If you want to lose weight don’t eat bread, pasta, flour, crackers or any kind of carb! Right? Wrong!! Low carbohydrate diets seem to be all the rage right now (eating like our Palaeolithic ancestors use to eat. The hunters and gatherer’s, eating only meat and vegetables.) The problem is, even scientists and archaeologists don’t know what our ancient ancestors ate. It is known however that humans have consumed grains for over 2.5 million years. It seems absurd to think that humans have had it all wrong all this time!
Do We Need Them?
Carbohydrates are very important to our bodies, providing energy for muscles, fuel for the central nervous system, enabling fat metabolism, and preventing protein from being used as energy.
Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for muscle contraction and biological work in the body. In other words, it’s used for all your daily activities, from walking, exercising, doing housework, and even thinking! Your brain needs approximately 100-125 grams of carbohydrates to function optimally daily. Just to give you an idea, that’s about 2 Cups worth of potatoes or rice! Your muscles store excess carbohydrates that aren’t being used as energy for later use. This is called glycogen stores. It depends on how much muscle you have as to how many carbohydrates you can store. The more muscle you have, the better your carbohydrate storage will be. This is a great reason for building some more muscle on your frame through resistance training! After these glycogen stores are full, only then will excess carbohydrates convert to body fat!
The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be! Metabolism is how many calories your body needs to maintain itself on a daily basis. Your body will first use carbohydrates for energy. If you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will begin to use protein as energy. Your muscles are made primarily of protein, which means you may be burning through your muscle tissue if the protein from your food cannot keep up with the demands. This is a disaster for the metabolism. Cutting carbs out of your diet and being in a calorie deficit may help you lose weight, but it will be the wrong kind of weight. You may end up with less muscle tissue, which will not give that lean and toned look that most of us desire! When you go back to eating normally again, your body will have a lower metabolic rate and you will gain the weight back, probably more rapidly than before!
Glucose is the main source of energy for your brain!! Yes it can run on ketones however without this vital macronutrient, you would feel sluggish and foggy all the time!
Types of Carbohydrates
Some examples of complex carbohydrates are rice, whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, vegetables and some fruits etc. These have a more complex structure and contain starch and fibre. Most North Americans don’t get enough fibre in their diet, which is an important part of good gut health.
These tend to be more refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, syrup, juice, jams etc. These can be very high on the glycemic index. They raise blood sugar very quickly and are not ideal choices in a healthy diet. Watch out for the added sugars (listed below) in processed foods. Fruits, although healthy, do contain simple sugars and therefore should be eaten in limited amounts, 1 – 2 servings per day.
Carbs raise blood sugar. This statement is absolutely true. What most people don’t realize is that protein also raises Insulin to help shuttle the amino acids, yet people are very quick to jump on high protein, low carb diets. The glycemic index shows, on a scale from 0 – 100, how much a food will increase your blood sugar and is an important tool for those who have blood sugar and insulin problems, like diabetes. However, a downside of this list is that the foods are tested on their own. For instance a white potato is a 76 on the index, which is considered high glycemic. However, most people would not eat a plain cooked potato! You’d add butter or sour cream and probably eat it with a serving of meat and a vegetable. Eating proteins and fats with the potato lowers the glycemic index significantly, making it a healthy option. Who wants to eat a plain potato anyway? This is one of the reasons we endorse a balanced macronutrient approach to healthy eating.
So, we hope we’ve convinced you that carbs are not the enemy. It is an essential macronutrient that your body needs for fuel! Use them properly in a well balanced diet and your body and stomach will thank you for it! In our e-book “Finding Balance – 100 Recipes to Fit Your Life” you will find a ton of ways to incorporate healthy carbs into your eating plan. After making some of the recipes and meal ideas, you will soon learn proper portion sizes for a meal. No gimmicks here! Learn how to eat and you will be able to maintain health and your ideal body for your entire life for you and your family!
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Arnold, Carrie. “Even Our Ancestors Never Really Ate the “Paleo Diet””. www.discover magazine.com. Kalmbach Publishing Co, 3/6/13, Web. 11 Dec 2014.
No Author. “Carbohydrate”. www.extension.iastate.edu. No Date. Web. 12 Dec 2014. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/content/carbohydrate
No Author. “Carbohydrates”. www.cdc.gov. 11 Dec 2012. Web. 12 Dec 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html