Carbohydrates

How To Stuff The Turkey Without Stuffing Yourself

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! It has all the great food and visiting that Christmas has, but with less fuss and no presents (aka less stress). Before the weekend is upon us I want to help you strategize your Thanksgiving nutrition. I’m not going to tell you NOT to eat something, we all need a piece of pie. I just want to give you some tips that will keep you feeling well all weekend long! They are as follows:

turkey

  1. Hog the vegetables. I mean it. March up to the Thanksgiving dinner buffet and fill at least half your plate with a variety of vegetables! Your family doesn’t cook anything but steamed carrots? Start a new tradition and bring a big salad, steamed broccoli or a delicious butternut squash.
  2. Have a healthy serving of Turkey. We don’t get turkey very often, which I find weird because it really is one of the most delicious birds. For some reason we are convinced they can only be eaten on holidays, but I digress. Turkey is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and niacin. Load up!
  3. Keep the grains to 1/2 a cup or less. Half a bun or half a cup of stuffing is plenty! Cutting back on the bread will save you room for dessert and prevent you from feeling “stuffed”
  4. Still have room on your plate? Choose something colorful! There are so many delicious dishes you can make with a variety of in season produce. I’ve linked to a few recipes below:
    1. Bacon wrapped squash,
    2. lentil and sweet potato casserole,
    3. zucchini pizza
  5. Eat mindfully. Take your time. Enjoy the food.

paleo-2106537_960_720

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends. That can be hard to do if your feeling overstuffed the whole time. If your looking for a delicious and nutritious pumpkin pie recipe, you can find my recipe here.

Eat your veggies and your pie!

Charity

Eatreal4life Free Food Guide

Last week I talked about the Canadian Food Guide. This week I’m sharing my own food guide! I’ve created an infographic to help simplify. Feel free to share with a friend!
I want to address one of the main differences between my food guide and the government’s. The government still recommends a high carb/low fat diet, but you will notice I recommend a more balanced approach with more fat, more vegetables, and less carbohydrates. I wouldn’t say it’s a low carb diet, it’s just lower than the Canadian food guide recommends. Recently, there is a lot of talk about inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Acute inflammation is good. If you break your leg and notice it’s red and swollen, this is a sign the immune system is doing its job. Chronic inflammation is when the body is dealing with inflammation all the time. If your broken leg was still just as swollen and red three weeks later, you would be concerned. While most of us don’t have swollen red limbs, our body does give us clear signs of inflammation. Some of them I’ve listed below:

Achy Joints
Headaches
Stomach Pains
Acne
Weight Gain
Low Energy
Slow Recovery
Frequent Colds/Flus
Water Retention
The list goes on and on…….

Recently, a meta-analysis completed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found this:

“Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults.1 Similarly in the secondary prevention of CHD there is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction, cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.”

The belief that a high fat diet can clog your arteries has been challenged and disproven over and over, and yet many people are still avoiding fat and choosing to eat a high carbohydrate diet. Considering the longer we have followed the high carb/low fat diet, the sicker we have become, you would think that by now the food guide would have made some adjustments. Hopefully the new one does! The article went on to say:

“In comparison with advice to follow a ‘low fat’ diet (37% fat), an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet (41% fat) supplemented with at least four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or a handful of nuts (PREDIMED) achieved a significant 30% (number needed to treat (NNT)=61) reduction in cardiovascular events in over 7500 high-risk patients.”

You can read more about it here

A high fat diet has shown to decrease heart related events, not increase them! We need fat to fight inflammation! I chose averages for the servings. Each person is unique so there is no one diet that will fit all. Obviously the lower end is for smaller people and the higher for larger. If I can recommend one thing you should take from this, it is to eat whole food and little sugar. I don’t recommend avoiding saturated fat, which means you will get a fair amount of fat in your meat. I’m not saying you should drink the stuff, but I’m not recommending you avoid meat because of it. The food guide I have designed is about balance, but it is also about decreasing inflammation and giving the body the micro and macronutrients it needs. I am not funded by any organization and gain nothing by making these recommendations. As always, if you have a pre-existing condition/take any medications you should contact your health professional before making any changes!

