Crackin' Down on Carbs

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Biscuits, Cheetos, Chips, Cookies, Ice cream, Moon Pies, Cakes, Cokes, Wine, Beer.
How many of you have tried to cut these out in order to lose weight?

Yogurt, Milk, Beans, Bananas, Apples, Carrots, Oatmeal.
How many of you have tried to cut these out in order to lose weight?

Eh, it’s all relative.

Low-carb diets.  Are they fad or functional?  Tried and true or torture?  Functional Torture is likely the response you’ll get from most people.  The response from me: Fad Torture.  We are runners, athletes, lovers of our bodies.  This is why we’re always so concerned about what we’re putting into our bodies.  That’s why we go on “diets”.  I mean, who has had a milkshake and never said, “I did not need that milkshake.”  We care.  And I care.  And that is why I’m going to instruct you to properly love carbs!

It’ll help by first understanding the low-carb diet and why it refuses to drop off the face of the earth along with the grapefruit and Atkins diets.
Purpose:  Weight Loss
Theory:  Increased carbs = Increased insulin output (correct so far…)
Insulin decreases fat breakdown (like…what?)
So, decreased insulin = increased fat breakdown (because what else are you going to use as energy?)
But!
Actuality:  
Think of your body as a well-maintained car.  Carbs are the gas.  WHY on EARTH would you put anything else in your car to run it off of?!  YOU WOULDN’T!  You wouldn’t let it run out of gas and assume it will burn oil to get you down the road.  Or antifreeze.  Or windshield wiper fluid.  As my dad says, “Now that’s just asinine”.  Don’t be asinine.
Once your body burns through carbohydrates as energy, it switches to fat — a secondary, less efficient source.  By using that secondary source, there is less available energy, therefore you slow down and actually burn less calories than if you had the optimal fuel source — carbohydrates.In fact, your body is only able to sustain a 60% effort once glycogen stores are too low (the gas light is on).  Say sianara to that PR!

But why do I lose weight when I cut carbs?!
Well, have you thought about what you’re ultimately doing by cutting carbs?  Cutting calories.  In most circumstances, more calories burned than consumed results in weight loss.  And you’ve heard the first few pounds are water weight.  Well, there’s a lot of truth to that.  Every gram of carbohydrate holds 4 molecules of water.  As your glycogen stores begin depleting, water goes with it.

And then there’s the clean eating trend!
So if I want you to eat carbs, what on earth are clean carbs?!  Rice, Ezekial Bread, Beans, Potatoes, and my favorite:  FRUIT!  Nothing sends me over the edge like inadequately educated people who think they’re doing their body a justice by cutting out fruit.  Cut rice, cut bread, go “Paleo” (don’t even get me started) and cut beans, but  DON’T CUT FRUIT!!  There is nothing else to fill the gas tank with than carbohydrates.  Nothing.  Not protein.  Not fat.  Not vitamins.  Not water.  Carbohyyyydraaates!!  Fruit is loaded with antioxidants that help battle the muscle damaging free radicals that are released during endurance exercise.  Eat it.

So if I have to eat carbs, how do I lose weight?
While I am not a dietitian, most dietitians will tell you that in order to lose weight, you’ll want to cut your CALORIE (not carbohydrate) intake by at least 10% and continue to fuel your body with good quality carbohydrates.

And how many of these carbs do I get to consume?
If you’re doing at least a moderate exercise or have an active occupation, you need ~2.5-3g/lb of body weight.  Up the intensity, up the carbs.  And by up, I mean double! I’ll leave the math up to you! :)

How do I choose them?
Well, let’s break this down.  First, it’s dependent upon if you are training or not.  Generally, treat every day as if you are not training.  Be conscious of what you are putting in your body under the assumption that you may not get your workout in.  Choose whole grains, beans, fruit, dairy, and starchy vegetables.  If you’re like myself and MUST have a treat, hold off until dinner.  By then, you may be able to tell yourself no or analyze what you’ve had the rest of the day and determine whether or not it’s a wise choice and can make it fit!
If you are training, keep a stock of simple carbohydrates for quick and effective fueling.  These are most easy to absorb during your workout (and before and after).  Choose from gels, chews/chomps, blocks, and sports drinks such as Hammer Heed.  What is important when choosing these is to look at the sugar content.  They will often be high in carbohydrates, but low in sugar.  The higher the sugar content in your stomach, the more water that is drawn to it.  This excess water in the gut is often times what causes gastrointestinal distress while on the run.

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The left photo is Hammer Heed, the right photo is Gatorade.  Notice the sugar content.  Ever wondered why Gatorade, Powerade, etc bothers your stomach?  Problem solved!

Just Tell me what to buy!
Okay, okay.  Here’s your grocery list:
Whole fruits
Canned fruits (in water, not syrup — for a low fiber top off before heading out)
Applesauce
Greek Yogurt
Low Fat Chocolate Milk (skip the added protein kinds.  They’re chock full of garbage)
Skim Milk
Pretzels
Ezekial Bread
Oats
Rice
Quinoa
Potatoes
Corn (post-run.  You know corn…)
Peas
Carrots
Bean
Lentils
Chickpeas

Side Note:  Carbohydrates do not make you fat.  Fat makes you fat.  Excess calories make you fat.
There are
4 calories per gram of carbohydrate
4 calories per gram of protein
9 calories per gram of fat
7 calories per gram of alcohol

Pick your poison, and carbohydrates don’t have to be it!!

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