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Carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are a very controversial and sometimes touchy topic for some people. Most of us have been  led to believe that carbs=bad, therefore, we should restrict our intake. I’m not here to tell you that you are wrong or that you are bad for believing in the hype, after all, it’s not your fault.

Carbohydrate- noun-any of a class of organic compounds that are polyhydroxy aldehydes or polyhydroxy ketones, or change to such substances on simple chemical transformations, as hydrolysis, oxidation, or reduction, and that form the supporting tissues of plants and are important food for animals and people. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/carbohydrate)

 

Our bodies use carbs to make glucose, which provide the body with energy. Our bodies will do one of two things, utilize it immediately, or store it for later use. There are two kinds of carbohydrates, complex and simple.

A complex carbohydrate is best defined as, foods that are fibrous and starchy. Think potatoes and beans, or, breads and veggies. Fiber can be found in whole grain, fruits and vegetables.

Simple carbohydrates are best defined as anything that has sugar in it, naturally or added,( which also mean they are less nutrient dense foods).

There is nothing wrong with Simple Carbs in moderation. It’s all a balance now isn’t it? I tend to try and stick with the Complex Carbs not only because for me, I am getting more bang for my calorie buck (due to fiber content etc..) it seems to satiate me longer and give me the best amount of energy sources.  Which leads me to another important tip, it’s very important for you to make sure you are getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet as well. Many,  MANY people have NO idea how much fiber they take in and when they decide to track it, find out they are eating very little if ANY fiber at all. Girl! You need to regulate yourself somehow! Get on that fiber! Fiber also tends to fill you as well, so if you are eating something that is high in fiber, it will tend to satiate you longer.

Fiber rich foods: Oatmeal, bran, fruits (in the form of berries), dried beans, peas, whole wheat bread, brown, rice, most veggies, couscous, bulgar etc..

I, personally, usually take in between 25-40 grams of fiber a day. Yes, that much. Now, I am not saying that is how much you need to take in, but you do need to figure out the amount that is right for you. I would honestly say, no less than 18 grams and right around 25 would be prec’. I would also gamble to say if you are getting less than 18 grams per day, you may need to rethink your food choices, as I can not imagine they are the most nutrient dense choices out there.

Now back to carbs. For a period of time, I bought into the low carb craze and tried out Atkins, South Beach et al. Following those plans left me feeling depleted and yuck. Satiated? Yes, energetic? NO. The reason why most people do well with weight loss on low carb is because they are consuming more in the way of proteins and fats which are MORE filling and satiating. It’s simple science. So the reason why you saw weight loss was NOT because you gave up carbs or severely restricted them, it’s because you were getting full, which led to eating LESS, which led to a caloric DEFECIT (because we all know that at the end of the day, calories in vs calories out is what gives us a loss) due to the higher protein and fat intake. However, I know that many people will dismiss this or try to argue  their way out of it, or STILL swear by the fact that carbs are bad and LESS is best. NO.

 

Most healthy adults should aim to get at least 45-65% of their calories from carbohydrates. So if you are taking in say 2000 calories a day, you should be aiming to eat roughly 900-1300 calories from carbs (which will vary depending on your sex, your height/weight and most importantly your activity level) Remember that carbs are 4 calories PER gram. This is where I tell you that you must  make sure you are eating a well balanced diet when taking all things into consideration. Athletes tend to aim for a higher carbohydrate count for sustainability and energy.

Carbs are NOT the enemy and carbs ARE NOT bad for you. I will not preach about the good carbs vs the bad carbs, because I truly believe food labeling is something I strive hard to not do. Foods, ANY foods, which are used smartly and for the right reason are fine. Yes, even WHITE BREAD and chocolate. At the end of the day, you have to live with ALL your choices and the end result is something only YOU can decide what it will be. I can give the tools to help you, but you steer your own ship.

Next time I will talk about fats, calories and how all of these tie together (protein, carbs, fats, fiber), when trying to figure out how much and what you should be taking in on a daily basis.

 

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Let’s Talk Protein.

As many of you already know Protein is a very important macronutrient and even more important if you are weight training, are a runner or any kind of athlete for that matter. Your body needs it. Let me break down in a little more detail exactly what Protein is and what it does for you.

