Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Carbs have a bad "wrap"

Over my past month working at CLM, I have noticed that most conversations revolve about carbohdyrates. More specifically, it sounds like most people think of carbs as being on the same playing field as alcohol (ie: “use in moderation”). I  understand why people might believe this, and I attribute a lot of this misinformation to ”low carb diet” marketing, and also, since we are in a fitness center, protein is obviously king (or weight lifters believe anyway…. but protein is a topic for another day). One day I actually had someone ask me if eating plain oatmeal for breakfast is bad…. let me tell you, that is usually the ultimate goal when working with clients- to have someone eat plain oatmeal for breakfast! That would be huge!

So, let me try to unravel the truth about carbs for you. If carbs were really bad and the cause of weight gain, then why is the staple food of 90+ percent of all ethnic diets a carbohydrate and the diets that are most carb based did not see an obesity epidemic until newer processed foods were introduced? (Asian= rice, noodles; Indigenous America= corn, wheat; Africa= wheat, root crops; Mexican= rice, beans; Eastern Europe= Potatoes; Meditteranean= pasta (wheat)). Populations have survived for thousands of years with the large majority of their diet based heavily on carbohydrate, and it isn’t until recently that we’ve seen obesity. Interesting, eh?

But while our ancestors may have followed a “high carb” diet, they weren’t exactly eating the same “carbs” that we see today. I’m not even sure if I would call many of the products out on the market real food…. but they do contain carbs. I’m talking about potato chips, “cheese puffs”, high fructose corn syrup and acid (ie: soda), puffed rice/corn loaded with sugar and called “cereal”, grains stripped of their natural nutrition and called “white bread”, etc. If only we ate natural and unprocessed foods, we would be eating some of the healthiest foods on earth (ie: sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, fruit, etc.). Yes, carbs are found in fruit, vegetables, and dairy… and that doesn’t make them bad! There is a reason why the majority of most diets are carbohydrate based- high quality carbs contain high quality nutrition (iron, folate, B6, riboflavin, B6, zinc, etc.) that you just can’t find in protein and fat.

So, stop counting carbs and instead go load your shopping cart with whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, and dairy. Enjoy!

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