IMG_4835IMG_4833

IMG_4836

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

A Review Of The Current Canadian Food Guide

Did you hear? The Canadian Food Guide is being rewritten! Before it gets released I want to take a look at the current guide and what I hope we see in the new version.

Food-Guide

For the sake of flow I’m going to refer to the Male 19-50 category. The guide recommends the following:

8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables

8 servings of grain

2 servings of milk/alternatives

3 servings of meat/meat alternatives

Starting with Fruit and vegetables.

Pro’s: 8-10 servings is an excellent recommendation. I would recommend they separate the fruits and vegetables making it 8 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit. Reason being, if people don’t know much about nutrition they will likely choose fruit over vegetables when given the option. Try feeding a baby peas and then switching to bananas. Which one are they going to choose if they have the option? Most babies will choose the bananas. We like sweetness, most of us prefer it to any other taste.

Con’s:You will notice that a glass of 100% fruit juice is considered a serving of fruit, I think this is a problem because it gives the impression that drinking a glass of orange juice is just as beneficial as eating an orange. Eating the entire orange ensures that you get fiber along with the fructose. Fiber helps slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream. I have nothing against freshly squeezed juice but I do think it is meant to be had in moderation. If someone wants to have 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed juice at breakfast, that’s great. If they start replacing multiple servings with juice, I’m going to be concerned. Another problem is that many people believe Tropicana and Simply Orange are equal to freshly squeezed juice. They are NOT. In the past few years the public has been made a aware of the sneaky tactics these companies use to keep their “100% real juice” status. Whenever possible, make your own juice or buy it from a local organic juicery.

Let’s move on to grains. The recommendation for the male is 8 servings of grain. A serving is one slice of bread, 1/2 a cup of other grains or 3/4 cup of cereal.

Pro’s:First, to the side you will see they recommend that at least half these grains be whole grain and that you read the nutrition labels before you buy. I can see the effort here and I applaud it. When choosing a grain whole grain ,much like choosing the orange over the juice, contains more nutrients, more fiber and less sugar. White bread has been bleached and processed to the point where it cannot be considered a health food. It’s a sham. I think the guide should contain more information on why they make certain recommendations. If you dig around you can find more, but making it all part of the same info-graphic would make it user friendly.

Con’s: Back to the servings, 8 servings of grain a day. That’s 8 pieces of bread. I realize they aren’t recommending people eat 8 pieces of bread, but they aren’t NOT recommending it. If you think about it, toast at breakfast, a sandwich at lunch and pizza for dinner would get you pretty close to 8 servings and you can’t tell me that isn’t a common menu. Grains do contain many good nutrients, but 8 servings a day is excessive. I would recommend 3-4 servings of grain with the rest of the carbohydrates coming from a sweet potato, squash and other vegetables. I would also recommend those grains be as natural as possible! For people ,like myself, who struggle with autoimmune diseases it is often best to limit grains to 0-1 servings a day and fill up on nutrient dense vegetables and healthy fats.

Milk and milk alternatives. We’ve all been on the ride from milk is good to milk is bad to milk is good. Everywhere you look there’s a different opinion on whether or not you should drink milk. The main reason milk is recommended is that it contains calcium which is a mineral that contributes to bone health, among other things. There are several leafy greens that have higher concentrations of calcium than dairy products. Factor in that the milk we drink today is pasteurized and has an acidic affect on the body and there isn’t a great argument for consuming it. About 65% of the population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, meaning more than half of us shouldn’t be consuming it at all. I would like to see dairy as a nonessential food group. It can be included as something to partake in if you do not have a lactose intolerance.

Meat and Alternatives.

