What’s So Bad About Carbs? Part 1 of 3

personal training, nutrition

personal training, nutritionI don’t think there is another dreaded food word these days! I get asked regularly, “Can I eat carbs?”  And my answer is always YES!! So why are they getting such a bad wrap, and why are people so afraid of them?

First of all, you have to remember that carbohydrates are ALL grown from the ground. That means that this macronutrient group includes all edible plant life. Grains, fruits and vegetables are ALL part of a healthy diet. It’s the amount you choose to eat based on the diet you prefer to follow that results in how much or little you should consume.

Today I want to focus just on grains, which are known as a starchy carbohydrate.

So many people are poo-pooing them, thinking they are the reason for weight gain. And this may be true, based on what form of grain you are eating, how much grain you are eating, and how much or little you exercise or move your body. Whole grain options are not bad for us. They contain a lot of goodness, including B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate), minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium) and fibre.

When you choose refined grains however, the fibre has been stripped from the grain so it will digest a lot faster, elevating your blood sugar level. Think along the lines of white bread, hamburger and hot dog buns, ethnic breads, pitas, wraps, and baked goods (as delicious as they are, they often are full of sugar for sweetness even increasing that blood sugar level more). The more processed a grain is the quicker it becomes sugar in our body…..and that my dear is where the problem lies….and will likely result in that unwanted weight gain.

When we look at whole grain, such as oats, quinoa, brown basmati rice, etc., we are consuming them in their natural form. We have to chew it, it has to digest, it still has its good nutrients and fibre, so provides benefits to your body including better bowel function and feeling full longer. Whole grains won’t harm us when eaten in the proper portion size, which I generally recommend ½ cup serving for most females and 1 cup for most males.

Whole grains will provide us with energy to do the activities in our day if we have them 1-2 times a day, based on personal activity level. So, here is how the average day flows for adults. We wake up, go to the washroom (50% sit down for this), go to the kitchen to sit and have coffee, eat breakfast or watch the news. We then either drive or take transit to work…sitting. We take our seat at our desk, have lunch sitting, sit at our desk for the remainder of the day, sit on our way home, sit to relax for a bit, sit to eat dinner, sit and watch tv, read or fiddle with our computer. WOW! That’s a lot of sitting, aka, not moving. When you have that little physical activity in your day and are consuming processed grains at most of your meals you can see how it results in weight gain. If you have a manual job and are walking, lifting and unloading all day long you can consume more. If you choose physical exercise most days in challenging ways, yes, you can consume more.

Think about your day. Consider your activity level. Ask yourself if your grain options are adequate to your lifestyle. What positive changes can you make to improve upon that? There is no perfect answer. You need to look and listen to your body. We are all different and have varying needs.