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Carbohydrates

DAY 16!

Let’s talk about CARBOHYDRATES, and let’s look at pictures so it goes  faster!

This is a carbohydrate.

This is a carbohydrate.

This is a carbohydrate.

Sweet Potatoes

…again, a carbohydrate.

rice

You guessed it! Another carbohydrate.

Tricky, but also a carbohydrate.

All different.  

All plants.

All carbohydrates.  

 

“GOOD” CARBOHYDRATES ARE:  VEGETABLES AND FRUITS, ROOTS AND TUBERS

I’m sure you all are aware that most vegetables are carbohydrates.  As are all (almost) fruits (e.g. the avocado is a fruit but we consider it a fat, although it does contain carbohydrate).  Vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates.  Vegetables and fruits are healthy.  Roots and tubers (sweet potatoes, yams, yucca) are also carbohydrates. So why would some people “brag” they’ve eaten “no carbohydrates”?  Probably because they associate grains and donuts with carbohydrates…which is a huge bummer…and in the Paleo world, those things don’t exist, so Paleo carbs are all good!

The thing is, in our bodies, carbohydrates are broken down through digestion and turned into glucose (ultimately) that can be used as needed energy or stored for later use should energy levels from your diet drop.

CARBOHYDRATES ARE ALSO SUGARY CANDIES, BAKED GOODS,
GRAIN FLOUR, GRAINS, BEANS, LEGUMES…

Most vegetables and fruit, due to their fiber content, are not rapidly broken down through digestion as more refined carbohydrates are (some grains, flour, simple sugar like candy and sweets, and baked goods).

And so what’s the big deal about non-starchy vegetables versus starchy ones like potatoes and beans, or about corn and peas? Or better yet, versus “heart healthy whole grains” (choke, choke, gag, gag)

Well, lets make it simple.  And know there’s more behind the scenes, but let’s just think of it this way for today.  If this makes sense, then dig further.

CARBOHYDRATES ARE DIGESTED, BROKEN DOWN, PROCESSED…
WHATEVER…
AT DIFFERENT RATES BASED ON THE TYPE OF CARBOHYDRATE.

Here are two very different carbohydrates:

    

There are two things we want you to focus on here:

  1. the rate of digestion/breakdown, and therefore the rate of glucose entering the bloodstream and the resulting, associated insulin release
  2. the nutrient value, and the nutrient value related to energy (calories).
Remember, here, we’re talking about carbohydrates, grams of carbohydrates, and related insulin levels.  So we have cabbage.  Fibrous healthy, non-starchy vegetable.  If you compare this to a bagel, also a carbohydrate, you get interesting results.
First, for 100 grams (weight of the food) of each food:
CABBAGE:  25 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates with 3 of them being fiber.
BAGEL:  275 calories, 53 grams of carbohydrates with 2 of them being fiber.
 
Doesn’t seem fair right?  But we compared 100 grams (food weight) of each food.  Why the massive spread in “energy” (calories) and carbohydrates?  Type of carbohydrate of course!
So let’s look at them this way:  Let’s try to even out the calories and forget about the serving size of the food (e.g. grams/weight of food).    Let’s take as close to 275 calories worth of cabbage as we can and compare carbohydrates that way:

 CABBAGE:  227 calories, 53 grams of carbohydrates with 23 of them being fiber. 
BAGEL:  275 calories, 53 grams of carbohydrates with 2 of them being fiber.

Interesting….same calories, same grams of carbohydrate, but certainly more fiber in the cabbage.  But get this, 275 calories from a bagel equates to a medium bagel, about 3.5 inches in diameter.  Little bitty thing!  227 calories of cabbage is equal to 900 grams!  That’s about 32 ounces – or two pounds!  Sorry, doubt you’ll eat that much cabbage even if it looks like coleslaw!

Want to check my math?  Here are the links to the nutrient facts:

NUTRIENT DATA ON CABBAGE (100 grams)

NUTRIENT DATA ON BAGEL (100 grams/275 calories)

NUTRIENT DATA ON CABBAGE (908 grams/227 calories)

VEGETABLES AND FRUITS VARY IN
CARBOHYDRATE CONTENT
AND NUTRIENT DENSITY

Let’s look at “nutrient density” or nutrient content.  And let’s compare the latter example – where we have the same carbohydrate content versus weight of food. And let’s just pick a few items to study:

And I’m too lazy to type it all in so here’s the image from both screen shots:

CABBAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note Vitamin C, K B6 and folate.  Pretty good huh?  Also, check out the mineral content.  Not bad!  But you’re gonna say – whoa….you said I’d never eat 2 pounds of cabbage.  Correct – but I also said let’s compare apples to apples as far as “energy” or calories go…which leveled out our carbohydrate spread.  Had I said what the heck – let’s compare and average serving to an average serving, then you’d have a huge difference in both carbohydrate content AND calories.  Cabbage would win out solely based on the insulin spike that’d come with the bagel.  (more on that in a minute).  Next up…

BAGEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Vitamins C and K don’t really register, but I guess we get a double digit 11% pop of Thiamin.  And we a few decent minerals – 10% Phosphorus…27% Manganese…and 22%…sodium? Well, I guess we can say it’s a mineral so it’s a good thing right?  What a stretch.

Hands down, the non-starchy veggies and fruits win out over grains, beans and legumes every time based on both carbohydrate content and nutrient content.  We want nutrient dense foods in our diets – those what provide the biggest bang for our buck, as with soil as weak as it is, pesticides, the ozone, acid rain…our produce simply isn’t as nutritious as it was thousands of years ago.  So we most likely need more “nutrients” to keep us healthy.

GOAL:  LOW(ER), BALANCED INSULIN AND NUTRIENT DENSITY ARE THE KEYS

Finally, getting to the last point – why does carbohydrate count matter?  That’s pretty simple.  Way back, the ADA established an “exchange” of carbohydrates for diabetics at around 15 grams.  So if you were diabetic they’d tell you you could have 1-2 “exchanges” per meal to generally manage insulin release stimulated by the amount of carbohydrates ingested.  Point being, an intake of 15-30 grams of carbohydrate (probably closer to 30 grams) is enough to cause a “spike” in insulin, versus a gradual release from lesser carbohydrates.  That spike causes your body to store fat, or at the very least open up the cell to make it available to taking in the nutrients in the bloodstream.  Insulin is a storage signaling hormone.  

Post workout, when we need to refuel, this is a good thing, but not all day, every day.  On the flip side of this, the side where we eat processed foods for breakfast (orange juice, cereal, milk and fruit), and lunch (big sub with potato chips and coke or sweet tea), and dinner (baked ziti with red sauce and mashed potatoes)…our bodies are constantly “storing”…and storing and storing and storing. And if you’re not “using” those carbohydrates (energy), they are most certainly being stored in your fat cells. Also, the more sugar (glucose) that’s cursing around in your blood vessels, the more propensity for inflammation.  None of us want that!

So if your immediate goal is body composition, other than the post WOD window, the bulk of your energy (carbs) should come from non-starchy vegetables throughout the day.  Starches and higher carbs are better post WOD when your cells are more insulin sensitive and when you truly need the refuel.  For Performance, your post WOD carbs should be higher, and you are probably going to find benefit in your WODs, strength, etc., if you increase your carbs generally throughout the day. 

A NOTE ABOUT FRUIT

If your goal in this challenge is to lose body fat, and your diet previously consisted of a lot of fruit (healthy carbohydrate, right? Yes.  But…) we likely have recommended that you cut down on the fruit, at least in the beginning.  In a nutshell, fructose (sugar from fruit) is not digested the same way other carbohydrates are.  It is processed by the liver, converted to a storage form of free fatty acid and then released back into the blood stream (some stored in the liver) for use – if there’s no need for more energy that can be derived from a fat, it is simply stored.  The story is bigger than that, but I started with “in a nutshell”.

 

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