Proteins are made up of Amino Acids, you can also think of Amino Acids as building blocks. Some Amino Acids cannot be made within our bodies. The Amino Acids that cannot be made within our bodies are called Essential Amino Acids. They are called Essential because it is essential that our bodies have them.

When referring to Nutrition and what we eat we have two categories, Complete Proteins and Incomplete Proteins. The difference between the two are as follows:

Complete Proteins: These provide ALL of the essential amino acids, you may also have heard them called high quality proteins. Some examples of high quality proteins are your meats, fishes, eggs, poultry, milk and cheese. CHEESE!! OMG, I love cheese!

Incomplete Proteins: It does not contain all the amino acids, it could be missing one or a few(think plant based). Two quick examples would be something like rice and beans. If eaten separately they are both lacking amino acids to make it a complete protein, however, if you eat them together (like us Latinos) you will then get a more adequate amount of amino acids. One interesting fact I found out was that you do NOT indeed need to eat incomplete proteins together to form a complete at one sitting, you can eat them throughout the day and your body will combine them naturally (http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html).

If you follow that link you will also see down at the bottom it gives recommended daily amounts of protein broken down by age. Please try and remember that those are baseline numbers, especially if we are talking about athletes, body builders etc.. At which point I say amounts of protein may vary, but like I have said in previous post 1g per protein by bodyweight is a good rule of thumb (however, with that being said, take into account that I lift weights and I am active. If you are sedentary and do very little in terms of exercise, you can scale that number back to about .8grams). I am 140lbs and I take in roughly 140 grams of protein daily. Some days I take in more and some less, but by weeks end I typically go by a daily average of about 135-140 grams.  Which leads me to the next topic of, can you get too much protein and how does the body break it down.

Your body can digest and absorb about 95% of the protein you ingest. The rest is broken down (which is roughly 5%) and used in other energy pathways. The absorption happens at various rates. There is much controversy on how much or how little protein one actually needs, depending on who you talk to. Some would say that you only need as little as .91 grams/weight (I still stick by my .8). Do your research, trial and error with your intake a bit to figure out what is right for you.

More times than not, I am shocked when I hear people give me a break down of their daily intake and it is severely lacking in protein. What most people do not realize is that the majority of their diets are made up of  carbs and fats.  This is why I say it is very  important to log your food for a while. This way you can see for yourself where your macronutrients are and where you are lacking or eating too much of. I realize some of you just don’t want to be bothered with it or could care less. I strongly caution you against this train of thought. Even if you are not looking to lose weight, don’t you at least want to know that you are fueling your body properly to ward off any future problems? Don’t you want to feel better? More energized? What have you got to lose? The 1/2 hour it may take you to find the food app on your phone and set it up? That’s it. After that, you are good to go. All you need to do is log your food as your day progresses, and the end of the day, it’s all there right in front of you. What you ate and what percentages of each macronutrient you consumed in your day. I mean then,  it won’t be a question of why am I not losing, gaining, still hungry, not hungry etc..you just open up your handy dandy little app and evaluate what you need to do going forward.

I really want to help you help yourself. Next time, I will focus on carbohydrates, what they are, why we need them and the pros and cons of having too little or too much.

Oh! Before I go real quick. I get asked what the difference is between Whey Protein and Whey Isolate (these are protein supplements that may be used to get your  protein requirements in for the day IN CONJUNCTION with the rest of your intake coming from whole foods).

Whey Protein- is the most popular and cheapest source out on the market. It is also the one we are most familiar with, and whey comes from milk, is the quickest and easiest for the body to digest. Whey contains between 70/80 % protein and roughly 5% comes from lactose (which is good to keep in mind for those of you who are lactose intolerant)

Isolates- These are more expensive and probably is the most purest of both forms, containing about 95% protein. They also contain little to no lactose and generally are lower in fat than whey.

Is one better than the other. In my opinion NO. Unless you have a lactose issue, go for the cheaper  variety of whey. If you are a protein snob and are watching your fats AND you are lactose intolerant AND have money to just burn..sure, go for the isolate.

Kbye!

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