need to drink a lot of water to not get stopped up- so you can go freely. Also, you need water so that your joints feel good, and you don’t get dehydrated. Eating water-rich fruits and vegetables are a great way to get water too, things like celery have natural water in them, which means you don’t have to guzzle from the tap all day and night.
Carbs are good too for relieving stress. You’ve heard of cortisol- the stress hormone, right? Well, the mechanisms in your body use carbs to increase insulin, which in turn lowers your cortisol. Cortisol is released when physical and mental stress creeps in. Like the loss of a job, or death of a family member. This is what causes stress- eating. Some people crave and eat more carbs and food when stressed, other stop eating completely. neither is a good choice- and remember it’s all choices. Good decisions and bad decisions shape your destiny- and waistline.
Diabetes is another thing you need to looks out for. This disease is a bit out of my scope, but suffice it to say, you’ll want to keep moderate or lower carbs on your diet so you can hopefully avoid getting any issues like this. One of the cool things I’ve recently found out about is resistant starches, which are carbs that are indigestible to your body. Reminds me of the saying- if a tree falls in the forest, did it make a noise? Well, if a carbs isn’t digested, is it still a carb?
Well, the experts can fight over that all they want. What I do know is that if the carb isn’t digested, it doesn’t count towards your calories for the day, and therefore is not going to make you fat. Another really cool trick is that the critters in your belly CAN eat the resistant starch- and they turn it into good stuff in your digestive system, which in turn helps you. The new stuff ends up eating the sugar for you- before you digest it! Pretty neat.
So are we done with the question of if carbs are bad for you? Are carbs the enemy?
Hopefully I’m clearing this up, but, I know you have a hunger for more info, and that’s what I’m here for. What about carbs after cardio? Well, depends on what the intensity of your cardio was. If you really went all-out and burned a ton of calories, it’s ok to have a nice helping of carbohydrates with your protein, but don’t overdo it. The body doesn’t have the same demands after cardio as it does after weight training. The resistance tears at the muscle fibers and the protein and carb mix help heal and regenerate. Cardio doesn’t really break down the muscles too much, so it’s better to go easy on the post- meal entertainment.
I know some guys that used to run an iron man or marathon and then dip into some pizza and Bud Light. Nothing wrong with that- because you’ve earned your carbs. If you haven’t earned them, don’t eat them. Another woman asked me the other day if there were carbs in bacon because she’d heard they make you fat. Well, I got news for you. It’s the fat and high calorie content of bacon that’s making you fat. There’s no carbs in bacon. Unfortunately, one of my favorite foods is cereal- but more specifically, apple jacks. Delicious. But, they’re laden with sugar. I could eat apple jacks and bacon till the cows come home.
What’s the difference between brown rice and white rice? Well, there’s the germ- which is the outer hull on brown rice. Still plenty of carbs in it, but covered up by the shell. The benefit is your body takes longer to fight through the shell and digest it, but there’s some nutritional questions about whether that shell stops other nutrients from being absorbed.