The Carbophobia epidemic is rampant these days. As I sit here and eat waffles every morning, I see friends and fellow fitness professionals eating cold salads with tuna, while telling themselves carbs are the enemy.
I constantly have clients assuming that carbs are bad, and then cutting themselves down because they love carbs. Or they tell me that they have cut carbs and are “still not losing weight”. Or they did a 10 day “cleanse” where they cut out all carbs.
So, are carbs bad?
Do they make you fat?
Too much of any food will make you fat – right? So carbs are really not the enemy. However there are different types of carbs that your body will respond to differently and where you place them in your day affects how your body will use them.
Carbs are necessary for brain function, providing energy to your muscles for workouts, and for keeping moods stable. Ever seen somebody on a low carb diet? Habitually Hangry!
Since I’m all about blood sugar stabilization, I want you to have carbs. Because we want the blood stream to have a consistent level of sugar – between 80-120 mg/dl. This means you do want to consistently provide your body with carbs throughout the day – at every meal.
First, you’ve got to be on board with eating small meals every 2-4 hours. This will help stabilize blood sugar.
Next, you want to create balanced meals with protein, carbs and fats (see Eating in Threes)
Now, we want to focus on the type of carbs — complex or simple. This is related to the glycemic index — the lower number the better. I’m not going to go into deal here about GI, rather I will provide some examples of low G carbs.
Complex carbs are released more slowly into the blood stream, and therefore have less effect on blood sugar levels. By keeping blood sugar stable, you are allowing your body to burn more fat, instead of storing fat.
Complex carbs: minimally processed, or natural carbohydrates
- whole grains, pastas and breads
- brown rice
- sweet potato
Simple Carbs: quick digesting, processed or high in sugar
- refined bread – white breads, cereals
- pastries – doughnuts, cookies, cakes
- dried fruit
- sugary drinks
- chips, pretzels
Although most trainers and nutrition coaches would probably tell you to stay away from simple carbs. I know that there will be times in your life when you be eating these things! Events, picnics, weddings, etc. So I’m going to show you how and when to consume simple carbs.
The good news is, you can lessen the impact on your blood sugar of any carbohydrate if you pair it with protein in the same meal. That means if you do want to have frozen yogurt, you can also drink it with a protein shake so it has less effect on storing fat and spiking your blood sugar.
If you are into wine or beer, just be sure to eat it with a protein meal with less carbs, such as a chicken salad.
There is an ideal time to have these simple carbs: before a workout or after a workout. It’s best to keep it within 20 mins to 1 hour before your workout or within 1 hour after working out. Firstly, eating simple carbs before a workout will create more sugars to be used for intense workouts. Secondly, post workout, your body needs to replenish carbs/sugars to your muscle for stored energy.
post workout is the perfect time to have a doughnut!
If you know me, you know I love carbs, and I eat 2 waffles every morning with my egg whites. That is what makes me happy! And it provides me with the energy that I need to workout and function throughout the day. Each of my clients has a unique relationship with carbs, and I aim to keep them at the highest carbs possible to maintain or lose weight. If you are looking for coaching or a program to learn more about carbs, you can learn more about #TheBetterMethod 8 week online nutrition course by getting on the waitlist here: bit.ly/TBMwaitlist
Your relationship with carbs is all due to how you perceive them. Yes, they are delicious. But they are not evil. We can still have carbs, look good and be happy. Stop depriving yourself from carbs, because then you are angry, resentful, and end up bingeing on carbs anyways because you’ve been trying to keep yourself from them. Here, we are all about balanced eating. And eating carbs. Yes!
What’s your favorite carb? And have you now figured out a way to lessen the impact on your blood sugar when you enjoy it?