Aug 17 2012
What are carbs? We all know bread, pasta, flour and candy are carbs. What about beans? Spinach? Milk? Yogurt? Today is the day I’m going to clear it up for you.
Day 17 in my 3 Weeks to Awesome program is all about carbs.
So, if we’re talking about nutrition, then what about the workout for today? Today I want you to pick a workout here on BPM.Tv that focuses on abs. I want you to pick it out on your own and try to get through it by yourself. No more mama Cori picking out your workouts for you, sewing your name in the waistband and laying them on your bed for you. Today I want you to gain some independence when it comes to exercise.
How do you find an ab workout here on BPM.Tv? Go to workouts. Click on abs or stomach. Scroll down, pick one out and get to it.
Today you’re going to do your workout on your own. I’m going to introduce you to my friends, the poor, misunderstood carbs.
xoxo ~ Cori
VIDEO: 3 Weeks to Awesome – What Are Carbs?
Invoke Your Super Power: Be a Carb Genius
Carbs are simply misunderstood. People are usually extremely surprised to hear that dairy is a carb. Beans too. So much so that they often argue with me about it.
Why? Well, in America we have completely over complicated nutrition.
We have the 4 food groups, the food pyramid and now “my plate.” All are different. Which one are we supposed to follow? America is getting fatter, so does that mean none of these are recommending the right amounts?
We have nutrition labeling laws, but they seemed to have been created by lawyers instead of nutritionists. Labels are super confusing to the average American. Want examples?
Labels show calories from fat, but not calories from carbs.
Percentages of daily recommended amounts are listed, but are based on a 2,000 calorie diet with nothing to tell you how that pertains to you.
Grams of sugar are listed, but there’s no percentage. Why? Because the United States has no maximum (or minimum) recommended amount for sugar. That’s right.That’s what I said. We have no maximum recommended amount for sugar.
We have a maximum recommend amount for sodium. We have recommended amounts for fat, protein, carbs, sodium, fiber and every other mineral or nutrient; just not sugar. Why? I can’t answer that one. It perplexes and slightly infuriates me.
While obesity rates have been soaring for years, America hasn’t successfully changed or updated any recommended daily values. Did I mention that several nutritional experts have been saying for years that the recommended amount of carbs is way too high? I’m talking way too high.
Can I also mention again that we have no maximum recommended amount of sugar? Let me say that just one more time. We have absolutely no maximum recommended amount for sugar in the American diet.
America has done a really poor job of making nutritional information about carbs clear. We have made nutrition way too complex. So much so that it seems like a mysterious secret to most.
We have made it into an abstract, linear algebra problem when really it’s more like grade school math. It’s really not that complicated. We just have to stop all of these nutrition shenanigans and think more like bio-chemists.
There are not four food groups. There is not a food pyramid. There is not a “my plate.” These things don’t exist and were invented with good intentions, but with poor execution and a terrible understanding of human behavior. Human beings operate best when we keep things simple.
Food consists of 3 primary macronutrients. Carbohydrates. Protein. Fat. That’s it.
When your body breaks food down, this is how it does it. It recognizes a glass of milk as a carb (mostly), not as a part of the dairy group. It recognizes an apple as a carb (mostly), not as a part of the fruit group. It recognizes a spoonful of honey as a carb, not as a part of the sugar group.
There is no dairy group. Dairy is a carb. There is no fruit group. Fruit is a carb. There is no sugar group. Sugar is a carb. There is no grain group. Grains are carbs. Are you following so far? Simplify. Think carb, protein, fat. That’s it.
There are nuances of each and every food. Each food has a nutritional profile, but we’re not going there yet, so “Cool your jets Turbo,” as my coach would say. Today we’re simplifying. Today we’re only thinking carb, protein, or fat. I will get to all the cool nuances, nutritional profiles and micronutrients of foods in future posts.
If you really want to get a jump start on it now, check out nutritiondata.com. It is, by far, the best nutritional analysis site around and it is completely free.
So, What Foods Are Carbs?
Carbohydrates are the most misunderstood group, primarily because so many different types of food are carbs. So which foods are carbs?
- Dairy (YES it is! There’s protein in dairy — but it is still considered a carbohydrate!)
- Beans (including SOY beans and SOY bean products like tofu)
- Starches (corn, potatoes)
- Refined, white grains (pasta, white rice, flour)
- Whole grains (oats, brown rice, whole wheat)
- Gluten free grains (quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
- Sugar and anything with sugar or corn syrup in it
Everything in both of the pictures above is a carb. There are simple carbs and complex carbs. I admit, it can be a bit confusing. To make it even more confusing, in the complex carb group there are some foods that are more complex than others. I know it’s tough, but know you can follow me on this. Just let it all sink in for a moment. Read the list again. All of those foods are carbs.
How Many Carbs Do I Need?
There’s no easy answer to this question. It is going to completely depend on your activity level, goal and body type. What works well for one person isn’t going to work well for everyone. I’m a huge fan of Alica Marie and her blog, Fitpop, so I’m going to leave this question up to her. By the way, she is just as gorgeous and hilarious in person as she is in her videos.
Here’s a fun video she made on carbs:
I seriously think she might be an alien, she’s so darn amazing. Each time I have met her at fitness conventions she is funnier, sassier and more beautiful than the last time I saw her.
Ok, back to your question. Here’s the thing… the only person who is truly qualified to answer this question is you. First you need to know what foods are categorized as carbs, then you have to pay attention to what carbs work well for you.
I know you want a straight answer. I’m sorry I just can’t give you one. Each person is different.
