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Carbs Aren't The Bad Guy

Posted: September 22, 2015
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In recent times, we’ve often heard that part of eating well means cutting carbs—“carbs are bad for you.” But then again, aren’t carbohydrates one of the three essential macronutrients?  Are there some carbs that are ok?  If so, how do we know which ones?

Here is Peter of Deliberate Nutrition and Fitness to shed some light on the matter:

Historically, we tend to villain-ize things depending on the trend going around. In the nutrition world this was fat for a period of time. Saturated fat had its run as the “villain” that was thought to cause obesity and heart disease. Fortunately that trend has gone away and people have realized that an appropriate amount of saturated fat in their diet is not only ok, but necessary for optimal health.

Unfortunately, the nutrition world couldn’t leave well enough alone; carbohydrates seem to have taken the role of villain. If you ask many of the “internet experts” out there, they’ll let you know that carbohydrates have caused the surge in obesity and lifestyle related diseases.

While it’s certainly true that carbohydrates in the form of refined sugar and processed food has played a large role in many of the weight and health issues our country is facing, to lump all carbohydrates into this category is not a great approach. In fact, it’s a bad approach.

Just like protein is an essential part of our diet, carbohydrates are as well. Appropriate carbohydrate consumption is essential to optimizing our health, performance, and body composition.

Super Food Carbohydrates

Fruits and Vegetables: Eat with every meal!

Salad greens – Tomatoes – Broccoli – Cabbage – Cauliflower – Brussels Sprouts – Berries – Oranges – Apples – Bananas – Pears

Starchy Carbohydrates: Eat after workouts.

Mixed Beans – Wild rice – Quinoa – Whole oats – Sweet Potatoes – Beets – Corn

Level 2 Starchy Carbs

The following are not quite as good as the Super Food Starchy Carbohydrates listed above, but can be ok if you tolerate them well.

White rice – Potatoes – Sprouted or Whole Grain Pastas – Sprouted or Whole Grain Breads

Sugary Carbs

Eating sweet and sugary food is very much a part of our culture, but it’s also a big time contributing factor to many lifestyle related diseases, including obesity and type II diabetes. It’s ok to splurge every so often on these foods, but it should be kept at a minimum. The best time to eat these simple carbohydrates is immediately after exercise, if at all. They should be considered treats, not staples of your diet.

Desserts – Fruit Juice – Breakfast Cereal – Ice Cream – Bagels – Muffins – Refined Sugar – Soda – Sports Drinks – Most Commercial Nutrition Bars – Dates – Figs – Raisins – Dried Fruits – Most Breads – All Other Processed Foods

How Much?

At this point you are probably wondering what’s an “appropriate” amount of carbohydrates. Well, you may not like the answer because…it depends! I can’t give you a black and white answer, but here’s what I will tell you:

  • Certain people “tolerate” a higher carb diet better than others. This basically just means they have a metabolism that runs at a pretty high level and primarily uses carbohydrates for energy. These people are typically lean, wiry, and seem to have energy for days. They should probably have a higher carb diet as their baseline, while people who don’t tolerate carbs as well should have a higher fat diet as a baseline and be strategic around the type and when they consume carbs.
  • A good starting point is to use your hand as your guide, until you figure out what works best for you.
  • I don’t typically like to use the term “earn” when it comes to nutrition, but I think in this case it fit’s pretty well. When we are in a high intensity training session, our body is mostly (though not completely) utilizing a carbohydrate driven energy system. This means that workouts, like The Grind, need carbohydrates to fuel them optimally. Eating starchier carbohydrates around the time of your workouts is a good plan. No workout that day? Have a double dose of vegetables instead!

Nutrition can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! Focus most of your meals around the super foods listed above, accompanying a good protein source! After your daily Grind at Farmgirlfit, go ahead and get some starchy carbs to replace the energy you just spent. If you’re not working out, make sure you get your veggies (a double dose).  Need a “cheat” meal? Try to get a good hard workout beforehand to limit the damage.

As always, if you're feeling overwhelmed when thinking about nutrition and need help, I would LOVE to work with you! Call or email me and we can discuss your best option!

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