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Friday, March 13, 2015

Goodbye, Carbophobia. Hello, Carbs!

Carbs...are not the enemy
My friend dramatically gasped, and at that exact moment I reached a tipping point. You might think I had committed dietary debauchery, but no: I had simply ordered quinoa with my chicken breast and sautéed spinach.

“Did you know one tiny serving of that has 27 net carbs?” she dramatically proclaimed. 

My friend had a method to her madness. Over the past year, she had lost over 60 pounds doing an extremely low-carb diet. She looks fabulous, but along the way she developed carbophobia, hence my quinoa pushing her over the edge. 

Ah that little four letter word: CARB,’” writes Sara Shelly. “So many of us cringe merely at the mention of it.” Likewise, Jen Broyles asks, Why is it that carbohydrates have developed such a bad name? It seems that ever since the hype of the Atkins Diet, carbs have been looked down upon, feared, and completely avoided.” . 

Low-carb diets work, at least at first. Working with clients who’ve struggled for years on low-calorie, low-fat, and near-starvation diets yet couldn’t maintain their loss, they oftentimes yield

great results.

Because they’re higher in satiating, satisfying protein and healthy fats, low-carb diets keep you full longer. People initially become enamored eating formerly forbidden foods like steak and macadamia nuts. A client once told me for the first time, she ate bacon and eggs without feeling guilty. 

Over time, the novelty and fat loss decline. Once you awoke salivating over a sausage-cheese omelet. Why does the mere thought make you nauseous now? 

Carbohydrate deprivation eventually opens the floodgates for binge eating. I’ve seen people militantly maintain super low-carb diets and once they permit themselves to “cheat,” devour a whole pizza and a pint of Chunky Monkey. 

Some carbs can make you fat, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. You need the right kind of carbs. 

If you’re a moderately active individual with a healthy digestive system, your body needs some carbohydrates for energy,” writes Marissa Vicario. “Which ones and how much depends on a variety of factors and is different for everyone.”
Let’s agree: leafy and cruciferous vegetables don’t make you fat, okay? Neither do nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbs like apples or quinoa. I never met anyone who got fat eating quinoa. You’re not going to eat a cup of lentils and then not get into your skinny jeans the next morning. 
When you forego these and other healthy carbs, consider how many nutrients, fiber, and variety you’re missing. 

Do you need carbs? Well, biochemically, no. Through a process called gluconeogenesis, your liver can create all the glucose for your brain and other organs to function. 

We don’t need carbs, but we don’t need electricity either. We don’t need our iPhones or laptops or other modern technology. Why deny yourself delicious, nutrient-rich foods that will enhance performance, help you burn fat, and make your meals more interesting? 

I classify carbs as “occasional,” better, or best. You already know the best sources: veggies, low-glycemic fruits, and high-fiber starchy carbs like sweet potatoes or quinoa. Better would include brown rice and other non-gluten grains. “Occasional” would include dark chocolate or your aunt’s sinfully rich peanut butter fudge pie. 

The only permanently banish-able foods are trans fat and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). .

If you currently fear carbs, experiment until you find that “sweet spot” (pun fully intended!). Your mileage will vary, but for most people – including my carbophobic friend – that allows for some quinoa, sweet potatoes, and legumes.

If you’ve ever been on a low-carb diet, did you struggle with withdrawal, cravings, or other unpleasant side effects? Share your story below.

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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at© 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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