CARBOHYDRATE FOOD FACTS
It pays to be clear on your carbohydrate food facts because there are carbohydrates that lend themselves to endurance athletes and some that don’t.
Many people are unaware of the carbohydrate food facts that are essential to know about if they are considering either a low carb diet or a high carb diet.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT CARBOHYDRATES DO
First of all, I am not a nutritional expert. The information I am sharing has been learned over 30 years of experimenting with every type of diet imaginable when I was trying for optimal performance as an endurance athlete.
Over the years I have come to believe that carbohydrates are the key to optimum athletic performance regardless of what your sport is.
All the carbohydrate food facts I have learned and am sharing with you has been learned through my own experimentation in race conditions and research I have done for over 3 decades.
SO ARE CARBOHYDRATES EVIL OR NOT?
So just who are you supposed to believe? First it’s fats that are evil and should be avoided like the plague. However as North America finds itself in the midst of an obesity crisis that spawns all sorts of diseases, it is once again targeting carbohydrates as the cause of the problem.
It always seems that one food group or another is being blamed for the obesity and health-related problems that are plaguing North American society.
Does it really make sense to target carbohydrates as the cause of obesity health problems?
Most people have no idea about important carbohydrate food facts so perhaps a good starting point would be to define carbohydrates and what they do from my own prospective as a long-time endurance athlete.
SO WHAT DO CARBOHYDRATES DO?
Regardless of what type of carbohydrate you eat, they will all eventually convert to sugar in your bloodstream.
The main thing to be aware of is that some are converted to sugar much faster than others. That’s why you hear the terms “Complex Carbohydrates” and “Simple Carbohydrates” all the time.
They are called simple because they are simple to convert as sugar into the bloodstream because they basically “are” sugar-loaded foods. For instance candies, ice cream, soda, chocolate bars, and all other sweet treats are just a few examples of simple carbohydrates.
So of all the carbohydrate food facts you learn or diets you plan to go on, it’s essential to keep simple carbohydrates to a minimum. I agree with that 100%.
These simple carbohydrates are quickly turned into sugar in the blood. Something has to be done to manage this sugar so the pancreas creates insulin which in turn directs the sugar into cells where it can be stored as fuel. This fuel is called “glycogen.”
This will work great for a while, but eventually our bodies cannot handle all the simple carbohydrates it is being asked to assimilate. Finally our cells give up and can’t keep up with the storing instructions from the insulin. So the pancreas creates more insulin to try and keep up.
One of the most important carbohydrate food facts to remember is that it takes more and more insulin to move the same amount of glucose into the cells. Finally the Pancreas just gives up and diabetes is the result.
Some early signs are weight gain, high blood pressure, and low HDL in both men and women.
However, eating the proper carbohydrates is essential to fuel our bodies, so that’s why I don’t agree with an “across the board” low carb diet. What makes more sense to me is to learn what carbs you should eat and what carbs you should avoid.
To me complex carbohydrates are not only essential, but are the key to optimum performance, energy, and endurance for athletes no matter what the sport happens to be.
They are called complex for a reason. They take much more time for the body to assimilate. So in effect the pancreas does not become over-worked in the creation of insulin that eventually results in the glucose that supplies our energy.
There is a huge difference between a piece of chocolate cake or bowl of ice-cream and a slice of whole wheat bread or bowl of brown rice.
Whole grains are complex and an ideal choice for creating glycogen for fuel. The importance of complex carbohydrates as opposed to simple carbs as a food of choice is a key carbohydrate food fact.
Pasta, whole wheat bread, brown rice, yams, and potatoes were the corner-stone of my high carbohydrate diet during the years when I had my most success as an endurance athlete. In all those years I ate “tons” of these foods and maintained a steady weight of 150 pounds for 3 decades.
At the same time I avoided “simple carbohydrates” like the plague and that was another of the keys to my success as an endurance athlete.
THE EXPERTS ANSWER TO OBESITY PROBLEMS
So the brilliant alternative we are now getting from the experts is to simply go on a low-carb diet and all our obesity and poor health problems will be solved
I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree with it because it’s a sweeping statement that paints all carbohydrates with the same brush when simple and complex carbohydrates are completely different from each other and have different effects on our bodies.
It is so foolish to pick one food group and make it the scapegoat for people who are too lazy to get off the couch and exercise and who don’t have the sense to stay away from over-loading their bodies with simple carbohydrates.
Pretty much every diet in the world(and there are thousands of them)is more effective with a steady fitness regimen included along with that diet.
You can learn all there is to know about carbohydrate food facts, but if you are truly understanding what your are learning, you will soon realize the importance of exercise in the equation.
The “experts” seem to think that 25-27% of our diet should be carbohydrates.
As an athlete I had my best endurance race results(over 35 marathons and 11 Ironman Triathlon finishes)when I consumed between 60-70% complex carbohydrates.
The essential thing to remember is that I was training on a constant basis and was consistently burning off all those carbohydrate calories that are supposed to be so deadly.
So the person who is working out 3 or 4 times a week can probably do just fine and control their weight and stay healthy with 40% complex carbs, and 5% simple carbs in their diet and the other 55% of their food intake split between good quality fat and proteins.
A good yardstick and guide for this type of diet would be the Doctor Sears 40-30-30 diet. 40% carbs, 30% fat, and 30% protein is what many consider the perfect balance for most people.
Personally, I leaned more towards the Doctor Robert Haas “Eat To Win” diet of the 80’s that I found ideal for my endurance training and racing. On that diet I was consuming well over 60% carbohydrates most of the time. His book was instrumental in teaching me about carbohydrate food facts.
Read this on SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES
A further look into CARBOHYDRATES