Find out if carbohydrates are dominating your diet

Let’s be clear, when I say “diet” I am not referring to any specific diet.  I am talking daily dietary intake.  And no, I am not about to bash carbs.  They play a very important role in our physiology.  Carbs absolutely have a place in our daily intake of foods.  However, most American diets are carb dominate.  The majority of these carbs are not from whole foods, they are highly processed and come out of a box.

I find it interesting when a person says they consider their diet as high protein/low carb.  But when meals are tracked via an app such as My Fitness Pal or My Macros+ that is not the case at all.  More times than not carbs dominate over protein.

Until you know how to utilize carbs for your benefit, you will be stuck with no energy due to unstable blood sugar spiking high and crashing low.  You are left constantly feeling “hangry” and tired.  For most, highly processed is the carb of choice like bread, chips, pasta, cookies, crackers, soda, fancy sugar loaded coffees, etc.

Carbs

However, eating these types of carbs at every meal will result in weight gain due to the overage consumption flowing into our fat stores.  Unless you have a very high metabolism, most of us cannot get away with eating this way without having major consequences.  Continuing down this path for an extended period of time will lead to uncontrolled blood sugar, unresponsive metabolism, increased LDL cholesterol, and a possible diagnosis of Type II Diabetes.

AWARENESS IS KEY! Let’s start by looking at your food choices.  Before diving into your meals, stop and evaluate what all is on your plate.

  1. Where is the protein?
  2. Where is the carb?
  3. Where is the fat?

Many of us will find there is very little to no protein on our plates or in our daily food choices.  We reach for the carbs and think they will get us through until our next meal.  But we don’t associate feeling like crap and getting irritable with our choice of food type.  We feel depleted, starved and cannot wait until the next meal, so we reach for a snack.  We choose another carb and continue to spiral downward.

So how do we make positive changes in our diet to get off of this vicious carb cycle?  If your diet mostly consists of highly processed carbs, you are more than likely addicted to them.  Recognizing this is the first step to making lasting changes.  Understanding the difference of a processed carb and unprocessed carb is essential to knowing when and where to place these in your diet.

Examples of Process Carbs:

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Soda
  • Granola Bars
  • Gummy Fruit Snacks
  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Pastries
  • Microwavable Popcorn
  • Boxed Dinners (Hamburger Helper, Mac N Cheese, etc.)
  • Canned Foods or Vegetables (watch for sodium content)

Examples of Unprocessed Carbs

  • Fresh or Frozen Vegetables
  • Whole Grains (Unprocessed Rice, Quinoa, Whole Oats, Millet, Buckwheat etc.)
  • Whole Grain or Sprouted Bread
  • Legumes
  • Fresh Fruit

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So how do we go about changing our diet in way that does not completely overwhelm us?

  1. Increase your protein intake at each meal STAT!!  Protein is hugely important for our energy levels and will prevent those nasty midday crashes.  Shoot for at least 4-6 oz. of lean protein (Eggs, Chicken, Turkey, Seafood, lean cuts of Beef and Pork) at each meal.
  2. Slowly start replacing processed carbs with unprocessed carbs at each meal.  Choose 1 meal per week to modify.  In the next 3-5 weeks you will start to see more balance in your overall meal choices.
  3. Learn how carbs work with your body type

How do you know what your body type is?

Below explains how to categorize your body type and when to fit carbs into your daily intake.  Pay close attention to ratios of veggies to fruit and nutrient timing of starchy/sugary snacks or treats.

There are three categories of body type:

Somotype

Carbohydrate Timing per Body Type:

Ectomorph:  Carb Tolerance is excellent and has a hard time gaining weight.  Ectomorphs are typically great endurance athletes.

  • Include 3 servings of vegetables and 1 serving of fruit at each meal
  • Of the vegetable servings some starchy, whole-grain unprocessed carbs can be eaten at each meal
  • Starchy/sugary (processed) carbs to be consumed during/after moderate to intense exercise
  • Eat within 1-2 hours prior to exercise and 1-2 hours after exercise

Endomorph:  Carb tolerance is poor and has a hard time losing weight and gains fat easily.  Endomorphs are typically excellent at STRENGTH training as they are naturally strong.

  • Include 5 servings of vegetables and 1 serving of fruit at each meal
  • Starchy/sugary (processed) carbs to be consumed during/after moderate to intense exercise.
  • Eat within 1-2 hours prior to exercise and 1-2 hours after exercise

Mesomorph:  Carb tolerance is moderate and gains muscle easily but can also gain fat easily too.  Mesomorphs are typically excellent at bodybuilding and STRENGTH training.

  • Include 4 servings of vegetables and 1 serving of fruit at each meal
  • Starchy, whole-grain unprocessed carbs can be eaten moderately throughout the day
  • Starchy/sugary (processed) carbs to be consumed during/after moderate to intense exercise
  • Eat within 1-2 hours prior to exercise and 1-2 hours after exercise

Why is it recommended to only eat starchy/sugary processed carbs after exercise?  This is because your body has been depleted and this type of carb is metabolized quickly, therefore your body is in optimal position to quickly utilize the carbs to restore glycogen levels and not flow over into fat stores. This helps the body to recover energy levels faster.

With that being said if you have the occasional pasta, donut or ice cream without exercising first, don’t stress.  Only when consumed without exercise on a regular basis is when it will wreak havoc on your body.

To recap:

  • Figure out your body type
  • Increase protein intake at each meal
  • Replace processed carbs with unprocessed carbs slowly, choose 1 meal each week to modify
  • Consume starchy/sugary carbs during/after exercise in small to moderate portions depending on intensity level of exercise
  • Carbs at each meal should contain a ratio of vegetables to fruits (refer back to body type)

Understanding your body type and how it handles carbs is hugely important for your overall health and physique goals.   By implementing the outlined strategies, you will begin to have more energy to fuel your day and workout!

THE POINT IS TO MAKE CARBS WORK FOR YOUR BODY, NOT TO MAKE YOUR BODY WORK FOR CARBS!