Why We Need Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are essential for life. The brain and nervous system require a continual supply of glucose. When dietary carbohydrate supply is low, lean mass will be used for energy.
The American Dietetic Association established a minimum daily requirement of 130 grams of carbohydrates. Of course, size, activity level and other micronutrients intake will affect this daily requirement. Let’s look at a runner. If a marathon runner only ate 130 grams of carbs a day they would use their already low muscle mass for energy, becoming weak and sick.
130 grams for someone like me, petite, may keep them from obtaining a six-pack. Using the right amount of carbohydrates, at the right time and using specific carbohydrates are what will make you your absolute leanest. The best part is that the leanness is sustainable and if you add a couple of unwanted pounds on a bad weekend or vacation it will only take a few tweaks to get you back to bikini ready!
I believe most people, myself included, use foods for comfort instead of for energy. I love to eat and I often make food a social event. Many of us food lovers abuse the use of carbohydrates using them as a stimulant, rather than to fuel our brian and nervous system. When is the last time you felt sluggish and thought of a carb-loaded snack to boost your energy levels?
Truth be told, fat is a major contributor to sotiety and does an outstanding job at keeping you from hitting that mid-afternoon wall…more on fat tomorrow.
Your Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index is a measure of the effect of food on blood-sugar levels. If a food is high on the GI scale, it means that food will cause your blood sugars to rise quickly after ingesting the meal. With a spike in blood sugar, insulin is signaled and storage is inevitable.
Fruits and non-starchy vegetables will not be discussed today as these are vital for optimal health and wellness. Instead, we will discuss starchy complex carbohydrates that play a key role in energy and recovery. Use these foods for those two purposes around your workouts and you will have a very successful training and nutrition program.
My Top 5 Carbohydrate Choices For Stripping Fat
This grain-like crop is my absolute favorite food! Quinoa is appreciated for its nutritional value as a complete protein, dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also GLUTEN-FREE and can be used in so many recipes.
Magnesium – this mineral helps relax blood vessels, decreasing incidence of migraines and also helps prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Iron- Iron is an essential mineral that is required for human life. Not having enough iron can lead to anemia. The most common symptoms of anemia are weakness and fatigue — one reason people who are iron deficient get tired easily is because their cells don’t get enough oxygen. Pregnant women, young women during their reproductive years and children tend to be at the highest risk of iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia in children is associated with poor neurodevelopment.
FUN FACT: this crop is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables and has recently been reported to be better for you than vegetables.
Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C and vitamin B6. Pink, yellow and green varieties are high in carotene. Sweet potatoes have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory qualities and have the ability to actually improve blood sugar levels.
FUN FACT: The softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America. The sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called a yam, which is native to Africa and Asia . In North America, both titles are displayed for the orange vegetable (Wikipedia Foundation, Inc)
This whole grain is far superior to white rice as it still contains the germ and bran layer that contains fiber, magnesium, vitamin B1 and B3, and also iron. One cup of brown rice will provide you with 88% of your daily value of magnesium.
Oatmeal is rich in fiber, selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, vitamin B1, magnesium and also contain protein. Oatmeal can lower blood cholesterol because of its soluble fiber content. Oatmeal is rich in soluble and non-soluble fiber.
Insoluble Fiber- absorbs water for easier passage through the intestines and allows for easier passage of stool.
Soluble Fiber- breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract, forming a gel that traps substances responsible for increasing cholesterol.
FUN FACT: Instant oatmeal is pre-cooked and dried, usually with sweetener and flavouring added.
Legumes have significant amounts of fiber and are also high in protein, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron. Beans have been proven to fight cancer, benefit people with diabetes and help to lower cholesterol.
FUN FACT: Legumes contain relatively low quantities of the essential amino acid methionine. To compensate, some vegetarian cultures serve legumes along with grains, which are low in the essential amino acid lysine, which legumes contain (Wikipedia Foundation, Inc).