Slow Carbohydrates Slash Risk

Slow Carbohydrates Slash Health Risks

Slow carbohydrates slash risk of colon and breast cancers.

Say what?

Slow Carbohydrates vs. Fast CarbohydratesSlow carbohydrates in various beans

Highly refined foods such as sugar and white flour are known as “fast carbohydrates“. Eating them makes your insulin levels spike. This spike can cause a metabolic disorder called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition already linked to heart disease.

There is more. A review of 225 scientific papers led a top cancer researcher to a powerful conclusion: Putting more slow  carbohydrates such as whole grains and beans into your diet may be the best way to slash your colon cancer risk.

Source: Journal of Nutrition

What Foods Are Considered Slow Carbohydrates?

Find some easy slow carbohydrate substitutions. Following are a few suggestions. Switch out the first food with the alternative The latter food is the slow carbohydrate food.

  • French bread for whole-wheat pita bread.
  • Rice Chex for Multi Bran Chex.
  • Water crackers for dark rye crisp bread.
  • Instant mashed potatoes for brown rice.
  • Instant rice for barley.
  • Vanilla wafers for oatmeal cookies.

Did you know?

Beans are an excellent, non-fat source of protein. Just one cup of beans provides as much as 16 grams of protein. Try some quick soak beans.

Quick-Soak Beans

If you can’t soak dry beans overnight, put them in a large pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 to 2 hours. Then cook according to recipe directions.

Glycemic Index and GI Foods

The Glycemic Index and GI Foods

The Glycemic Index (GI) was developed as a tool to help people with diabetes keep their blood glucose under control. Many diet programs base their carbohydrate choices entirely on the GI.  The argue that high GI foods are fattening and low GI foods are not. Unfortunately, the whole theory is oversimplified.  It causes more confusion to an already confusing subject.

Glycemic Index Chart
Glycemic Index Chart

 

According to advocates of the GI system, you should avoid foods high on the scale. These foods include rice cakes, carrots, potatoes, or grape juice. They are absorbed so rapidly they are more likely to convert to fat. Instead, we are urged to consume carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic Index. These foods include black eye peas, barley, oatmeal, peanuts, apples and beans. These foods absorb slowly.

The Glycemic (GI) Index GoofMashed Potatoes

There is an important mistake in using the Glycemic Index for carbohydrate choices. The Glycemic Index was developed based on eating carbohydrates by themselves in a fasted state. However, when carbohydrates are eaten in mixed meals that contain protein and some fat, the Glycemic Index loses its meaning entirely. The protein and fat slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates.

For example, mashed potatoes have a Glycemic Index near that of pure glucose. If you combine the potatoes with a chicken breast and broccoli, the GI of the entire meal is much lower than the potatoes alone. Rice cakes also have a high GI. But if you put a dab of peanut butter on them, the fat slows the absorption of the carbohydrates, lowering the GI.

Another goof:

Bowl of Ice CreamThe Glycemic Index was developed based on eating a food in the fasted state. We don’t always eat in a fasted state.

If low Glycemic Index foods were the key to fat loss, then you could eat ice cream and M & M’s and you would lose weight. There are more important factors than the GI, such as whether or not your carbohydrates are natural or processed.

To determine if a carbohydrate is natural and unrefined, ask yourself if the food in question came out of the ground or off the tree or plant and remains in its natural state. If the answer is yes, then you’ve got a natural, unrefined food.

Carbohydrates and Caffeine Refuel Muscles

Carbohydrates and Caffeine Refuel Muscles

Australian researchers found that athletes who consumed both carbohydrates and caffeine following a tough workout had 66 percent higher levels of glycogen that those who had only carbs. Glycogen is the muscle’s primary fuel source during exercise. The caffeine may help move glucose into the muscles, where it’s stored as glycogen until your next workout.  Together, carbohydrates and caffeine can refuel your muscles.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are part of a healthful diet. The AMDR for carbohydrates is 45 to 65 percent of total calories.

Sugars and starches (the carbohydrates) supply energy to the body in the form of glucose, which is the only energy source for red blood cells and is the preferred energy source for the brain, central nervous system, placenta, and fetus.

Choose carbohydrates wisely. Foods in the basic food groups that provide carbohydrates — fruits, vegetables, grains, and milk — are important sources of many nutrients.

