Sunday, February 17, 2013

Carb Talk: Choosing the Right Type to Support Your Goals

Carbohydrates, or carbs as we like to call them, have gotten a bad rap these past few years. They have been tied to weight gain, causing people to unnecessarily drop carbs completely from their diet. BUT if you choose your carbs wisely, you can still reach your goals without the brain fog.

There are 2 types of carbs, SIMPLE and COMPLEX. Let’s do a little breakdown of each:

SIMPLE carbs

Simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two sugars that the body can easily digest. I will try not to get too deep into the chemical names, but basically sugars like fructose and glucose are examples of simple sugars.  Foods that contain these simple sugars are fruit, molasses, honey, white (enriched) flour, milk, cereals and candy. Because the body digests them so quickly, our bodies want more of it to feel full.  And in addition to that, they increase insulin/blood sugar levels which inhibits fat burning, ultimately resulting in fat storage.  


Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugars that requires more work for the body to digest.  They are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples of complex carbs are vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown/wild rice, yams, and lentils. Because the body takes longer to digest the complex carbs, you feel fuller longer and will burn more calories due to the body having to work harder to burn them off.

Sooooo, which one do you chose? Well, it would seem that complex carbs is the absolute way to go, but it doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate simple carbs either. Let’s talk about when it could be appropriate to eat each type.

Complex carbs like vegetables should be eaten with every meal. Carbs like whole wheat bread (I tend to call them “hard carbs”) should not be eaten after 6 or 7pm. Even though they are ok to eat during the day, your metabolism slows down by evening time, making it harder for the body to burn it off.  The last thing you want to do is eat carbs at night and have it turn into fat while you are sleeping.  

Simple carbs can be eaten at two times: earlier in the day and right after your workout.  Your metabolism is fastest upon waking up. So, if you want to put honey in your tea or have a bowl of Special K with skim milk (with a protein source), that’s fine.  You also can get away with having a simple sugar with your protein source right after your workout.  Because simple sugars are easy to digest, they will aid in quickly shuttling the protein source into your muscles for more adequate recovery. Just make sure the simple sugar also doesn’t have a lot of fat.  

Here is a list of meals that involve carbs (notice protein always paired with it):

Plain Greek Yogurt and Frozen Blueberries (no, do not use the one with fruit already in it- too much sugar)

Blueberries and Almonds (small serving)
1 tbsp of Peanut/Almond Butter on Whole Wheat Bread
1 tbsp of Peanut/Almond Butter on Apple or Celery
1/2 cup cooked Oatmeal and Egg Whites (I tend to drop 1/3 cup of dried oats in my egg whites)
1/2 cup of cooked Brown Rice and Grilled Chicken

*Note: 1/2 cup of dry oats/rice is much larger than cooked. You should not have more than 1/2 cup cooked. Really measure it out.

And that’s it for now!  Until next time. :)

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