26 Oct The Comeback of Carbs: You need them. In moderation.
By Amy Selbach
The popularity of carbs has waxed and waned over the last 30 years. They had their swan song in the 90s and then fell far from grace as high protein and low carb diets dominated the health industry. Until now. I am going to go out on a limb and say in 2013 we will see a comeback for carbs, which have been demonized and misunderstood for far too long.
So what’s great about carbs?
1. Carbs are necessary to make glucose, one of the most important substances for the body’s proper functioning and the life force behind cellular energy.
2. They stimulate the production of leptin. Simply put, this is the hormone that acts as a thermostat for your metabolism and signals to your body when to burn or store fat.
3. Your brain needs twice the amount of energy to function than is needed by all the other cells in the body. This energy also comes from glucose (converted from carbs).
4. Your muscles need carbs as glycogen to support daily activity and movement
So the benefits of carbs are abundant and they help us to live both happily and productively. There are many techniques used by diet gurus such as carb cycling, cheat days, no white carbs (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta), etc. While many of these techniques many work in the short term to build muscle and lose weight, I don’t believe that depriving yourself for five days and binging on white, unhealthy carbs two days is good for your health or your emotional state.
I believe the healthiest long-term strategy is to eat the right carbs at the right times to fuel your daily activity and avoid having the unused, excess carbs stored as fat. So a good time to eat them is before a workout or even better right after a workout when they can be immediately utilized. If you are not working out then try to eat your carbs during the day when they can be utilized, not right before bed or at dinner.
The next key is how to know what carbs to eat, which can make all the difference to your weight loss and help dramatically boost your metabolism. Given the current research we have available to us now I believe one of the best ways to ensure the carbs you are eating are not stored as fat is using the glycemic index as a guideline and trying to stick to lower glycemic index foods. The index informs on which foods raise your blood sugar (glucose levels) the fastest, causing a dramatic and sudden spike in insulin production and often a sudden crash of energy and craving of more afterwards. The scale is also a great indicator of which foods are more likely to be stored as fat when excess glucose is unused. They are usually foods without fiber, fat, and acids and are high in sugar. The foods listed on the scale range from 1 to 100. Low is considered 1-55, medium is 55-70 and high is 71-100.
Fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains all have carbs just like “white carbs,” however most (with the exception of certain fruits) have a lower glycemic index and also contain fiber, vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals that the body needs. So before you go back to your love-hate relationship with carbs, try to appreciate them for what they give you and try to choose the right ones!
Foods on the glycemic index:
Spinach 0-15, Black Beans 30, Orange 40, Brown Rice 53, Banana 62, Sweet Potato 70, White Rice 89
Amy Selbach is the owner of Taut Body Fitness Studio in Village Market Shopping Center, Gigiri. She is a certified health counselor, personal trainer and Pilates instructor, specializing in cross-training, holistic nutrition and weight loss. She has a 15 year-long career in international marketing/PR and brand-building. She also conducts workshops on brand strategy, PR and marketing strategy, and entrepreneurship. Contact her at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.tautbod.com