Sep 16, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About Carbs


www.tcfitlifestyle.com

Let's talk about carbohydrates.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Wait - did I just say good in reference to carbs?!  Yep, I did.  Carbs aren't all good but they also aren't all bad.  I thought of this topic because I have seen the low and no carb "diet" hitting social media again and I thought we were all done with that fad.

I thought everyone knew that Mr. Atkins, himself, passed from a massive heart attack.  Well, that is not true.  He did not die of heart disease or heart related issues.  It was, in fact, due to a slip on the ice and head trauma.  It IS true that he had health issues including hypertension, congestive heart failure and heart attack.

After his death, Atkins' physician assured his widow that diet was not a contributing factor to his health problems.  There is a lot of controversy on the topic and I do not know what he was eating but I know that the body needs carbs.  I also know that this diet plan was created as a measure to aid in weight loss which is a serious issue for many individuals in this country, not to mention that it is spreading to many other countries as well.  And it works because by depleting one of the body's main energy source the body has no choice but to retrieve energy from the source that is stored up.  That is the body's fat.

{Photo Credit}
In doing something good (losing weight) it can be said that some people may go overboard or may not be doing the best thing for the body.  I remember when this diet first became popular people were ecstatic because they could eat as much bacon and steak as their heart desired AND they could combine that with as much ranch dressing as they wanted.  Basically, there was no limit on fat intake at all, just on carb intake.  So it was great that people weren't supposed to eat doughnuts and they restricted their pasta intake or pie crust, cookie and cake intake but they were also limiting, restricting and eliminating things that the body needs.  Side note:  I am not going to lie, I would LOVE a bit of that ooey gooey deliciousness pictured here!


The body needs fuel and we supply that by giving it food.  More importantly, carbohydrates.  Earlier I said the body needs carbs and carbs are used by the body to fuel the brain.  Did you know that 20% of your daily caloric expenditure comes from the  use of your brain?  Have you ever depleted or reduced your carb intake and felt sorta foggy headed?   The reason that happened is because your body did not have what it took to fuel the brain.  I guess you could justify a foggy brain in order to lose weight.  Sometimes that is just a sacrifice that individuals are willing to take.  Not me.  Because I want to be fully aware when I am driving and a school bus stops to drop off some kids but a few of them dart across the street in front of me.  I want to have my brain functioning at full capacity so I can stop.

You probably know that the body breaks down carbohydrates and turns it into glucose.  Before that happens the sugars and starches in carbs are broken down to be absorbed into the blood stream.  Do not let the words 'sugar' and 'starches' freak you out.  We are pretty much programmed that way, aren't we?  I will get to the part on how to be smart about your carbs but first I need to point out that this process is essential as this is what the body needs to run.  Glucose is fuel for the brain.  There are other sources of fuel the brain *can* use but they aren't as beneficial as glucose.  There was a 3 week study done, and reported on Web MD, on women participating in the Atkins low carb diet and it is interesting to see that their memory's were affected during the time of reducing carb intake.  Good news: once the ladies reincorporate carbs into their diet their memory and other cognitive function was restored.

 I don't know about you, but I prefer to keep  my body functioning as optimally as possible.  Besides, I like to drink on the weekends and that is pure poison (literally) so I need to give my body a rest in all the other areas that I possibly can.

Carbohydrates provide the body with fiber and we all know we need this for regularity but did you know fiber has quite a few other benefits?  It helps reduce cholesterol, aids in weight loss and helps you feel full longer as well as assists in regulating blood sugar.  Reducing cholesterol can lead to a reduced risk of heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke.


This topic came up for me because a popular weight loss blogger has been posting about following the low carb diet and having success but what happens when goal weight is achieved?  You can't live your life without carbs forever so will they go on without eating carbs the rest of their life?  Will they gradually reincorporate carbohydrates?  Will they go back to eating carbs the way they formerly did, causing the weight to come back?  Maybe even gain more than they originally weighed?  I am not really sure but I am concerned because of the health aspect of it.

It is crucial to eat balanced meals- lately labeled known as macronutrients.  {On a side note, the first time I saw this term I said WTH is that?}  Not eliminate one or more necessary food groups.  If you are going to eliminate a food group make it the junk food group for fat loss.  The body doesn't have a need for the crap in junk food so it won't hurt it in the slightest to eliminate that.  It will, however, NOT benefit from eliminating carbs.