Pro’s: I like meat. It provides us with essential amino acids that are used as the building blocks of our muscles. Only a few meat alternatives give us all the essential amino acids our body needs. I agree with the 2-3 servings as suggested but when looking closely at the info-graphic I see a few red flags.

Con’s:They have peanut butter as a meat alternative, while peanut butter does contain protein it also contains double the fat. I am 100% pro fat but would prefer to see the peanut butter in its proper category. Legumes are also listed as a meat alternative. 1 cup of legumes contains about 8g of protein and 21g of carbs. You would have to eat a lot to get enough protein and you’d be eating more carbohydrates than necessary. Legumes have many health benefits, but they should be listed as a source of carbohydrates before a source of protein.

What about fat?

To be fair, the rainbow version of the template used to contain a small red line that represented fat. Now there is a box recommending 2-3 TBSP of unsaturated fat be consumed every day. This is great advice, we all need unsaturated fat for our bodies to function at their best. What I don’t like is they are still scaring people away from saturated fat when in moderation it can be used by the body. Along with that they are recommending margarine over butter. On average margarine contains 14 ingredients,some of them man made, while butter contains 2 ingredients (cream and salt). It doesn’t take a genius to recognize something isn’t right about that recommendation. I would recommend Fat be included as a food group.

Where’s the sugar!?

My biggest issue with the Canadian Food Guide is the lack of information on sugar. Somewhere in there it said to limit it, but it does not address what “limit” means. Considering that the average Canadian eats about 80 pounds of sugar a year I would think it would be something they would want to address. We have an obesity, diabetes and heart disease epidemic on our hands but our food guide doesn’t address the role sugar plays in it. It should be stated clearly that sugar should be eaten as little as possible. I would set the limit at 20-30g a day of added sugar. Many people get that in their morning beverage run alone. Sugar is not an essential nutrient in the human body and literally contributes nothing to your health. There should also be information on the role sugar plays in causing inflammation in the body.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, I did not get into the politics that went on during the design phase of the food guide. We live in a corrupt society that is rooted in money. How do you think Coca-cola would react if the food guide started recommending a daily sugar intake that is less than a can of coke? How would Wonder Bread react if we only recommended 2-3 servings of grain a day? How would the entire dairy industry react if we didn’t include dairy as an essential food group? Whenever possible, follow the money. My next post will be a more concise piece on what we should eat and why.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

Why I Stopped Counting Macros

This is a topic I’ve been sitting on for a while. Counting macros is a very popular eating lifestyle, and I have many friends who do it. Last year I decided to try it and since then have changed my food philosophy.

What is counting macros/IIFYM?

IIFYM stands for if it fits your macros. If you look up the hashtag, you will find all sorts of people who have had weightloss success. It has been made even more popular by companies such as Working Against Gravity, and Renaissance Periodization. Counting macros means you are tracking your intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. There are many online calculators and templates that help you calculate how many grams of each macronutrient you need for your body type and goals.

breakfast-1804457_640

Why do people count macros?

Macro counting is most often used for weightloss. Knowing exactly what you’re eating makes it a lot easier to see where you may be going wrong. Everything is weighed on a food scale to be as accurate as possible. When I tried it I paid for a downloadable template and then entered my information, and it spit out the numbers. Most people who count macros will have less on rest days, and their numbers may vary based on the intensity of their workouts.

Why I stopped

I enjoyed the first few weeks of macro counting. I love experimenting so I was interested in seeing what it would do for me. I did notice that I leaned out a tiny bit over the 6 weeks, but nothing that wouldn’t happen with other minor changes. The first reason I stopped macro counting is that I would justify poor food choices because they fit my macros. I often found it easiest to have foods that weren’t good for me because it helped me reach my numbers. If I wanted to reach my carbohydrate goal I needed to add in much denser carbs than I was used to eating, and this did not go well for my belly. Most of my carbohydrates come from veggies and I feel much better this way. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against carbohydrates. Personally, I do not digest grains, which limits my carbohydrate choices. Second, if I had chosen to follow the plan I was given, I would go through a series of cuts to reach my goal weight. I did not have a goal weight, I just wanted to feel better. If I had followed it, I would have ended up as low as 1700 calories a day compared to my regular 2300-2500. At the end of the day, it wasn’t any different than just restricting calories. If you know me, you know that I believe there are healthier approaches than obsessing over calories.