Complex Carbs

 

Carbohydrates and caffeine refuel muscles
Carbohydrates and caffeine refuel muscles

Complex carbohydrates are also known as polysaccharides. Complex carbohydrates are formed when thousands of sugar molecules link together in long chains. These chains take longer to break down and digest than simple carbohydrates. There are two types of complex carbohydrates: Starchy and fibrous. Read more: Clearing Up Carbohydrate Confusion

Caffeine

Red Cup of Coffee
In 1958, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified caffeine as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). In 1987, the FDA reaffirmed its position that moderate caffeine intake produced no increased risk to health. In addition, both the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society have statements confirming the safety of moderate caffeine consumption. Although caffeine is sometimes characterized as “addictive,” moderate caffeine consumption is safe. Think of all the things that are so tasty with coffee – most are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates and caffeine make a great pair.

Glycogen

Glycogen comes from carbohydrates. Natural sugars (fruit, vegetables, milk) and complex carbohydrates (grains, cereal, pasta) are the best choices.

Glycogen is an important fuel reserve for several reasons. The controlled breakdown of glycogen and release of glucose increase the amount of glucose that is available between meals. Hence, glycogen serves as a buffer to maintain blood-glucose levels.

Glucose is virtually the only fuel used by the brain. The glucose from glycogen is a good source of energy for sudden, strenuous activity. Released glucose can provide energy in the absence of oxygen and can thus supply energy for anaerobic activity.

Just keep in mind that this type of post-workout diet is best following an intense training session; scarfing down all those calories after a leisurely stroll won’t help you control your weight.

In Summary

Carbohydrates and caffeine make energetic muscles! But don’t go overboard. Moderation is always they key to something like this working effectively.

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Low Carb High Carb

Low Carb High Carb

First, carbohydrates were said to be the food of choice for high energy and athletic performance. Then we were taught to eat low carb. Because carbohydrates are bad and will make us fat. Lo and behold, low carbohydrate dieting went mainstream and a sort of  diet battle began. For everyone who says eating a low carbohydrate diet is the ultimate diet, there is another person with the opposite opinion.

Comforting Carbohydrates

Who is right? Low Carb Lovers of High Carb Lovers?

Well, the answer to that is somewhere in the middle. In fact, it could even be said that both sides are right! At certain times and for certain purposes, a low carb diet can accelerate fat loss. The trick to utilizing this diet to its potential is in mastering the nutritional fundamentals of all dieting.

Nutritional Fundamentals Whether Low Carb or High Carb

Low carb high carb?
Low carb high carb?
  • Eat fewer calories than you burn.
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals daily.
  • Eat a lean protein with each meal.
  • Eat healthy carbohydrate foods.
  • Eat low fat foods.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat natural, unrefined foods.

If you can master those basics, you will be far more successful if you decide to venture into low carb dieting. The truth is that carbohydrates are not fattening. But another truth is that most people don’t need low carbohydrate diets to get lean. A low carb diet is not healthy for permanent weight maintenance. It should only be utilized as a temporary tool.

Breaking a Plateau

It’s common for dieters to get great results for weeks or even months, then just stop losing body fat completely. That’s because calorie restricted diets eventually have a negative effect on the metabolism. The more severe you diet and the longer you diet, the greater the metabolic downgrade. This leads to the dreaded diet plateau. If you’re stuck at a plateau, restricting carbohydrates can help break the plateau.

Did You Know?

Almost all bodybuilders and fitness competitors use a low carbohydrate diet at some point in their training. Reducing carbohydrates gives them metabolic and hormonal advantages that allow them to get leaner faster. A decrease in carbohydrate intake, with an increase in protein intake, can give you some very powerful advantages in fat loss.

Benefits of Cutting Carbohydrates

  • Insulin control. When you reduce carbohydrates, you reduce insulin output. Moderating insulin can be an effective strategy for losing fat.
  • Decreases water retention.
  • Decreased glycogen, which forces your body to use more fat for fuel.

Drawbacks of Cutting Carbohydrates

  • Difficult to stick with.
  • Re-gaining fat is almost inevitable.
  • Can be unbalanced and lacking in essential nutrients, causing energy levels to drop after time.
  • Much of the weight you lose on a low carbohydrate diet is muscle and water.
  • Causes “brain fog”. Your brain and central nervous system function almost exclusively on glucose. When you deprive yourself of carbohydrates for a prolonged period of time, you will often become tired, weak, moody and irritable.

Success Secrets for Low Carb Dieting

  • Carbohydrate tapering.
  • Carbohydrate cycling.

Carbohydrate Tapering

A simple way to accelerate fat loss is to reduce the size of your late day meals. This technique is known as “tapering.” Cut out the starches in your late afternoon and evening meals, leaving the green fibrous carbohydrates, lean proteins and essential fats. This is an incredibly simple and easy technique to use.