Let's examine a few examples of foods that contain carbs:
  • pasta
  • bread
  • cereal
  • cake
  • cookies
  • doughnuts
  •  vegetables
  • fruits
  • grains
These are just to name a few and we can probably go down the list and label each one as "good" or "bad".  I would bet that most people will put pasta in the same "bad" category as cake, cookies and doughnuts and there's nothing wrong if you fall into that category.  That is part of why I am writing this.  To educate people that pasta in itself is not "bad".  It is the processing and the sheer volume of pasta that gets consumed in one sitting.  The same can be said of bread.  It has a high probability of getting lumped into the bad category when it doesn't have to be. 

Let's talk about "good" carbs.  PS, I don't really like calling these good or bad but I think it is fitting for the purpose of this post.  This is where the science comes in.  Yay!  It just refers to the simplicity in which the body digests it.  If it is really simple for the body to digest it falls under "simple" and if it not as easy it is "complex".

Simple Carbohydrates:  This is the classification when a food only has 1 or 2 sugars and is easy for the body to breakdown.  Easy stuff doesn't take as long as doesn't burn as much fat/calories.  Candy, sugar, syrup, white flour and processed foods fall in this category.  They typically do not contain nutritional value and are commonly referred to as empty calories.  These are the things that people are so drawn to and accidentally over consume.  These items are also why a lot of other carbs get a bad rap.  Please note, not ALL simple carbs are crappy.  You will find it interesting to know that some fruits and veggies fall in this category -more on this coming up.

Complex Carbs:    Have 3 or more sugars and takes the body longer to break down, thus burning more fuel.  These can be grains, wheat, quinoa, barley, rye, vegetables, fruit and certain pastas such as whole wheat, durum, spelt and other veggie-type pastas just to name a few.  So, I thought of a comparison of eating a piece of cake versus a celery stalk.  It much easier and quicker to chew up a piece of cake than a stalk of celery.  We all know that celery can be a negative calorie food because the body uses more energy chewing and digesting it than it has in calorie content. Point is that it is more work to chew a celery stalk than a slice of cake.
This can get broken down even further into more specific categories but today's post is long enough ;)

www.tcfitlifestyle.com
Add caption
Above I talked about the benefits of fiber.  Fruit and vegetables contain fiber AND nutrients so there is a dual benefit in consuming these.  In the breakdown I noted that some fruit and veggies are simple carbs and I made it seem like simple carbs are the ones to eat in moderation.  Let me elaborate.  I do, indeed, mean to eat most simple carbs, such as cakes and processed foods, in moderation.  When it comes to fruit and veggies I say eat 'em up!!  This is because they have nutritional value and they provide nourishment for the body.  Stuff that the body needs and not just empty junk.  I have commonly heard people say they are only eating veggies and limited fruit for their carb intake.  Man, how can a  person expect to stay healthy by reducing some of the most crucial nutrients from their life?!  

I understand weight loss is important and I am a firm believer in maintaining healthy lifestyles but I DON'T believe in cutting carbs to lose weight.  I DO believe in moderation.  Pasta and bread can pack in the calories which also means packing on the pounds.  I am not even mentioning doughnuts, cookies and cakes because we all know those are LOADED with calories, carbs and sugars.  This means pasta when you are getting ready to sit down for a spaghetti dinner with your friends and family serve yourself the actual serving size which is 3/4 of a cup.

When you choose your bread make it whole grains and the great things I listed above.  Personally, I choose thinner slices too because the larger the serving the more the calories.  I also have a preference to pick the ones without preservatives.  This means it won't last on my counter top for 3-4 weeks but you will extending your life which is WAY more important than extending the shelf life of a loaf of bread!!  If you need to, store it in the fridge to make it last longer but most households can handle 1 loaf of bread in a week or week and a half.

My message:  No need to eliminate carbohydrates from your life but definitely be wise by electing quality options and practice smart serving sizes.  Those labels will help guide you to eating the proper portions and THAT will help your waistline!

What are your thoughts about this?  If you liked this article please share it!

Be sure to follow me for great health info and maybe a little nonsense rant here and there.  Subscribe to my page by entering your email which will give you up to date info.

