Should I Avoid Carbs? Try my “Triple C Method.”
Ask almost anyone that is wanting to lose a few pounds what their planned method is, and 9 times out of 10 you will hear them reply with, “I’m going to just cut back on carbs.”
While reducing carbs may be needed for some in order to lose weight, it is important to keep in mind that carbohydrates are most certainly NOT the enemy.
You need carbs for energy, as carbs are your body’s main fuel source. You need carbs for protecting against disease, as the fiber found in whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruits reduces risk of heart disease, protects against obesity and type 2 diabetes, and is essential for optimal digestive health. How much carbs? We will discuss that soon.
(Let me first note, when attempting to make any type of dietary changes, or weight changes, I must first recommend that you check with your Physician and get a full physical. You need to first know if there are any other underlying issues or disease that may be contributing to your health concerns or goals. Once you have medical clearance then you can develop a plan based on the information you have been given.)
For today’s topic on Carbs, I am going to review a few tips I call the Triple C Method: when to Count carbs, when to Convert carbs, and when to Cut carbs.
When to Count Carbs:
After getting your medical clearance, it’s time to start tracking what you are eating, so you can identify where you might be eating the wrong amount of carbs based on your activity, eating the wrong type of carbs (simple or complex), or in some cases, you may be under medical direction to reduce your carbs based on an illness or disease.
I can say with certainty that most of the time, even the most prepared individual usually under or overestimates what they are actually eating in the course of a day. By tracking the quantity of your food and macronutrients (protein/fat/carb) in a food journal, you will have a more accurate picture, so you know what you are working with.
I like to use myfitnesspal.com for food journaling. For me it is one of the easiest apps to use for tracking what you eat, as well as you can create recipes in the app to get macronutrients based on a portion size of an entire recipe rather that each individual item.
When to Convert Carbs:
After tracking what you eat, you may find you have a high amount of simple carbs in your diet. This is not uncommon as the Standard American Diet is loaded with simple carbs. Some examples of simple carbs are white breads, white pastas, white sugar, instant oats, chips, white rice, some types of crackers, some types of cereals, sugary drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, cookies, cakes, candy, fast food, and the list goes on.
Simple carbs are very rarely helpful to your overall nutrition. However, in some cases, simple carbs can be helpful to very active persons or athletes in need of quick energy for their workout or sport, for recovery after their workout or sport, or for a person who is diabetic or hypoglycemic and having an extreme low blood sugar episode and needs quick sugar for emergency response. Simple carbs have a medium to high glycemic index, usually greater than 55 on the Glycemic Index scale.
If you find that you are eating simple carbs, and not for the reasons listed above, then it’s time to consider converting your simple carbs to complex carbs. Complex carbs are foods like whole grains, legumes, sweet potato, whole grain pasta, brown rice, whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole grain cereals, whole nuts, and whole seeds. They are slower digesting, and therefore have lower glycemic index when eating providing a more sustained energy source.
When to Cut Carbs:
Once you have gone through the first two steps, you may realize that you are overeating your daily recommended amount of carbs. If that is the case, then it’s time to adjust your portions.
This can be a bit of trial and error, as depending on your daily activities, you may need to fuel a workout or high stress project and carbs are essential for that. Cutting small amounts each meal is the best way to go. Eating balanced meals throughout the day is the best way to keep a steady flow of energy and nutrients to support your basic needs and keep insulin regulated, avoiding the dreaded “crash.”
However, if you have periods of time throughout the day where you are very sedentary, and then you have a high activity workout, you may want to time your carbs to suit your daily activity. In some cases, it can work well to have a small portion of carbs with your breakfast, and lunch, then a large portion for your afternoon pre-workout snack, and then a smaller portion again at dinner to help with recovery. If you need help with timing your carbs, ladies- schedule a consult with me, or men- schedule a consult with Brian and we can help detail a plan specific to your needs.
How many carbohydrates do you need? According to Mayo Clinic, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. (This percentage can be adjusted in myfitnesspal.com to help track your total each day)
So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day. The percentage that is right for you, depends on your activity. If you are very active, you will need closer to the higher percentage, if you are very sedentary, you will need towards the lower percentage.
Now, in some cases a Dr. will recommend that you eat very small amounts of carbs in the course of a day, such as Keto diet. This should be under direct supervision of a Dr. and is for specific medical reasons. Please consult your physician before attempting to try this type of nutrition plan.
In closing, try not to over complicate the simple joy of just eating real foods. Portion control, and a variety of nutrient dense, real foods are the key to fueling your body in a healthy and satisfying way. My goal in sharing this info is to equip you with knowledge so you can move forward with a plan that is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
If you need more help, we are here for that. You can schedule a free consult whenever you are ready. If you want more, we can schedule regular small group, or individual coaching sessions to help get you on the course you need to reach your goals!
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Publishing, H. (n.d.). A good guide to good carbs: The glycemic index. Retrieved September 16, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/a-good-guide-to-good-carbs-the-glycemic-index
Choose your carbs wisely. (2020, April 17). Retrieved September 16, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705