Who does IIFYM work for?

Athletes: When your full time job is about performance, it makes sense to have your diet down to a science. Athletes also tend to be pickier about what they put in their bodies, and would care just as much about quality as quantity. They would also have a personal dietitian/nutritionist to help guide them through the process.

Performance Driven Individuals: In a world focused on weight, it can be difficult to focus on performance. If you are someone who is solely focused on performance, IIFYM may work for you. If you can have a healthy balance between quality and quantity, IIFYM can help keep you energized. It forces you to eat when you might otherwise skip a meal, this can go a long way towards reaching your goals.

What do I believe?

Macronutrients are important but micronutrients are equally as important. If you are not getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs, you will not function at your best. What you eat matters just as much as how much you eat. With my clients, and myself, my goal is to teach them intuitive eating. This takes time because many people do not recognize when they are hungry or when they are full. Teaching people to build well balanced meals with lots of nutrient dense food is my mission. I want to teach people to listen to their bodies rather than having to count every single calorie they consume. Food is fuel, we HAVE to give our bodies what they need!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Why I Don’t Like Cheat Meals

I hear it all the time. I’ll be working out or talking to someone about nutrition, and they will say, “On Saturdays I have a cheat meal/day.” It drives me crazy. Not because I don’t think having a treat is important, but because I dislike the implications that come with “cheat.”

IMG_3696

“Cheat Meal” implies that your current diet doesn’t satisfy you
If all week you think about what you’re going to eat on Saturday, that tells me you aren’t enjoying what you eat every other day of the week. This implies that whole healthy food is something you feel you have to eat rather than choose to eat. This also implies that while you’ll force yourself to down vegetables and fruit during the week, when Saturday night comes you can finally eat something “yummy.” Slowly over time, this is going to cause a mindset shift that many people have trouble changing. I used to be one of these people. I used to live for the weekend when I could have whatever I wanted. Often this led to binge eating multiple treats that my body had not had all week. This led to a huge rise in blood sugar followed by a sugar crash that took me a couple of days to get over, and was followed by increased cravings for more sugar. This usually meant that 3-4 days out of the week were spent waiting for my body to recover from the stress I had caused it. I then had 3 days where I felt great, and then I did it all over again.
People frequently do this with alcohol. They won’t have any during the week, but they will get smashed on the weekend. Sadly, our society sees this as normal, and we often joke about how much we drank. We all know that more than one glass of alcohol often does more damage than good, but rather than have a drink on Wednesday when we are offered a glass at a birthday dinner, we will wait until Saturday and drink a whole bottle of wine. When people tell me they want to lose weight/lower blood pressure/feel healthier, one of the first things I want to know is how much alcohol they drink. Often if I lower their alcohol intake, they see a big difference before making any other changes to diet or exercise routine.

IMG_3697

Why can’t you enjoy what you eat during the week?

Why isn’t a dinner of salmon, sweet potatoes, and mixed veggies enough? Why when you’re having a mixed berry protein smoothie do you feel the need to dream about Saturday’s cheat meal? While there are varying reasons for this, I think one of the main reasons is that we have convinced ourselves we cannot live without these foods we call “cheats.” We believe we cannot be satisfied by fruit, veggies, and meat. We have convinced ourselves that in order to consistently eat well we need to have these “cheat meals.”

You can’t cheat health
People have been trying to cheat health for years. They’ve invented diet pills, shakes, fat loss machines, etc,… and none of them have had results superior to living a healthy life. Your body is smart, and it will do its best to keep you healthy, but it can’t do it without your help. Your body is the ONLY body you get on this earth. You have to live in it until the day you die. How you treat it will determine your quality of life.

