Nutrition for Real People, Based on Real Science
Welcome to my second blog entry! For this one, I’m gonna touch on some science-based nutrition that is very important and VERY HELPFUL, but not widely known. Be ready to change the way you think about food!
One of the biggest misconceptions ever created by the health and wellness INDUSTRY is that carbs are bad for you. I really emphasize “industry” because that is exactly what it is (usually) for the people giving you advice, offering you products, and eventually guiding your ideas on proper nutrition and fitness. These people make money off of you! They really have an invested interest in what you believe and, in turn, the products or “gimmicks” you buy into. You are constantly inundated with influences instead of getting true information that will allow you to make sound decisions.
First, I have to say that I’m not a scientist. I’m also not a doctor, physical therapist, or even a personal trainer. But I am a Nationally Registered Paramedic and a person that has done A LOT of research and attempted many different things, both successful and resoundingly unsuccessful, in my journey to healthy living.
I’m also not trying to make money off of your purchases.. so.. that helps!
So now it is with my own personal experiences and knowledge that I come to you, the first of my readers, in an attempt to answer some big questions and eliminate bad, biased information.
So, why is it wrong to spread the word that Carbohydrates are to be avoided like the plague?!
Because you need carbs to live.. That’s why!!
“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed” – Julius Mayer, 1842.
The Law of the Conservation of Energy.
Our bodies cannot create energy. We eat for energy! We convert food into energy through a process called Aerobic Respiration in which a food molecule, Glucose, is broken down into a series of steps to form another molecule that can be used inside of our cells (called ATP, if you want to look into this!). Without this process, we can not create energy. We can’t feed our organs, our muscles, or even our brain. Without Glucose, we would literally die, people! Without ENOUGH Glucose, we would be sluggish, weak, slower in our thought processes, and slower in our cellular repair. Sound familiar??? Sounds like a week on a low carb diet, to me!
Now, guess what Glucose is, from a nutrient standpoint? Oh yes, my friend, it’s a Carb.
How do they get away with it?! How do the people trying to persuade you to buy their products get away with telling you to stop eating something that you need to survive?? How did Adkins convince thousands of Americans???
They didn’t explain shit:
Now that you know you NEED CARBS, let’s talk about what, exactly, a carbohydrate is and how to factor them into your daily nutrition.
There are 3 Nutrients in our diets that we need every single day: Protein, Carbs, and Fats. Each of these is necessary for life and they are called Macro-Nutrients because of the large (macro) amount we need to consume each day.
Protein is used to build and repair muscle tissue, make hormones, enzymes, and other body chemicals.
Fats are used for cellular growth and development, transporting nutrients, storage of excess glucose for later use, and secondary fuel if your carb intake is low.
Carbohydrates are comprised of 3 main “types” of the same molecules – simple carbs (granulated sugar), cellulose (veggies and fruits), and complex carbs (certain grains like rye, quinoa, and oats). Each is used as fuel for the body and mind, but they have very different short- and long-term effects. The simple carbs garner most of their carb-load from sugar, which is a small glucose-chain structure that is broken down quickly in the body. This causes a spike in blood sugar, producing that “sugar high” and leaving you feeling hungry shortly after eating. They are also typically void of all nutrients, which is why they are often called “empty calories”.
In contrast, complex carbs are long-chain glucose structures that are nutrient dense. They take longer to break down, keeping you full for longer, and provide your body with Fiber, a key nutrient for digestion and absorption.
This does not mean that one is “GOOD” for you and one is “BAD” for you, just that they are absorbed differently and an understanding of this will help keep you from overeating and to achieve a balanced diet.
Keep in mind: Carbs consumed in excess
(more than your body requires for daily functions and exercise)
are stored in the body as FAT.
Let’s compare: an item marketed as “healthy” vs real fruit
1 Strawberry NutriGrain Bar 1 cup raw Strawberries
*Added sugar does not include natural sugars, which are processed like complex carbs.
**Fiber will keep you full, aid in digestion, and will not be stored in excess.
The NutriGrain Bar has always been marketed as a healthy snack option – it says “Nutri” in the name, it MUST be good!! However, in only one bar (which, let’s face it, isn’t enough for anyone) 11g (grams) of the carbs provided are added sugars with no beneficial nutrients. The daily recommended intake for added sugar is 25g for a woman. This one bar is almost half! Not to mention, that only leaves 13g of carbs from whole grains to keep you full and satisfied.
You can eat an entire cup of fresh strawberries for almost ⅓ of the calories yet almost the same number of carbs from naturally derived sugars. And the nutrients; don’t even get me started!
Without knowing this difference, it is very easy to consume
carbs in excess while missing out on all the good stuff;
leaving you feeling bloated yet hungry,
OK, now what?:
I was lucky enough to find a pretty amazing website that goes into MUCH more detail than I have offered you here and explains how Proteins and Fats are balanced with carbs for a well-rounded diet. This is called Macro Counting and it allows you to fine-tune and tailor your own diet according to your specific needs.
The website, If It Fits Your Macros, taught me so much more than I could have hoped for! They have a team of coaches ready to calculate your macro-blueprint and help you in whatever goal you have set for yourself, be it losing fat, gaining muscle, or just being a healthier you!
NOTE : I do not receive any compensation for mentioning this website or its affiliates, this is just something I truly believe in and I would love to spread the wealth of knowledge they have to offer!
Macro counting and whether or not it is right for you is also explained here.
If nothing else, I hope this article opens a dialogue in your own mind about the foods you are eating and what BENEFIT they actually have for your body. If you’re going to consume calories and carbs, they might as well be adding something to your already amazing body systems, right?!? Good luck, everyone!
If you want to see what “a day in the life of Macro Counting” looks like, I am currently participating in a body-transformation competition through IIFYM and am attempting to nail my macros every day. I’ll be periodically blogging about this and will add a Forum post so you guys can see my progress; maybe it’s for you, too!
Thanks for all of your support, you guys are the best!