Carbohydrate Cycling Concept

Carbohydrate cycling is probably the most powerful fat burning strategy known. The concept is actually quite simple: Drop your carbohydrates for a few days, then increase them again before your body figures out what is going on! Anyone can use this technique to accelerate fat loss or break a weight loss plateau. The suggested time allotment is three days. After three days of low carb dieting, your glycogen levels will be almost completely depleted. Your metabolic rate begins to slow down and your thyroid gland decreases its output of the thyroid hormone. Basically, your diet would become less and less effective the longer you stayed on low carbohydrates beyond the three day period.

You see, the human body will make changes in physiology and metabolism to compensate for a prolonged lack of carbohydrates, which it interprets as starvation. That’s why you have to keep your body off guard with a high carbohydrate day every fourth day.

Carbohydrate cycling psychologically makes your entire diet easier to stick to because no matter how difficult it is to get through those three low days, you know your “high day” is coming soon. Eating those yummy carbs after three days without them is like getting a literal “high”! The “high day” also bypasses all the detrimental side effects. A little bit of experimentation will be necessary to discover what amount of carbohydrate works best for your high and low days.

Staying on a low carbohydrate all the time will cause your body to become inefficient at burning carbohydrates. When you begin eating them again, your body simply doesn’t know what to do with them. So do think twice about long-term carbohydrate restriction. Low carbohydrate diets are not a good idea for “lifestyle” programs, but when utilized correctly, can be a tremendous aid to fat and weight loss.

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Clearing Up Carbohydrate Confusion

Clearing Up Carbohydrate Confusion

Carbohydrates are an important source for energy. In fact, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred and most efficient energy source. Whenever carbohydrates are restricted, energy levels usually decline. During short bouts of high intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the main fuel source your body draws on for energy. When you restrict carbohydrates from your diet, your energy level will decrease. For example, within three days of a severe carbohydrate cutback, your muscle glycogen will be almost totally depleted.

Clearing Up Carbohydrate Confusion
Clearing Up Carbohydrate Confusion

 

Types of Carbohydrates

Eating the right quantity of carbohydrate is important, but the quality of the carbohydrates you choose is equally important. This is where carbohydrate confusion enters.

There are simple and complex carbohydrates, starchy and fibrous carbohydrates, refined and natural carbohydrates. Plus, there are high-glycemic and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Some of these carbohydrates are good and some are bad.

The good carbohydrates are your friends; they will supply you with energy and nutrients. They help you get leaner and more muscular. The bad carbohydrates have a greater potential for fat storage. They are nutritionally void and rob you of energy. The secret of proper carbohydrate nutrition is to learn the differences between the various types of carbohydrates. This should help clear up a lot of carbohydrate confusion.

There are two broad categories of carbohydrates: Simple and complex. Let’s start with the simple.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates consist of a single sugar molecule called monosaccharide, or two single sugar molecules linked together called disaccharide. Monosaccharides include fructose, glucose, and galactose.

The two we will refer to the most are fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (blood sugar.) Glucose is found naturally in food or it can be produced in the body through the breakdown of complex carbohydrates. Fructose is the type of simple carbohydrate found in fruit.

Here’s the most important thing you need to know about simple carbohydrates: They’re digested very quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. Your body responds to blood sugar peaks by releasing large amounts of insulin. The insulin quickly clears the glucose from the bloodstream, leading to a sharp drop in blood sugar known as hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar is accompanied by cravings, hunger, weakness, mood swings and decreased energy. The hunger and cravings tend to cause the sugar consumption to perpetuate itself, resulting in a vicious cycle of ups and downs in energy throughout the day.

High insulin levels inhibit the breakdown of existing stored body fat. The way to manage blood sugar and insulin levels is to choose fewer simple carbohydrates, eat more complex carbohydrates, and eat more fiber.

Simple carbohydrates consist mostly of refined sugar and white flour products. These are the bad carbohydrates. But not all simple carbohydrates are bad. Some simple carbohydrates occur in nature. These natural sugars include fructose (found in fruit) and lactose (found in dairy products). Natural sugars are fine when eaten in moderation.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex Carbohydrates
Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are also known as polysaccharides. Complex carbohydrates are formed when thousands of sugar molecules link together in long chains. These chains take longer to break down and digest than simple carbohydrates. There are two types of complex carbohydrates: Starchy and fibrous.

Starchy Complex Carbohydrates

Starch is the storage form of energy in plants, much like glycogen is an energy storage form in human muscle. Starchy carbohydrates are found in potatoes, cereals, grains, bread, pasta, rice, oats, wheat and beans.