So when can I have treats?
Guess what? No one is telling you what you can or cannot eat. I can tell you what I think you should eat, but I can’t force you to do it. Start by acknowledging the fact that you get to decide what you eat. Second, when considering eating something you don’t normally eat ask yourself if you have given your body all the nutrients it needs that day. If you think back and realize you haven’t had enough protein, go eat the protein, and then ask yourself if you still want the other food. Often our cravings are a signal of an imbalance in the body. The more you listen to what your body is really saying, the healthier you will be. When I don’t get enough sleep I crave sugar. If I just take a nap I wake up feeling better than if I eat a whole bag of fuzzy peaches for fast energy. Choose the best option. Rather than jumping right to a Hershey chocolate bar make up some delicious dark chocolate peanut butter balls (recipe coming soon). At the end of the day there is nothing wrong with having a treat every once in a while if you know your body can handle it. Often life presents us with these treats without us looking for them. I find it best to just stock my fridge and cupboard with food that fuels my body for the better. This way if I’m at a birthday party and am offered a treat, I will have one guilt-free knowing my body has everything it needs. Stop living for the weekend and enjoy giving your body what it needs every day.

Eat your veggies!

Charity

 

A Personal Experiment: I Went Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Yeast Free And Sugar Free For Four Weeks.

Just to be clear, I was already gluten-free. So for me, this was a dairy-free, sugar-free, and yeast-free diet. I embarked on this adventure to help rid my body of yeast candida. While I did not have the typical sign of a yeast infection, I was constantly battling with dark, brown spots covering my back. They would come and go, and my doctor confirmed it was a fungal infection, so I was prescribed an anti-fungal cream (vagisil). I would apply the cream to my back for a few days and the spots would disappear. A few weeks to months later they would reappear and I would have to do it all over again. Now I don’t know about you, but I got tired of all the pity looks the cashiers would give me every time I had to purchase another tube of that stuff.

I knew what I had to do from my own research, but I consulted my Natural Path first. She suggested a 4+ week diet free of the foods I listed above. The idea is that you starve the yeast so that it dies. She also prescribed an oral anti fungal to be taken three times each day, and a probiotic at night to replenish any good bacteria that got killed off. She also warned me that for some people it takes longer than the 4-6 week period to kill off the yeast.

Charity CF SUds

What is the yeast candida diet?

The yeast candida diet is all about eliminating foods that feed the yeast. Anything that may have mold is eliminated. Anything that is a fungus (mushrooms) is eliminated. Most foods that contain sugar are eliminated. To keep the sugar content low, the only carbohydrates I ate were vegetables, berries and green apples. All other fruits, starches, and sugar products were left out for the duration of the 4 weeks. It is very common for people with celiac disease/digestive disturbances to develop yeast infections more frequently than those who don’t. Recent speculation in the medical community is that there may be a strong connection between the two. Many people with celiac disease have reported significant improvement in lingering symptoms when on this particular diet.

What about the science?

I hear this a lot. People always want to know where the science is. Interestingly enough, there are not a lot of studies done on nutritional changes that don’t make the government/food industry investors any money. We know from recent evidence that the sugar industry paid off certain studies to make fat look like the bad guy. We know that since high carbohydrate/low fat diets have been recommended, obesity and chronic disease are on the rise. We know that when the food guide was first recommended, the people who helped decide what the entire country was going to eat were also major share holders in the vegetable oil, dairy, and sugar industries. I’m not trying to convince you of a conspiracy theory, but I do believe we need to be somewhat responsible for our own health. Be proactive when it comes to your health, and listen to your body. If you have ongoing health issues, doesn’t it make sense to take a look at what you put in your body everyday? Don’t trust someone solely based on the fact that they wear a white coat, or have a certain amount of education. Do your own research as well, and stand up for yourself when necessary.

