Thursday, January 28, 2016

Carbs

I have written a lot about nutrition this month. Proper nutrition is key to losing weight or maintaining it. Every time I change a vitamin, or tweak my calories or macros around, I learn something new. I used to think carbohydrates are "bad." I was stupid. Really, I was.  For whatever reason, I continue to struggle with carbs.  I think this is a common issue.  My Facebook friends had some hilarious answers to my question:

When you hear or see the word "carbs" or "carbohydrates", what do you think?
I think, "Ice cream!"
What a completely AWESOME collection of responses!!!
This is part one of a two part series dedicated to carbs. What are they?  Why do you need them? What's good? What's better? What's best when consumed sparingly?  and WHY are they such a struggle?

What are carbohydrates? 

Carbs are the sugars, starches and fibers in food.  They are most often found in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products. Carbohydrates can be classified as simple and complex, which is determined by how fast the body metabolizes them.  Simple carbs are most often found in fruits, some vegetables, dairy products, beer and anything made with refined sugar. Complex carbs are most often found in beans, peanuts, lentils, corn, potatoes and whole grains.  Because they take longer to digest, they provide more sustained energy and are better for your blood sugar levels (glycemic index).

Why do you need carbs? 

With so many different diet programs out there, carbs have become Enemy #1 to so many people. As a result, many of us are completely misinformed about them.   In the next post, I will share with you my story about the effect of carbohydrates and what happened to me when I didn't have enough of them.  
ENEMY #1
I swear, this is my most favorite ways to eat toast.
Smothered in melted butter and completely covered in mounds of cinnamon sugar.
The thought makes my mouth water.  Carbs...sinfully delicious!
You need carbohydrates!  Your body breaks carbohydrates into glucose which your body uses for energy.  Additionally, the neurotransmitters in your brain use glucose to synthesize information, helping with our ability to think, learn and remember.  Carbohydrates help your body to produce serotonin, which helps to stabilize your mood and to sleep properly.  Most carbohydrates are rich in fiber and vitamins, which you need to be healthy.  

When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts it to glucose.  Your pancreas releases insulin to help absorb glucose and lower blood sugar levels.  Insulin is a hormone which is needed for proper functioning of most major health systems in your body, including your hypothalamus, your thyroid, your immune system and women's reproductive system.  You need carbohydrates.

In the next post, I will discuss "good carbs," "better carbs," and "sometimes carbs."  Why do we struggle so much with carbohydrates?  And I will share a story with you about what can happen when you don't eat enough carbs.  Stay tuned!   Carbs 2 released!

Can I have some cinnamon toast for breakfast, please?
I've worked so hard...please, pretty please?
Here are links to other posts where I discuss nutrition.  They are worth a second (or first) view if you are serious about flexible dieting as an option.

Carbs 2:  The second part on this series on carbohydrates.

Nutrition Hot Topic:  Is it bad?:  Thinking about food choices.  What's good?  What's not?

Fabulous Fiber:  A brief discussion about the benefits of a high fiber diet.

Successful Secrets:  Two simple strategies I practice every day which helped me to lose weight and to now keep it off.

Successful Secrets: Part Two:  How planning my week's meals helps me to stay on track.  Menu and recipe ideas.

Nutrition 101, I talk about meal prep and provided you with several recipes and meal suggestions to get you started.  Check it out!

Flexible Dieting Basics:  A basic explanation of flexible dieting...how tracking calories and macronutrients has been the most successful way for me to lose weight and keep it off.

Tracking Calories with MFP:  Some features of MyFitnessPal (MFP) explained.  This post has some tricks of the trade.

Foods to Try:  These are foods I try to always keep on hand and a couple recipes too.

Cravings:  Some tips on how to stave off and handle cravings when they hit.  

Wonder Woman:  I explain how I got the nickname "Wonder Woman" by tracking all my calories and macronutrients.  I give a brief explanation of macros here.

A Calorie is Not a Calorie:  This post talks about the different effect foods have on you.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
Any big plans this weekend?  What's your favorite carb?
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