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CARBS: Eat Them or Avoid Them?

I’m dedicating this week to diet and weight loss. Whether you are dieting for the first time or you are just wanting to tweak your diet, I will be giving you tips to help make dieting easier and more rewarding. 

Carbs Are Evil
The media has plastered a message across the globe that carbs are bad. So much so, some people are terrified of them. Ironically, those same people are eating the heck out of carbs and just don’t know it because they aren’t one of the obvious “bad” carbs. Sure, french fries are carbs but so are fruit and veggies. The problem is, many people are eating too many unhealthy carbs and not enjoying the benefit of the heathy ones.

Food = Fuel
Before you can even think of changing your food habits, you have to change your mind. From this day forward, start thinking of food as fuel. Although food does taste good, it’s purpose is to fuel you. How your body runs is determined by the food you eat. If you eat like crap, you’ll feel like crap – and you might not even realize it because you’ve never eaten healthy enough, consistently enough, to tell the difference. Start asking yourself “what does my body need?” instead of “what does my tongue want to taste?”. When you give your body what it needs, you will find you’ll feel better and feel more satisfied.

What are Carbs Good For?
Carbohydrates are one of the best sources of fuel – that’s why athletes carb up before their big day. You don’t see them loading up on chicken and steak before the race, you see them eating a big bowl of pasta and bread. Carbs fuel you to work, play and train well. However, how much energy do you need to sleep? What kind of carb-loading do you need to snore? None! Yet, this is when many people eat the biggest, high-carb meals.

Carbs: It’s All About WHEN You Eat Them
This graph will give you a visual of how you can fuel your body through out the day. First, there’s protein (in red). Protein is so important, but it’s not a great fuel source – however, it’s essential for muscle repair, which is primarily done while we sleep. Fat (yellow), is a good lasting energy source, should stay consistent throughout the day. It also helps slow digestion, helping us stay fuller longer, as well as absorb more nutrients. Lastly, carbohydrates are your best source for fuel. Since you don’t need a lot of fuel to sleep, I recommend decreasing carbs at night.  (This doesn’t mean you don’t have ANY protein or carbs during at those time, you just don’t need as much)

The Good News
If you thought you were going to have to give up pasta and potatoes – think again! You can eat all your favorite yummies during the morning and daytime (as long as they are within your caloric budget for the day) and just cut them back at night. So instead of eating that salad at lunch, eat your higher carb meals, like sandwiches,  wraps, pasta, etc) during the day, saving salads and greens for the evening. You’ll have more energy during the day and you’ll be less likely to store fat from unused carbohydrates at bedtime.

Tips for Meal Planning 

Low Calorie Vegetables (great for dinner sides)
TIP:
Dark Green Veggies are always a safe bet!

Spinach
Collards
Kale
Broccoli
Asparagus
Cauliflower
Mustard or Turnip Greens
Lettuce
Cabbage
Zucchini
Green Beans
Sprouts
Okra 
Squash
Tomatoes
Cucumber
Egg Plant
Sea Vegetables (Nori, etc)

High Carb Foods (best for breakfast, lunch & snacks)
TIP: If it’s light in color doesn’t mean it’s light in calories.
Potato
Sweet Potato
Whole Grain Pasta
Whole Grain Bread
Rice (white & brown)
Beans/Chick Peas/Black Eyed Peas
Corn
Whole Grain Cereal
Oatmeal
Cream of Wheat
Cakes/Cookies/Pastries
Yogurt
Milk
Fruit
Juice 

Remember, dieting is all about calories in vs. calories out. If you have never counted calories before (and even if you’re stubborn and don’t want to count calories) be sure to read yesterday’s 7 DAY DIET: How to Make Your Own Meal Plan blog. This blog will help you learn how to get started. 

NOTE: Another great time to have protein is RIGHT AFTER a workout. There are a lot more tips to share, and as with everything, exceptions to the rule – so please realize I’m trying to keep things simple. More tips to come!

SUBSCRIBE TO GET THE REST OF MY TIPS ON DIETING THIS WEEK! :)

14 comments

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  1. Tina

    Yes, that makes sense! I’m just getting down to a healthy weight and want to focus on building more muscle and losing more fat instead of just losing weight. I definitely don’t want my body to burn up my muscle–I want it to go after the fat! Apart from getting enough protein and weight training, is there anything else I can do to prevent my body from burning muscle?