Your body has the ability to absorb and digest all the caloric energy in starches. Therefore the calorie density of starch is higher than fibrous carbohydrates.

Starchy carbohydrates include:

  • Potatoes.
  • Yams.
  • Beans.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Barley.
  • Brown Rice.
  • Whole grain bread.
  • Whole grain cereal.
  • Whole grain pasta.
  • Any other whole grains.

See: Whole Grain Recipes.

Fibrous Complex Carbohydrates (Fiber)

Fiber can play a major role in a reducing body fat. Fiber is nature’s internal cleanser. Fiber gives bulk to the intestinal contents, promotes healthy digestion and elimination, speeds the transit time of food through the digestive tract and provides protection from gastrointestinal and colon diseases.

Fibrous carbohydrates such as green vegetables don’t contain many calories – they have a “low calorie density.” Low calorie density foods are important for fat loss because they make it easier to stay full without going over your calorie limits. For example, two cups of rice contains more than 400 calories while two cups of cucumbers contains only 48 calories. The volume is the same, but the difference in caloric density is almost ten fold!

Fiber is found in starches such as oats, beans and whole grains as well as in vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach

See: High Fiber Recipes

Carbohydrates of Choice

Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and absorb – and they provide sustained energy levels.

Complex carbohydrates contain fiber, which slows down their absorption and helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin. Complex carbohydrates are more filling, allowing you to feel more full on less food. Complex carbohydrates from natural sources are also the most nutrient dense carbohydrates you can eat.

For all these reasons, complex carbohydrates are the carbohydrates of choice for fat loss.

In Summary

The American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, The National Research Council, The National Academy of the Sciences and virtually every other health, nutrition and medical organization in the world recommend a moderately high carbohydrate diet containing at least 55 percent of total calories from carbohydrates. And now you know how to choose the right carbohydrates for optimal health and vitality!

Hopefully this clears up a lot of carbohydrate confusion!
See also: Low Carb High Carb

A Closer Look at Low Carb Dieting

A Closer Look at Low Carb Dieting

Low carb dieting
Low carb dieting

Let’s take a look at some of the nutrient ratios that the popular low carb diet programs recommend.

During the 1980s and 90s, the Pritkin diet recommended 70 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent protein and 10 percent fat. Other programs falling into this category are the Dean Ornish’s “Eat More Weigh Less” program, Robert Hass’s “Eat to Win” and vegetarianism.

When the right types of carbohydrates are eaten, this is a healthy way to eat. However, it’s too lopsided in favor of carbohydrates. You can’t call it a balanced diet. When you are looking to shift your body composition from fat to muscle, it’s important to know that many people simply don’t respond well to high carbohydrates. Some extremely carbohydrate-sensitive people actually see increases in cholesterol and triglycerides when their carbs are too high.

High Fat, High Protein, Low Carb Diet

Low Carb Diet Foods
Low Carb Diet Foods

On the other side you have a high fat, high protein, very low carb diet. The Atkin’s Diet is the most popular. Others include Protein Power, The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Sugar Busters, The Ketogenic diet, Th Anabolic Diet and a whole host of other programs that impose strict regulations on the amount of carbohydrate you can eat.

The basic assumption of the very low carbohydrate approach is that carbohydrates cause fat storage because they increase insulin production. Insulin is portrayed as a fat-storing monster that makes everything you eat turn into fat. The objective of these programs is to control insulin by cutting out carbohydrates. This will supposedly cause rapid body fat loss.

There is some truth in these arguments, but unfortunately, the information has been distorted. Contrary to what certain diet gurus tell you, carbohydrates are not fattening. What’s fattening is eating more calories than your body can use at one time.

A very low carb diet fails to keep body fat off permanently. It’s nearly impossible to stay on low carbohydrates for a long time. It’s also up for debate whether the very high saturated fat levels allowed in these programs are healthy.

Moderate Carbohydrate Restriction

Moderate carbohydrate restriction will usually speed up fat loss. A very low carbohydrate diet is not the ultimate answer to permanent fat loss. At worst it’s unhealthy and causes muscle loss.  At best it’s a temporary tool that should only be used for short term periods for specific fat loss goals.

The flaw in the very low carbohydrate approach is the assumption that everyone is carbohydrate sensitive. According to research, only 20 to 30 percent of the population is carbohydrate sensitive. Only a fraction of them are seriously carbohydrate sensitive. The best way to look at very low carb diet is as a last resort for those with extreme difficulty losing fat the conventional way.

