Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Take on Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Low Carbs, and all of the Carb BS
by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
With so much talk, confusion, and controversy in recent years about "carbs", I wanted to give you my take on good carbs vs bad carbs, low carb, and all the other "carb confusion" out there.  I'll also show you one of my favorite healthy carbohydrate choices.
First of all, although I'm not a "low carb" extremist, I do believe that one of the main reasons so many people struggle to ever lose any body fat is that they are overconsuming processed carbohydrates such as:

  • cereals
  • pasta
  • rice
  • bagels
  • muffins
  • breads (even whole grain varieties are not ideal if you're looking to lose body fat)
  • sodas
  • juices
  • candies
  • crackers
It is extremely hard to lose body fat if you're overconsuming any of these types of carbohydrates (even if you workout very hard). In addition to causing wild blood sugar swings and insulin surges which can promote body fat deposition, eating too many carbs also increases your appetite and cravings.
Note that I didn't include potatoes in the list of processed carbohydrates. Despite the trash talking they get from many fitness professionals, I think whole potatoes (not fries or chips!) are a nutrient-dense healthy food.
Even carbohydrate sources that most people think are "healthy" really are just excess calories that don't really deliver a whole lot of nutrient density... and many types of breads and cereals pretend to be "whole grain" with clever marketing while in reality the first ingredient in them is refined flour, which is just going to shoot your blood sugar through the roof.
My take on it is that the majority of people struggling to lose body fat would do much better following these types of carb guidelines:
1. Reduce your grain-based carb products in the diet (cereal, pasta, rice, crackers, etc) and focus more of the diet on healthy grass-fed and/or free-range meats and eggs, grass-fed raw dairy, and TONS of vegetables and fruits.  I understand that it's very hard for most people to give up entirely their breads, cereals, and pastas.  But don't worry, just save the grain-based carbs for a 1-day per week "cheat day", and you can still do just fine!
2. Instead of the grains for most of the carbs, try getting most of your carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and a variety of whole fruits and berries (NOT fruit juices, which remove the beneficial fiber as well as other essential parts of the fruit).
3.  If you're going to eat any grains at all, focus on the most nutrient dense and fibrous portions of the grain... the germ and bran... this means that the best parts are getting oat bran instead of oatmeal, and using rice bran to add to your yogurt, cottage cheese, salads, soups, etc.  This way you get all of the most beneficial nutritious parts of grains without all of the excess starches and calories. 
Note on wheat germ --  although wheat germ is a nutrient dense food (compared to the nutrient-poor starch portion of wheat), beware of the gluten in wheat if you have any intolerance.  Many people have wheat/gluten intolerances and don't even realize it.  It could be worth it to get tested to see how your body is handling wheat.
Also, for best results with grains in general, try to stick only to sprouted grain products if you're going to eat any grains at all.  The sprouting of grains helps to eliminate some of the "anti-nutrients" in some grains, and also improves digestion of those grains.
4. To replace the void if you're used to consuming lots of bread, pasta, cereals, and other carb sources... try filling that void with more healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, nut butters as well as healthy proteins such as raw grass-fed dairy and meats, whole free-range organic eggs, etc. Healthy fats and proteins go a long way to satisfying your appetite, controlling proper hormone and blood sugar levels, and helping you to make real progress on fat loss.
With all of that said, here's one of my favorite carb sources that is high in fiber as well as tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:
Sweet potatoes or yams
I always choose the orange varieties instead of the white varieties of sweet potatoes. One of the problems with sweet potatoes is the time it takes to bake a sweet potato for 1 to 1.5 hrs.
I cook my sweet potatoes in a different way that only takes 5 minutes and they come out delicious... and no, I would NEVER use a microwave (I talk more about why never to use a microwave to cook your foods in this article).
The easiest and quickest way I've found to cook up a sweet potato is to slice it up into thin slivers and put it into a pan that you can cover with a lid.  I add a touch of butter, virgin coconut oil (beneficial medium chain triglycerides), and about 3-4 Tbsp of water and simmer with a covered lid for about 5 minutes. 
When the sweet potatoes are soft, then add a little cinnamon and maybe a touch of the natural sweetener stevia (if you want a little more sweet flavor) and you're all set with a delicious healthy carb side dish to go with any meat dish.  Add a side salad and you've got the perfect lean-body meal plan.
And by all means, feel free to give your friends, family, and co-workers the favor of better health and fitness by emailing these links to them. I'm sure they will appreciate the good info.
Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder - & Busy Man Fitness .com
Best Exercises for Skiers

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