I personally eat about 150 to 200 grams of carbs a day, depending on whether I’m prepping or in my off season. That’s about 33% of my total calories, both while I’m prepping and during off season. The percentage doesn’t change because my calories go up when my carbs go up.
Keep in mind, I’m extremely active, weigh around 125 lbs and I’m 5’8″. Beyond that, I have a lot of other qualities that make me a unique individual. You do too.
You can take it upon yourself to start listening to your body, keep a food journal and pay attention to what carbs work for you in what amounts… or you can hire a professional to help you. Either way, there is not one blog out there that is going to be able to give you an honest answer to this question. If they do, be very wary. They’re guessing and assuming averages apply to you. Are you average?
How Carbs Break Down
Carbs aren’t bad. Carbs pump you up. They’re like helium for your muscles.
The thing you need to understand (after you understand what carbs are and approximate amounts that you need) is the process of how carbs are broken down. To illustrate how this happens check out this video from Tabitha Hume. I’m a pretty big fan of her work, but haven’t had the opportunity to meet her yet:
See, it’s not that carbs are bad. It’s that the body has a chemical response to carbs. Over time, if you eat too many carbs you create resistance, just like with a drug.
You must treat carbs as medicine, with a specific dosage amount and a specific dosage time. If carbs are treated that way, they heal the body. Unfortunately, most Americans treat carbs as a street drug and can’t wait to get their next fix. If carbs are treated that way, they harm the body.
Food is like a medicinal cocktail to heal your body. Carbs are a very important part of the prescription. Heal your body by getting the type of carb, the dosage and the timing right.
And although Mary Poppins was a wonderful movie and she was a fabulous nanny, in this particular instance you do not want a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
I like to post something about cardio and nutrition at the end of every post because it is important.
Cardio and nutrition are going to be two of the most important parts of achieving your results, no matter what what your goal is. You can not work off your nutritional decisions with exercise. What? You can’t eat a donut, then just do 2 hours of cardio and *poof* it will be like it never happened? That’s what I’m saying. Come on. No. You can’t.
Your body doesn’t work like a simple addition or subtraction problem. It is not calories in vs. calories out. What you eat has a chemical effect on your body. Even if you do cardio to ‘burn it off’ the chemical effect is still present. Different sugars have an affect. Different proteins have an effect. Different fats have an effect. When you take a vitamin, you understand that it has an effect in your body that cardio will not ‘work off,’ right? Food works the same way. Different foods have positive and negative chemical effects within our body. You can’t just work them off.
You have to unlock and unleash the body fat by working with your body in every aspect. Your body works in harmony like a symphony. When one instrument is off, the entire song doesn’t sound right. A good steady drumbeat can’t make up for a guitar that’s out of tune. 2 hours of cardio cannot make up for a donut. Or pizza. Or macaroni and cheese. Or wine and a baguette. Got it?
I do a minimum of 45 minutes of stairs with intervals as cardio each and every day. When I’m trying to lose fat I usually do two separate 45 minute cardio sessions a day. Even while I have been recuperating from the car crash, I have still been able to do at least one session of my daily cardio. I love my cardio and I like to stay conditioned. I personally prefer to do a little more cardio than the average figure competitor, then also eat a little more. It takes more time and effort, but I feel the pay off is well worth it. The pay off is that I feel awesome. I feel energized by cardio. I love it.
Post Workout Nutrition
When I was trying to gain muscle I finished every workout with a protein shake, animal protein, and some complex and simple carbs. These are healthy choices for gaining or for performance. These are not the right choices for me for trying to lose fat, define and sculpt muscle. Trying to define and sculpt muscle is different from gaining muscle. This means I need to eat something different.
When I am trying to lose fat and sculpt muscle, I am much more strict with my diet. Only true food sources. No protein powder.
I finish up every workout with lean protein from true food sources (a little red meat, white chicken, white fish and egg whites are best) and some dark green veggies or Super Greens mixed with water only. Again, no protein powder. If you are a vegetarian you would most likely need to supplement with protein powder. If you are not, let me say again that true food sources work best for losing body fat.
Even when I am trying to lose fat, I still FEED my body.
Want more information about nutrition? Check out BPM.tv Nutrition 101.
You can also look at my current personal fat loss diet in order to get ideas on how to develop your own nutrition plan.
You can click on the image above to link to my fat loss diet to get details about what works for me, but here is the basic breakdown.
This is my meal plan while I am trying to lose fat and define muscle. My carbohydrates come from complex sources only and are kept to about 100 grams per day.
My sugar is kept at about 18 grams per day. That’s it. That is less than what is in one banana. That means fruit is not in my fat loss nutrition plan. My sugars come from minimal amounts that naturally occur in veggies and in the complex carbs I eat each day. No matter what your goal, I highly recommend you watch your sugar intake, even ‘healthy’ sugar like fruit, and moderate it to a minimum based on your own personal goals.
My protein is kept at about 250 grams per day and comes from high quality, organic, free range (or wild) lean animal sources. My fats are kept at about 40 grams per day and come from my protein and complex carbohydrate choices (not additional plant sources like olive oil, coconut, nuts, or avocado).
That equals about 1800 calories per day. I don’t drop it much lower than that.
I eat natural, organic, whole foods that I cook myself, or if possible I eat them raw. I drink 1 to 2 gallons of water and a couple cups of either coffee or tea. There is no mysterious, magical diet. If you want to lose bodyfat you need to eat a fair amount of lean protein and A LOT of green veggies at every meal. Period.
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