The Truth About Carbs and Two Fat Burning Recipes
In my last post, I talked about macronutrient combination—a really important topic, and the first step towards developing an understanding of macronutrients in general.
The next step is to move beyond combination and general discussion, and learning about each macronutrient in it’s own right. And so, in both this series of posts, I am going to give you the nuts and bolts (AND some recipes!).
Carbohydrates seem to be the “focus” of my diets (especially fat loss diets), so it makes sense to start there. Carbs have taken a real beating in the media ever since a some guy named Atkins (you may have heard of him) decided we weren’t allowed to eat donuts anymore. (Prior to this we were allowed to eat donuts, but they had to be reduced fat; this made us feel better about ourselves).
All joking aside, carbs do get kind of a bad rap; or, at least, a worse one than they deserve. Carbs come in a variety of forms. Some are good for you, and some are bad. The bad ones are usually highly processed and broken down so completely that they are no longer recognizable.
Of course, if you process the crap out of anything, it isn’t going to be healthy after a point. This doesn’t mean carbs are “evil” and to blame for all the ills of the world from the Nazis to the obesity epidemic– it just means processed food is great at making people fat.
Anyway, carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules, which your body breaks down into fuel, especially when you’re working hard. Sugars, starches and fiber are all basic forms of the carbohydrate.
Well, here is where it gets a bit trickier, although I’m going to try and make this as simple as possible.
NOTE: We could also mention Fibrous Carbs that you can find in foods like green veggies, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini…buuuut we won’t. For the purposes of this discussion of carbs I only want to touch on stuff that “counts.” I usually don’t recommend counting calories (or carbs for that matter) coming from fibrous carbs.
SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES are made up of chains of molecules that don’t branch off. Examples of simple carbohydrates would include table sugar, syrups, and soda. Most of the time, these carbs should be avoided (exceptions include post-workout and cheat days), and are usually the “bad carbs” we fitness pros talk about.
Also included on this list are things like candy, snuggles, cake, beer, puppies, cookies, fun, and unicorn magic. In other words, the best ones.
COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES on the other hand, do branch off—sometimes a bit wildly. Complex carbohydrates include oatmeal, apples, cardboard and peas.
For a long time, people believed that complex carbohydrates were far better for you than simple carbohydrates, but that isn’t always the case.
You see, your body takes both complex and simple carbohydrates, and tries to break them down into useable sugar energy to fuel your muscles and organs. It’s not the type of carbohydrate that really matters, but how quickly your body can break it down, and how much it will spike your blood glucose levels.
Instead of using the simple method of dividing complex carbs from simple ones, a slightly more sophisticated way to “rate” carbohydrate quality is something called the Glycemic Index (GI for short). The Glycemic Index attempts to classify foods by how quickly and how high foods boost blood sugar levels.
For a while, the GI was all the rage, and people argued that by following a get low GI diet, you’d keep insulin levels in check even while eating higher carbs overall. This has turned out to be only partially true. Which is to say that while it’s probably better to eat low GI foods than high GI ones, there probably won’t be a tremendous difference in your waistline if you’re still eating your weight in sweet potatoes instead of Cheerios.
Neither low carb diets nor low GI diets are a cure all for fat loss; the main thing is to eat the right amounts of healthy foods that fuel metabolism, which in turn will help you burn fat.
The important thing to remember is that your body needs carbs, even if some of the fad diets tell you otherwise. Without carbohydrates, your body will begin to break down your muscle tissue to fuel your body, which will sabotage your efforts.
Carb lovers lament low carb diets and anti-carb crusaders posit that you can avoid them for the most part and still do well. The truth is a bit of middle ground. So, yes, speaking generally you should avoid “simple carbs” and “high-GI foods,” but that doesn’t mean you can eat complex carbs or LOW GI foods all day, either.
For my part, I acknowledge that carbs are not the devil; however, I find that my clients do better on low(er) carbs than not, in terms of fat loss.
As a general rule, I like to have people eating in the area of 100 grams of carbs per day.
Getting more specific, I like to set carbohydrate intake at around .5 to .75 grams PER POUND of lean body mass.
As for energy: carbs yield 4 calories per gram.
Now, as I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, it is my belief that you should avoid eating carbohydrates and fats together (in significant amounts).
People who oppose my stance on macronutrient combination are quick to point out that eating carbs and fat together slows the rate of digestion of the carbs, lowers the glycemic/insulin response, and can generally offset some of the negatives that come with carbohydrate consumption.
Having said that—protein can do the same damn thing. And in many cases, do it better. On top of that, you don’t have the issues I discussed yesterday.
For that reason, I think it’s best to ONLY consume carbohydrates when you’re also going to consume protein. [NOTE: cheat days don’t count for this rule, or any other, because they are cheat days. Duh.]
Now, without further adieu, I’m going to hook you up with TWO recipes from Dave Ruel’s Metabolic Cooking , both of which fall under the catergory of PROTEIN + CARB Meals.
One is a fast and delicious shake, and the other is the most awesome chili I’ve ever had.
This might be my new go-to recipe for when I don’t want steak. Well, I always want steak. But this might be my go-to recipe for when I don’t have any.
Keep in mind that when you pick up Metabolic Cooking, you get these…
So pick up Metabolic Cooking NOW and don’t miss out on the awesome savings.
NOTE: Here is a quick link jump to the entire series: