Confusing? It should be and the diet industry is doing you no favors. Lately all I hear is low carb this and no carb that. The problem is, many people think they aren’t eating carbs and in fact they are eating lots of carbs. To make it even more confusing they are eating a ton of super good for you, gotta have them to live a healthy life carbs.
So what’s the deal?! Years ago several of my friends went on the Atkins diet. They ate no bread, no pasta, and no carbohydrate laden vegetables. Most people who heard about this diet heard “no bread, no pasta” and saw people start losing weight. They assumed that the bread and pasta were the carbohydrates and the bad guys.
A lot of the problem here is that the diet industry has run with the whole carbs are bad notion and left a lot of us misinformed. Big surprise there! Understanding what is in your food and what is actually a carb can help you to better understand what your body needs and to make better informed decisions about the foods you choose.
White breads and pastas are simple carbohydrates along with table sugar, white flour, milk, jelly, etc. These are typically high in what we would consider “sugar.” They are easy to digest and quickly raise our blood sugar level. Generally speaking, these types of carbohydrates do not contain essential nutrients needed for our bodies to run healthy.
But wait there is more! Complex carbohydrates are found in things like vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, lentils, and beans among many others. These carbohydrates are what give our bodies fuel and the glycogen we need to store energy for long endurance runs. Complex carbohydrates also take much longer to break down which means that our blood sugar general won’t rise rapidly and will keep us feeling full longer after a meal.
Knowing all of this, it is really impossible to live on a carbohydrate free diet. If you are running you need carbohydrates, namely complex carbohydrates to fuel your body. The key is determining how you want to consume that fuel.
I personally do not eat a lot of bread or pasta. I have found that my face and body tend to look a bit puffy when I eat whole grain breads and I tend to get tired and ready for a siesta midafternoon. I do however occasionally have a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter in the morning before some of my runs. I won’t lie, I also eat a bagel with cream cheese in the morning before a long run of more than 15 miles because that is the one food that seems to work with my stomach and not make me sick. It also keeps me from needing to refuel during my run.
On the other hand I eat a ton of vegetables and legumes. I eat at least one big salad full of mixed greens each day and often have them for both lunch and dinner. I have found that filling up on veggies keeps my energy levels higher throughout the day and keeps me from wanting to snack too much between meals. I love topping my salads with black beans, garbanzo beans and lentils. All of these are great for keeping my energy supplies up.
Just because I choose to eat less bread and grains in my diet does not mean it will work for you or that you should necessarily try this. However, I think it is important to realize that carbohydrates are not always bad and in many times they can be a very important part of your diet. You just need to know what exactly you should be looking for. For example, whole grain bread is certainly going to give you more nutrients than a slice of white bread.
To help me with my path to healthy eating I recently purchased the Spiralizer from Williams Sonoma. I have been looking at this product for months and waiting to read some good reviews. I did find a few websites that said it was a great product and at $39.95 I couldn’t resist.
Last night we tried this out with a few zucchinis. I simply washed the zucchinis with a vegetable wash and then attached each of them to the Spiralizer. It was surprisingly easy to operate and did exactly what it was supposed to do. It makes spirals of the vegetable you attach to the “machine.” There are 3 different blades that allow you to determine the size of your spirals.
We used the small and medium attachments and in seconds had a pile of zucchini pasta. I threw them in a pan with a touch of olive oil and garlic and briefly sautéed them. I then added a touch of tomato sauce and some Italian seasoning.
The result was surprisingly awesome. My husband and I both agreed that if we didn’t know any better it tasted like al dente pasta. I am so excited about this product and I can’t wait to try new “pasta” recipes!
So truth be told I can now have a great pile of delicious carbohydrates the night before a run, just a bit more of a complex version.