Week 4 Nutrition Habit: Improve your Carb Game
To eat carbs or not to eat carbs? At the end of the day, carbohydrates are the primary fuel source of our bodies and all of its functions. Athletes need quality fuel to sustain their physical pursuits and efforts, and it’s carbs that are the staple to any healthy diet and offer the energy needed. Do you worry about how many carbs you should eat or think you should cut them out completely? When we are too strict with our carb intake we may experience decreased energy, increased cravings, or feeling deprived and angry. We may also experience these symptoms when we over consume carbs, especially highly processed ones.
Do you worry that carbs will make you gain weight? The primary thing that will contribute to weight gain is consuming more energy than you are burning ie, eating too much. One specific nutrient alone, found inherently in many foods, will not make you fat. Eating too much of any food is the ultimate issue when it comes to weight gain and loss.
Athletes need quality fuel to sustain their physical pursuits and efforts, and it’s carbs that are the staple to any healthy diet and offer the energy needed.
What makes a carb “good” or “bad”? While we don’t label foods as good or bad, we acknowledge that a continuum exists between foods that add value and those that don’t add value to your health and well-being. Take the analogy of fueling up a vehicle. If you want that vehicle to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, you fill it up with the highest quality fuel you can. Carbohydrates that are considered the best fuel sources have a high fiber content, are slow digesting, full of nutrients, and are easily recognized because they are minimally processed, aka whole foods. Carbs that are considered “bad” are typically highly refined and processed, stripped of nutrients and fiber, and digest much quicker.
Carbohydrates that are considered the best fuel sources have a high fiber content, are slow digesting, full of nutrients, and are easily recognized because they are minimally processed, aka whole foods.
Don’t eliminate or cut carbs, just eat better quality carbs!
Quality Carbs Include:
- Fruit, plantains, berries, etc.
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.
- Minimally processed grains such as whole oats (slow to cook), rice, quinoa, etc.
- Beans and legumes
If you really start having interest in carbohydrates it can be useful to look at the glycemic index and glycemic load of a given food item. There are some issues with relying on glycemic indices as well as glycemic load – mainly that those numbers are tested in a vacuum. We look at glucose levels of particular foods when determining the glycemic index but we really rarely just eat those foods alone. Also, if you happen to be into the keto diet, it has it’s advantages, but it’s REALLY rare that people are ACTUALLY “keto”. For most people and for most contemporary lifestyles, carbs are an absolute necessity. For those of you who really like to geek out on this stuff we’d love to talk to you about it.
We all live in Boise and we are all at Verdant CrossFit so please come ask if you have questions. If you are following the ketogenic diet please don’t take this as an attack on you. We assume you did your research and you are in the very small percentage of people that know what they are doing.
How Does the Week 4 Challenge Work?
Newbie: Your focus is on ADDING smart carbs to your existing menu. Don’t worry as much about eliminating anything from your diet.
Men: Eat 2 cupped handfuls of quality carbs at each major meal. Women: Eat 1 cupped handful of quality carbs at each major meal.
Ninja: Do what the newbies are doing AND do the “Papa Beaty Special” – restrict refined sugar and flour intake ie, restrict “crappy” carb sources.
Strategies for Making it Happen:
- Make Quality Carb Substitutes
Step 1: Examine your current daily menu. What meals are completely lacking carbs? What meals include refined, processed carbs?
Step 2: How can you add quality carbs to your existing menu? How can you improve the quality of the carbs you already eat? What alternative foods might you replace for old standbys?