45434B98-B611-4673-B1D1-F49F5443BA13

The Results

I was very strict while following this diet. I never caved in to sugar. I had a few gluten-free pretzels when things got tough, and a few bites of white potato here and there. Overall this was the closest I’ve ever stuck to anything! The first week was rough, because my body was used to the regular amount of carbs (40-50%) in my diet, and now it only made up 15-20% of my diet, with the rest being (mostly) fat and protein. My body did not know what fuel source to use, so during workouts I felt lethargic and achy. This only lasted a few days. By week two I felt amazing. I felt a huge decline in inflammation. Anyone with an autoimmune disease will tell you that inflammation is one of the symptoms that tends to linger. My wrists stopped hurting when I was lifting, and my knees stopped hurting while I was squatting. Dan, my husband, said I was “glowing” and looked healthier than he had ever seen me. It only got better. By week three, I was setting PR’s (personal record) in the gym. I hit a 155lb OHS at 152lb body weight and got my mile time back down under 8min. I set personal records on my strict gymnastics moves as well. The most noticeable change for me was my clarity of thought. Brain fog is something I struggle with regularly. It has been getting better over the past nine months since I went off the BCP. This month, while I was on the diet, it was like it got kicked into overdrive.  It felt like I had drank a whole pot of coffee. My thoughts were coming in so fast I was trying to do everything all at once. After a few days I got used to it and was able to use it to get a lot of work done. The four weeks ended with a trip to Sudbury for a CrossFit competition. I had a few bites of a cupcake the night before and could NOT go to sleep until 1:30am, and then woke up at 4am wide awake. My body did not know what to do with the sugar. This trend continued over the weekend even though I did not indulge as much as I could have. It became pretty clear to me that my body reacts more than most to sugar and dairy. This is not an uncommon finding among many people.

What now?

I have decided to continue for at least a couple more weeks to ensure that the yeast is gone. Once that has been accomplished I hope to continue on a similar nutrition path, as this is working for me so far. I won’t worry about the occasional treat like I do right now, but it has shown me that my body is capable of more when I give it what it needs, and avoid the foods that bother me. I want you to keep in mind that I have an autoimmune disease. I have met many other people with autoimmune diseases who find this style of eating to be the least damaging to their body. If you do not have an autoimmune disease, your body can probably handle a lot of the food that my body can’t. You may not notice as big of a difference as someone who struggles with autoimmune-related inflammation. I do think that many of us eat more sugar than we realize in a day. I know I did. Trying to cut back on the added sugar in your diet and replacing it with healthier options certainly can’t hurt you.

Eat Your Veggies

Charity

*Eatreal4life will be open for business very soon, I am so excited to help you on your health journey. I will be taking a limited number of clients every month in order to ensure that each person gets the attention and accountability they need. If you would like to be one of the first people notified of the business start date, you can enter your email to the right hand side in the “follow this blog” box.

 

Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

 “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

-Hippocrates

With low-carb diets being sold on the market, carbohydrates have been given a bad name. You probably have a friend who has tried one of the many low-carb diets offered, or perhaps you have tried it yourself. Most people are pleasantly surprised when at first their weight seems to be melting off their body, but when the diet is over and they return to their normal eating, they gain back the same, or more, weight. You may have also heard of high-carb diets. Many athletes consume high amounts of carbs, and they look great. So why can’t you? This blog post will hopefully give you a better understanding of how carbohydrates work in the body, and what lifestyle changes pertaining to them may be best for you.

cake-1776661_1280

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients essential to the growth and maintenance of the human body. Carbohydrates come to us mainly from plant-based sources such as vegetables, fruit, grain, etc. This also includes sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, and sugar. Quite often when we hear the word carbs, we think of bread, fries, sweets, and many other high sugar foods. We don’t often consider that most foods are in fact carbohydrates, just in different forms. Carbohydrates, along with fat and protein, are an important part of a healthy diet, and when used properly can be of huge benefit.