  2. Tina

    Hi Bonnie! What you’ve said about the carbs later in the day makes sense, but what happens to the protein and fat? If you’ve got a calorie deficit, won’t the body go into its reserves and burn fat anyway and, if you don’t have a calorie deficit, won’t the body store whatever extra energy (calories) you’ve got left as fat whether it comes from 300 calories of protein or 300 calories of carbohydrates?

    I’m sorry if I’m being a pain, but there’s so much conflicting information floating around on the Internet that it’s hard for a normal person to make sense of it all. I’m trying to eat and exercise in a way that helps me maintain my weight and be in the best shape I can but I don’t want to do anything that’s detrimental to my health to achieve my goals.

    I really appreciate your time in answering my questions and your informative blogs. Thanks!

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      I hope I’m answering your question right (understanding you right I mean). If you are at a caloric deficit, you will be burning stored fat no matter what your “overage” was for any one given meal. If you are not getting enough protein, your body will also burn muscle – which we don’t want – this is why protein is so important.

      High glycemic foods go through our system much faster than protein and fats so this means if you ate a potato, it would be turned to glucose and quickly stored as fat, where a high-protein low-glycemic meal would stay in your system longer and our body would use it’s nutrients, to repair tissue, etc. Another words, you would be more likely to actually USE up the food in a high protein low carb meal at night vs if you ate a high-carb meal. Does that answer your question?

  3. Jasmine

    I am thankful that I was obsessed with calorie counting and checking what fats proteins and carbs were in foods, because it does help understand how much your body actually needs. Now that I don’t listen to my tongue I can just look at food and understand roughly what is good enough instead of having a calculator and scale tell me.I am Thankful I had done this but so glad those days are over.thanks again for being an amazing health and fitness inspiration!! =))

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      You are so sweet. thanks! Honestly, that knowledge can be very freeing. Funny how inslaved to our tongue we can be. :) I think we never stop learning. I know I sure have a lot to learn still! …and I hope to pass it along to you all! Thanks for commenting!

      1. Jasmine

        =)) xx

  4. Jasmine

    Fantastic to read this blog!! From everything that I have read this really does put it into perspective. If only I had read this 6years ago lol now I can throw out all my mags, books and research-I finally get it am enjoying listening to my body tell me what type of food it needs not what “my tongue wants”!! (just joking about the books and mags, I’ll keep that-they have clean tasty recipes in them hahaha). Awesome blog!! You have inspired me!! All the best in health, happiness, love and joy. Thank you for posting this =))

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      awe!! thank you! I always love feedback (both good and bad). It’s very helpful for me to see what is helping people and encouraging people. Yay! thanks! :)

  5. Tina

    I’m no nutritionist so I have no idea about the science behind this, but why does it make a difference if carbs are consumed earlier or later in the day if it’s the whole picture that really matters? I can understand eating more carbs before or after a workout for more energy, but do I really need to cut out a sweet potato with my dinner if my carbs are balanced and generally unrefined or from fruit and vegetables the rest of the day? Won’t the body store extra calories if you’ve eaten too much regardless of where they come from?

    Thanks for the great blogs!

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      Honestly, that’s an awesome point. I can’t always get into every topic as deep as I’d like but you are right. If you are at a caloric deficit, you’ll be losing weight anyone. But the main reason we really don’t need to eat carbs at night is just because they are unnecessary. You can still have sweet potato, but maybe just not as much as you could eat for lunch.

      On a glucose level, many of our high-glycemic index foods turn to glucose (causing an insulin spike as well as a crash) faster than low-glycemic carbs, and get stored as fat very quickly. My thought is, I’d rather avoid storing any fat if I can so even if I’m at a caloric deficit, I’m burning already stored fat (from the past) not from today. So, I’m trying to eat my carbs earlier (and use them up!) so not to give them chance to be stored (if at all possible) and save my low-glycemic low-carb foods for night. :)

      I hope that makes a little sense.

  6. Lisa

    Thanks Bonnie! Always such great advice!
    Id love to stop by sometime and share with you my new business: MICHE! (They are purses that come in all sizes that have interchangeable outer shells! They are sooo fun, great styles & quality!)
    Check out my website (do not put www ot http in front…just copy/paste
    Thegreatestpursesever.miche.com directly into url…
    Would appreciate your support Bonnie!
    Blessings, Lisa Milton

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      cool! I’ll check it out. sounds fun!

  7. Heather (Where's the Beach)h

    Great visuals. I feel like I eat way too many carbs late in the day. Love my sweet potatoes.

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      so glad it could help. I’m a very visual person – it always helps me “get it”. :)

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