Thursday, February 3, 2011

The (not so) skinny on Carbohydrates

There are two types of Carbohydrates: Simple and Complex.  Most of your carbohydrates should come from complex carbs, not simple.  (But, then again, not all simple carbs are bad for you) The latter is absorbed fast, giving you short term energy, whereas complex carbs give you long lasting energy and will help you feel full. The classification (of carbs) is based on the chemical structure and reflects how quickly sugar is digested and absorbed.

I like to use the analogy of a burning fire when describing the body's response to the ingestion of carbs. Throwing newspaper on a fire is what happens when you ingest simple get quick high energy but it doesn’t last very long. Throwing a log onto a fire is what happens when you ingest complex get a slower but longer burn/energy supply. For proper nutrition/health and weight maintenance, and particularly for an athlete in training, you want to keep the fire burning slowly and evenly all-day long.

Simple carbohydrates are also called simple sugars and are chemically made of one or two sugars. A simple sugar can be just what the name implies, the sugar in your sugar bowl. Things like candy, syrups, and soda are also straightforward examples of simple carbs. They are absorbed quickly.
Believe it or not, simple carbs also include healthy foods such as fruit and milk. These are better sources of simple carbs because they contain vitamins and fiber, and also important nutrients that your body needs, like calcium.

Complex carbohydrates are also known as starches and are made of three or more linked sugars. Grains such as bread, pasta, oatmeal and rice are complex carbs, as well as some vegetables like broccoli, corn legumes such as kidney beans and chick peas. They take the longest to digest. Foods such as oatmeal, vegetables, and grains will give you the energy you need. Keep in mind, sugar releases chemicals that promote fat storage. When you are eating sugar, try to make it after a workout as this is when it is most useful to your body.  In a perfect world all of your sugar intake should come from fruits and veggies, and other natural foods such as milk.

FYI, 55-60% of your daily diet should consist of Carbs. You may need to consume more during hi-intensity training and definitely during the racing season…sometimes upwards of 70%.

You do not need 'added' (refined/processed) sugar in your daily diet. Sugar from corn syrup or table sugar adds no nutritional value whatsoever. You may be wondering, of the Carbs I ingest, how much (Simple Carbs) Sugar should I intake daily? According to Jorge Cruise, author of Belly Fat Cure, 15 grams maximum of sugar per day. That by the way, is hardly any sugar at all. Here’s just a sample of the amount of sugars that are in the foods/drinks you may consume during the day:

1 cup of 1% milk (simple carbs)- 12g of Sugars.
1 bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios- 12g of Sugars
1 10-oz Dunkin Donuts Coffee w/ cream & sugar- 12g of Sugars.
1 Yoplait Light Yogurt contains 15g of Sugars.
1 PowerBar Energy Bar contains 28g of Sugars.
1 cup of Breyers All-Natural Vanilla Ice Cream- 30g of Sugars
1 Mountain Dew Soda contains 31g of Sugars.

If you ate/drank all this in one day, which is not unheard'll be ingesting 140g of Sugars...that's almost 10x the recommended daily intake.  I'll bet you the average kid ingests at least this much per day.  No wonder our kids are obese and/or overweight with a high incidence of diabetes.  Remember, if/when you ingest simple carbs (such as the ones on this list) your blood sugar (glucose) levels will rise signaling your pancreas to secrete/produce insulin which will move the glucose from the blood into tissues/cells (also fat cells).  And, guess what?  Once glucose is converted into fat, there is no chance of it being converted back into glucose.  The only way to rid the body of this new found stored fat, is to metabolize/burn it off via exercise.  No better reason to stay away from the simple carbs as far as I'm concerned.

Power ON! Coach Rob

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