When carbohydrates enter the body they are being broken down into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the small intestine, and then into the blood stream. The blood stream carries it to the liver, or to the muscle where it is stored as glycogen. Glycogen is a crucial part of ATP synthesis (energy production). When you exercise, especially at high intensities, glycogen is easily accessible to produce ATP.

If you do not eat enough carbohydrates you will not have enough stored energy, and as a result, you will feel like you hit a wall, and will have to slow down sooner than you would like. If you eat too many carbohydrates you will have a spike in blood sugar, and then a very noticeable drop. This is when the pancreas has been notified to release insulin to keep your blood sugar from getting too high. When insulin is released it causes the body to store the sugar as fat. This is the safest way for the body to deal with the excess sugar. This is why protein paired with carbohydrates is ideal. Protein does not have the same affect on blood sugar as carbohydrates, as it actually helps stabilize it. When consumed with carbohydrates, protein can help slow down the digestion of the sugar, causing its release to be slowed down into the blood stream.

asparagus-1307640_1280

Glycemic Index

Herein lies the catch. Not all carbohydrates affect blood sugar at the same level. A donut is going to cause a bigger spike in blood sugar than an apple. Rice is going to cause a bigger spike than broccoli. This can be quantified using the glycemic index. The glycemic index assigns a number to each food based on its affect on blood sugar. The lower the number, the less effect it has. The higher the number, the larger the increase in blood sugar. You can lower a food’s glycemic index by pairing it with a lower glycemic food, or adding protein and fat to your meal. Lower glycemic foods are a lot higher in fibre, which is the main reason they do not affect blood sugar as significantly. Fibre slows down digestion, meaning that sugar is gradually released rather than dumped very quickly into the blood stream. This is why eating vegetables and whole grains are so important, as they are high in fibre. Athletes can get away with eating higher glycemic index foods because they use up so much energy during training. If they don’t keep the energy demands met, they notice a drop in performance. Most of us don’t need high amounts of carbohydrates, we need a good balance between all three macronutrients.

So what about low-carb diets?

There are dozens of popular low-carb diets on the market. They claim that the best way to lose weight is to cut out carbohydrates, and increase your fat and protein intake. Over time, a low ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein forces the body to find a new energy source. The body starts to use fat, which is known as ketogenesis. This is when many people see weight loss. The issue is that for most people this diet is not sustainable. Many people will commit 2-3 months of cutting out carbohydrates, and notice positive changes. When they return to their regular diet, and begin adding carbohydrates back in, their body does not know how to respond to all the sugar being dumped into the blood stream. It has adapted to using fat as fuel, so instead of using the sugar as immediate energy, the body stores it as more fat. This is when people notice the weight they lost being rapidly put back on. Often, they will go a few months, and then return to the low carb diet, and continue that cycle. This is known as yo-yo dieting, which can be detrimental to the metabolism, eventually leading to minimal weight loss no matter what diet they try. That being said, I have known people who chose to remain low-carb all the time, and are very happy with the results. As of yet, there have not been enough studies conducted to determine what long-term effects this type of lifestyle can have.

So what should I eat?

When choosing carbohydrates, you want to choose slower digesting carbs more often, which are lower on the glycemic index. A few examples include:

Vegetables

Whole Grain (considered a medium glycemic index)

Sweet Potatoes

Legumes

Basmati rice (considered medium glycemic index)

Popcorn

Some you want to use sparingly:

White bread

Candies/Sweets

Potato chips

Fruit Juice

Pop

When you do indulge in a food that is higher on the glycemic index try to balance it out with protein and fat. This will help balance out the blood sugar so that less is stored as fat.

Tip:When looking at your dinner plate try to have half of it filled with veggies, a quarter with protein, and another quarter with a starchier carbohydrate (rice, potato, noodles etc.). Don’t forget your fat, whether its some oil added to the veggies or a couple almonds on the side, they are just as necessary as the other nutrients.

appetite-1238636_1280

Keep eating your veggies!

Charity

%d bloggers like this: