Often times when I ask a client how she would rate her diet, I get this response:

"I think I eat pretty well. I try to not to eat carbs, or if I do I try not to eat any past 7pm."

And this reminds me of a few years ago when I used to say the same thing. I proudly wore my low-carb badge and spread the low-carb gospel as I drank my 440 calorie Bulletproof Coffee.

Thankfully those days are gone. Now I appreciate where clients that give me responses like that are coming from.

If you enjoy your low-carb diet - Fine. I'm not here to change that.

If you avoid pizza-night with your friends because carbs are magically going to make you fat, keep reading.

What Do We Needs Carbs For?

  • To provide energy for cellular function (Carbohydrates are primarily a source of immediate energy for all of your body’s cells)
  • Spares use of proteins for energy
  • Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for brain, nervous tissue, and skeletal muscle (muscles under voluntary control)
  • Flavour and sweeteners
  • Dietary fiber

Complex “Good" carbs and simple “Bad” carbs:

Saying a single food or food source is "toxic" or unhealthy because it contains a relatively high carbohydrate is just silly.

To quote Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition:

All carbohydrates we consume are digested into monosaccharides or simple sugars (simple carbs AKA “bad carbs”) before they’re absorbed by the body, regardless of whether the food source is a simple sugar cube or a high-fiber bowl of oatmeal. It’s just that the “healthier carbs” are digested and absorbed much slower while the “non-healthy” carbs are digested very quickly.
Once broken down and absorbed, these monosaccharides/sugars go to the liver to fill energy stores. After that, they enter the bloodstream and venture out to the other cells of the body.

Are Low-Carb Diets Superior to High Carb-Low Fat Diets When It Comes To Weight Loss?

This will make all my fellow cupcake eating, wine drinking friends happy:

Research has shown that once protein intake is matched for both groups, there is no advantage to low-carb diets. “Bodyweight loss and weight-maintenance depends on high high-protein, but not on the low-carb’ component of the diet.” 2012: Soenen et al.

Again goes to show you how important protein is in your diet.

For sustained weight loss you need to be feeling optimal both mentally and physically. That way you can be efficient and productive with your workouts.

Sure. A low-carb diet may be good enough if your exercise program consists of slow walks or reading a magazine on the eliptical.

But most of us like to get in the gym for 30 minutes to an hour, give it our all and get the most bang for our buck by challenging ourselves.

AKA doing the least amount of work for the greatest results.

That’s very hard to do if you’re underfueled and undercarbed - unless you’re a genetic god, as Dr. Susan Kleiner would say.

Consider the following: East African distance runners absolutely dominate the endurance game. Miiddle and long-distance runners from Kenya and Ethiopia hold over 90% of the all-time world records and also the current top-10 positions in world rankings. Dietary habits of elite Ethiopian distance runners have recently been reported here are the main findings: mean total energy intake was 3194 kcals of which 64.3% was carbohydrates. The dominant macronutrient by a large margin. (Alan Aragon)

How Much Carbs Do I Need?

In my two previous posts on Protein and Fats I described a pretty simple way to figure out how much you need of each.

Figuring out optimal carbohydrate intake is a little tricker and will take some experimenting.

Your goal should be to find the most amount of carbs you can consume to improve your physique and maintain optimal energy.

The minimum recommended intake of carbohydrates for the majority of us is 130 grams. This amount varies depending on the protein and fat content of your diet. It also depends on how active you are and what your body size is.

If you’re small person who spends the majority of the day at a desk or is sedentary, you eat less carbs than a construction worker. Regardless of the fact that both you kill it in the gym for an hour every day.

Tracking your intake is key here but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You simply need to make note of the number of servings you’re having in a day. After a couple weeks and some data, you will be well on your way to make necessary changes.

Example:

I usually have two fists of rice, two fists of veggies and one banana a day. I notice that my waist circumference has increased from two weeks ago. I might take out one-half of those rice portions for two weeks and see what happens. (Assuming that during the those two weeks, my activity, protein and fat intake didn't change).

So aim for a minimum of 130 grams of carbs to start with if you're not already there. Ideally you should get the majority of your carbs from fruits and vegetables instead of Twinkies. That’ll help you get both important nutrients and fiber.

Below is a list of foods with the amount of carbohydrates in grams.

  • Bread 1 regular slice, 15-23 grams
  • Pancake 6” diameter (avg size), 30 grams
  • Pasta, cooked 1 Cup, 45 grams
  • Rice cooked 1 Cup, 45 grams
  • Corn Cob 6”-9”, 30-45 grams
  • Yogurt (plain) 1 Cup, 12 grams
  • Apple Juice 100% 1 Cup, 30 grams
  • Muffins (bakery type) 60-75 grams
  • Sugar 1 Tbsp, 15 grams

For the full list click on the link below. http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/MEND/CarbList.pdf

Getting enough carbohydrates will make you feel awesome at life and your body will thank you for feeding it.

If this still doesn’t make sense or you have questions email me and I’ll help you figure it out.

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