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Macronutrient Ratios: No Best Ratio

Macronutrient Ratios
Macronutrient Ratios

Macronutrient Ratios: No Best Ratio

What are they? Macronutrient ratios refer to the percentage of your total daily calories that come from protein, carbohydrates and fat. For example, 60-30-10 or 40-30-30 are nutrient ratios.

For decades, bodybuilders  developed nutrition plans based on ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In 1995 nutrient ratios gained widespread attention from the public with the release of a book by Dr. Barry Sears called “The Zone.” This book made “meal ratios” household words. The entire Zone program is based on the nutrient ratio of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat (or 40-30-30).

By following the 40-30-30 ratios, Dr. Sears claimed you would lose weight, gain muscle, improve athletic performance and cure a whole host of diseases and health problems.
The Zone Diet
The Zone is basically just another very low calorie diet. The down fall of the Zone program as Dr. Sears prescribed it in his 1995 book, is dangerously low calories. Zone dieters often fell into to the same pitfall that many other low calorie dieters succumb to – starvation mode.

As a whole, the Zone program was denounced by mainstream health and nutrition organizations around the world. These included the American Dietetic Association, the Mayo Clinic, the American College of Sports Medicine, and many others. However, you can learn some important things from the Zone by plucking out useful tidbits and throwing away the rest. There were actually two particularly important contributions to modern trends in nutrition that changed the thinking about fat and weight loss since 1995.

Two Good Things We Learned From The Zone

  1. The Zone brought to the public’s attention the importance of having a good balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats instead of being heavily slanted towards mostly carbohydrate at the expense of protein and fat. It also pointed out the dangers of eating large amounts of processed carbohydrates such as white breads, white pastas, fat free snack foods and baked goods.
  2. The second important point made by the Zone program was the idea of always combining a lean protein and complex carbohydrate food at every meal. This is probably one of the most important aspects of a nutrition program designed for improving body composition, because it helps to control the hormones responsible for fat storage and it provides a steady flow of amino acids from protein foods for muscle growth and maintenance.

Macronutrient Ratios: The Bottom Line

Contrary to what some diet gurus would like you to believe, there is no single best ratio. Calories are always the most important factor in fat loss and the first factor you should consider. Only then can you accurately calculate the optimal ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat specifically for your unique needs.

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Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain

How and When Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain

How and When Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain
How and When Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain

Carbohydrates are a complex factor of nutrition. There are different types, but overall they have a similar effect on the body no matter in which form you’ve ingested them.

As many already are aware, the low carbohydrate diet will help you shed pounds. However, if done improperly, there can be negative physical ailments. There needs to be a balance in everything, and carbohydrates are no exception. Carbohydrates are vital to our state of fitness, but as with just about anything, when over-done carbohydrates cause weight gain.

When your body digests carbohydrates, they are absorbed into your bloodstream in the form of blood sugar. Blood sugar is also known as glucose. Once this has occurred, your pancreas releases the hormone called insulin. How much insulin depends upon the amount and type of carbohydrates you’ve consumed. The insulin then transports glucose from the bloodstream and into the cells where it is used for energy or stored as glycogen for later use.

  1. Small amounts of carbohydrates equal small output of insulin.
  2. Large amounts of carbohydrates equal large output of insulin.

In short, carbohydrates cause weight gain when too many are consumed.

About Insulin

High insulin levels following a high consumption of carbohydrates is undesirable. However, a moderate and steady output of insulin is vital to muscle growth and glycogen storage. Insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone that assists muscle cells in recovery and growth. Insulin isn’t a bad thing by any means, it just needs to be understood and kept under control.

How Over Consumption of Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain

Problems enter when you over-consume carbohydrates, especially the wrong kind. Think junk food. Over eating carbohydrates causes a dramatic peak in blood sugar (energy surge) which is followed by a sharp rise in insulin. This sharp rise in insulin quickly removes the sugar (energy crash) from your bloodstream. This causes your blood sugar to drop to lower than normal levels. This is when you develop a condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes fatigue and triggers intense hunger that can blow the strongest willpower out of control. Then you feel hungry again, you are likely to consume more sugar to satisfy your cravings. The energy surge and energy crash cycle repeats itself. These are the basics of how carbohydrates cause weight gain.

Avoiding Hypoglycemia

Eat frequent, smaller meals during the day. Eat the right types of carbohydrates and combine them with lean proteins and small amounts of healthy fats. This will work to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. This practice also ends the energy-surge, energy-crash cycle.

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