If you’ve been reading any of my posts or blogs you probably already know how I feel about unhealthy carbs. Notice how I said unhealthy carbs. Carbs are in just about everything from fruits and vegetables, your favorite dish at Olive Garden to that miserable package of Ramen noodles and snickers bars. The later two are some of the worst culprits and should be avoided at all costs. Let’s look at what a carb actually is.
Carbs are a molecule that consists of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They are one of three macronutrients like protein and fat, all of which we need in different amounts. When we consume carbs our digestive system converts them into glucose (blood sugar). That glucose is then burned to make ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) and releases energy as needed. Sounds ok right, so what’s the fuss all about?
If we are talking about whole food carbs such as fruits and veggies you can eat all you want, with a little moderation on the fruits. I challenge you to show me someone who became obese from eating too much Broccoli. The kinds of carbs that I refer to as bad and are detrimental to your body, come from overly processed grains and sugars such as white bread, muffins, candy bars, chips etc.
Why are these so bad for us Scott? I’m glad you asked. For starters a diet rich in these processed (bad) carbs cause weight gain by attacking the parts of us that tell us we are full and to stop eating. They cause major spikes in blood sugar that cause that all too familiar crash leaving us craving something sweet so we feel better and the carb, blood sugar roller coaster goes on and on.
Processed carbs cause insulin resistance. Insulin is released to allow your cells to absorb sugar for storage. The more processed a carb the greater the impact it has on your insulin and blood sugar levels. The more of these processed carbs we take in the more insulin is released and the more our bodies become immune or resistant to the hormone. This results in blood sugar and insulin levels remaining high long after we are done eating. This resistance to insulin can cause type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some forms of cancer. As I’ve said before what is the one thing most cancers need to survive Glucose (blood sugar.)
High Triglycerides are also a side effect of the bad carbs. Triglycerides are a form of fat in your blood. Heart attack and other cardiovascular issues can arise from high triglycerides stemming from the fact that if they are too high your blood cannot travel freely in your arteries.
Side note: Did you know that according to the Mayo clinic the average American takes in about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day, did you also know that the daily recommended max intake is 6 to 9 teaspoons.
Eating a bunch of processed carbs usually leads to nutrient deficiencies. When we eat too many of these bad carbs it leaves little room in our diet or stomach for healthy nutrient rich foods. An example would be, you have your morning cereal, which is more than likely nothing but overly processed carbs with added sugars. Within an hour or two you crash and crave something sweet to fill the void (as I’ve discussed in previous posts these carbs have an addictive quality like heroine) so you grab a muffin, donut or maybe a candy or granola bar and you feel better for a bit.
Then comes lunchtime and like most people you are on a busy schedule so if you didn’t pack yourself something you run and grab maybe Burger King, Taco Bell or Mcdonalds. Or if your behaving a frozen “healthy” lunch, let’s say Healthy choice Grilled Chicken Marinara- 250 calories ok, Total carbs 36g not ok, fiber 5g ok, sugars 6g not ok. How exactly do you get 6 grams of sugar and 36 grams of total carbs in chicken and sauce. Damn sneaky food companies, even in the healthy options you need to really read the labels. That is exactly how 6 to 9 teaspoons turns into 22.
So it’s now around 2 pm and yup you guessed you crashed again, and again we go for the old stand by cause “your not the same when your hungry, Snickers really satisfies.” Now it’s dinner time and you really haven’t had any nutrient dense food yet today so maybe you will cook up some dinner and add veggies. Tonight peas sound good along with your sweet potato and chicken. Although your sweet potato and peas aren’t horrible the peas contain 9.8 grams of semi healthy carbs 3.8 from sugar in a serving and the sweet potato has 26.16 grams of healthy carbs 5.4 of which is sugar. But wait, we aren’t done yet we must have desert, all american apple pie has in one slice 57.5 grams of carbs 19 grams of which is sugar. For the most part today you have had empty hollow sugar filled calories and guess what it’s 9 and your hungry again, lets have popcorn, we’ve been told it’s healthy we even bought the healthy brand. Pop Secret a full bag of 94% fat free contains 58 grams of carbs no added sugar which is a plus, but what is it that carbs do, that’s right they turn into blood sugar. You wake up in the morning starving and it starts all over again. Does any of this sound familiar? Can you see how you may end up nutrient deficient?
But Scott the government says we need in the area of 300 or more grams of carbs a day and they would never lie even though they are hounded by the food and farming industry lobbyists.
Another sidebar: Did you know that along with cancer, fungal infections also use glucose.
Well Mr. Jackson on the off chance you will actually shoot me, yes you do need carbs to live but nowhere near, not even remotely close to what we are told we need. Without going into too much detail in this blog when we use all of our Glucose stores are body creates ketones. Your body starts to convert it’s fat stores into highly efficient energy molecules known as ketones. There is a good chance your body does this on a nightly basis when you sleep unless you have a high carb/sugary late night snack or have become insulin resistant, in which case instead of burning fat you’re storing it. When you go into ketosis you become a fat burning beast called in the industry “fat adapted.”
But alas the body can’t live on ketosis alone which is why Gluconeogenesis is so very important. You could be the most fat adapted person in the world but there are still cells in your body that need glucose to live. To meet these needs your liver uses the process of gluconeogenesis. Converting amino acids, lactate and glycerol into sugar, your liver is able to meet the glucose needs of the brain and body, while not leaving much left over for those nasty cancer cells or fungus. For this reason there really isn’t any daily essential requirement for carbs.
So honestly if you’re eating a healthy diet, half your plate consisting of vegetables slathered in healthy grass fed butter, a sweet potato also slathered in grass fed butter, a salad with an Avocado or Olive based dressing, plus your protein (sounds delicious right), you will get plenty of healthy carbs that don’t add up to much, you will feel very full and your calories will be fairly low. The best part is you can eat this way all the time and lose or maintain weight.
I could go into a lot more detail of the chemical breakdowns and other adverse health effects of (bad) carbs but I think you get the idea. Besides your not here for a science lesson, in the words of Joe Friday, and I’m dating myself here, “All we want are the facts ma’am.”
Well that’s a wrap for this week. I hope you found this somewhat informational. Please don’t be shy about asking questions or making comments. Let me know what topics you would like discussed or how I could make this blog and my Facebook Page Dropping The F Bomb more suited to your needs. If you missed last weeks blog on United States of Obesity you can find it here. Stay healthy #fitfam and see you next week. Joke of the week,
Dentist: “This will hurt a bit.”
Dentist: “I’ve been having an affair with your wife for awhile now.”
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