And, today's hump day so I'm linking up with some reaaally awesome peeps.  Join us!
”Femme

Vodka and Soda






22 comments:

  1. good morning dear :)
    yah, no all bad! I`m vegan, so I eat a lot of pasta ... now I wanna lost weight so I will eat more vegetables and nuts.. I hope have a lot of energy as today! :D
    have a great day!
    keep in touch!

    ps: Thank you for follow, I follow back with pleause!!

    Kisses :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you find it difficult to eat places as a vegan? You're welcome for the follow and thank you!

      Delete
  2. I dont understand why people think all carbs are bad?! I mean, there is a reason why grains made up the bottom half of the food pyramid for so long! You just have to be smart about what kind you are getting :) Love this! So informative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha, it's funny that you referred to the structure of the food pyramid in past tense.

      Delete
  3. This is a great post! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping in, glad you like it :)

      Delete
  4. I am a firm believer in eating a balanced diet....no elimination...or body needs everything. That said, I can totally overdose on carbs and I do have to limit my breads and pastas. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, we had dinner at a friend's house a couple weeks ago and they made homemade meatballs with sausage and pasta. I put a normal size amount on my plate and he wasn't having it! He grabbed the ladle and added a heaping amount. in my mind, I was only going to eat what I originally put on my plate but ended up eating a little more just cuz it was there.

      Delete
  5. I already see great things in this post and am definitely pinning to go back to later! ) I LOVE carbs so much...too much lol. But I have friends who are so convinced they are 'bad' or that 'keto' is the way to go. I prefer not eliminating food groups (if possible) also, unless you have a medical reason to do so. Hope you are well and I must say I am glad I have started to stop by again! Missed ya! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, medical reasons are a totally different story. At that point you have to be wise based on allergies, etc. I'm glad you stopped back by and look forward to seeing more of you :)

      Delete
  6. I think the misunderstanding happens because some automatically think only bread and pasta when they think of carbs. They don't think veggies and other more nutrient-dense sources.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it could also be because restaurants serve 6x the amount of a normal serving of pasta. Then we get used to it and over consume which is what gets us into trouble.

      Delete
  7. I never jumped on the low carb for life bandwagon. If carbs were bad the French, South Asians and Asians would be the fattest people on earth. We know that is not true, it is more about portion control more than anything, IMO. #wowlinkup

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! I will admit that I was doing low carb for a while. I think I was prepping myself for learning how to eat carbs in moderation. (I will keep telling myself that)

      Delete
  8. i do smart carbs: healthy carbs in controlled portions. i don't eat white rice anymore which is like, a staple of my people's food (i'm asian) and letting that go was one of the best things i've ever done - no more bloating or feelings of grossness!

    i only eat healthy carbs and like you, i believe that you should never have to eliminate a food group just to drop weight. people need to do more research for themselves instead of believing/following to everything they read.

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes I have white rice- not often but every once in a while I'll have a piece of a sushi roll. Otherwise, I just have the sashimi. Maybe I'll do a "did you know" about fat.

      Delete
  9. You better teach and preach. Folks need to understand all carbs are not the same and to stop being scared. If folks understood the art of moderation perhaps they would not have to go to such extremes like trying to eliminate an entire food group that our body needs to prosper. Love this post. Welcome to WOW Link Up. #wowlinkup

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping in! Moderation is the key to every aspect of our lives. It is even possible to be overweight as a vegetarian if over consumption occurs.

      Delete
  10. Good info! When I was tracking my food with MyFitnessPal I saw that I was routinely going wayyy overboard on the protein. Now I try to make sure I'm also eating good carbs, including veggies and things like sweet potatoes. Welcome to our link up! #wowlinkup

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I am still figuring out how to get to some of the co-hosts of the link up and I like it so far :)

      I really like those apps because they are great to help track a person's day. sometimes it is better than plain ol' pen & paper. PS, I LOVE sweet potatoes

      Delete
  11. Great post! I completely agree with you. I once did the Atkins diet and lost a lot of weight. But, I could never keep it off. I love carbs too much. Now I just substitute whole grains for the white grains. I try to eat Paleo and Gluten-Free as much as possible. I eat gluten-free due to stomach issues and the paleo is not too strict. So, I can still enjoy fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbs. Of course I do enjoy a cheat meal here and there because you need to indulge once in a while.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear conflicting info on Paleo. I refer to it was eating just stuff from the earth. Like fruits, veggies, meats and grains.... like the farmers did during the pioneer days. Someone told me she eats Paleo but doesn't eat potatoes and a few other things.

      Delete