Carbohydrates: complex vs simple and why we need them

To carb or not to carb That is the question. For many looking to lose weight, they tend to turn towards diets that are low in carbs, or cut out carbs completely. But this is not necessarily the best way to lose weight. Especially since we need carbohydrates in order to exercise and fuel our…

Carbohydrates: complex vs simple and why we need them was originally published on Self Evolve

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To carb or not to carb

That is the question. For many looking to lose weight, they tend to turn towards diets that are low in carbs, or cut out carbs completely. But this is not necessarily the best way to lose weight. Especially since we need carbohydrates in order to exercise and fuel our muscles properly. But rather than reaching for that bowl of cereal or box of Oreos, I’m going to share some healthy, complex carbs you should incorporate into your daily meal-plan.

Complex Carbohydrates

Next time you’re in the kitchen, whip up some of these quick and easy food items to incorporate complex carbs in your meal.

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread
  • Fruit (especially when you can eat the skin for extra fiber)
  • Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin)
  • Beans, lentils, and split peas
  • Popcorn (just skip the salt and butter and use spices instead)
  • Quinoa, bulgur, and millet

Simple Carbohydrates

Things to cut back on include the following:

  • Sodas and juices high in sugar
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Chips (sorry guys!)
  • Candy
  • Added sugar
  • White bread
  • Cereal

Be sure to read labels and look for how much sugar is in the food item prior to buying it. It’s best to aim for lots of complex carbohydrates and to not over-indulge in the simple carbs.

What’s your favorite carb?

 

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Carbohydrates: complex vs simple and why we need them was originally published on Self Evolve

How to avoid Thanksgiving feast food coma: Holidays

The Holidays are here Do you hear the sleigh-bells ringing? Are they glistening? Or is that just the turkey basting in the oven? If you’re anything like me, you’re licking your lips as you imagine yourself chowing down during this Holiday season. But with a big meal comes a big post-meal nap. And for some…

How to avoid Thanksgiving feast food coma: Holidays was originally published on Self Evolve

The Holidays are here

avoid Thanksgiving feast food comaDo you hear the sleigh-bells ringing? Are they glistening? Or is that just the turkey basting in the oven? If you’re anything like me, you’re licking your lips as you imagine yourself chowing down during this Holiday season. But with a big meal comes a big post-meal nap. And for some of us, this may interfere with our Holiday shopping plans. I’m here to tell you how you can avoid Thanksgiving feast food coma.

Eat throughout the day

Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast in lieu of an extra-large dinner! Just be smart about what you eat: stick to some protein like eggs or yogurt to hold you over until the big feast. Starving yourself all day just to gorge out at your Aunt Marge’s house is not a good idea! Be smart, and don’t starve yourself. This will also help you to not over-indulge on sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Try to eat a balanced diet

avoid Thanksgiving feast food comaEat more than just the carbs! Stuffing and potatoes are great, but get your protein in too! Be sure to eat a healthy amount of turkey (or tofurky, for you vegans out there) in addition to those carbs. This way, you will feel full faster and hopefully avoid the itis. The I just turned into Frankenstein I’m so stuffed itis. The I just took a 5 hour long nap itis. All the things that make you miss out on life post-holiday mealtime, i.e. Black Friday. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated! This will also help you eat a more moderate amount.

What if it’s too late to avoid Thanksgiving feast food coma?

At the end of the day, I’m not going to tell you to not indulge! We only have a huge feast like this once a year, right? Or, if you’re like me, you hit multiple family member’s houses to get your Thanksgiving portion doubled or tripled in one day. Thanksgiving has historically been one of my favorite holidays, only because I love to eat. And eat I do. So eat away! And even if you fall into a slump afterwards, I say more power to you! BUT, I am going to challenge you to workout the next day! Most of us get the day after Thanksgiving off, and while some of us go shopping, Black Friday is a great day to hit the gym! Almost no one’s there (uh, empty gym? yes please!) and you can sweat out those extra calories you consumed the day before. If you’re not a gym junkie like me, at least go for a nice, long walk!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?

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How to avoid Thanksgiving feast food coma: Holidays was originally published on Self Evolve

Carb loading and running

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Eat a mountain of pasta the night before a race!” Even to this day, I have people ask me if I’m going to eat pasta before the big race I’m training for. I’m here to break apart this old, nauseating thought that we somehow need pasta to run…

Carb loading and running was originally published on Self Evolve

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Eat a mountain of pasta the night before a race!” Even to this day, I have people ask me if I’m going to eat pasta before the big race I’m training for. I’m here to break apart this old, nauseating thought that we somehow need pasta to run far.

Carbohydrate loading can help you. What is carbo loading? It’s a strategy involving changes to training and nutrition that can maximize muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores prior to endurance competition. Athletes believe that by loading the muscles with glycogen, they can prevent hitting the “wall” and hopefully allow them to run at their desired pace for longer. It has the potential to improve performance by 2-3%, if done properly. The issue is, a plate of pasta isn’t carbo-loading. Follow these simple steps to properly carbo-load:

  1. Don’t skip the carb depletion phase. 7 days prior to the event do a long or strenuous workout which will deplete your body of glucose. For the next 3 days maintain a lower carb diet of 35 to 50% of total calories. For the final 2 days prior to the race switch to 75% of calories from carbohydrates, while dramatically decreasing overall work volume (the other 25% is largely protein).
  2. Avoid simple carbs! Don’t eat junk food, and avoid sugar. Ideal carbo-loading foods: potatoes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains. If you have trouble with high fiber/runners trots, look for options like sourdough bread with honey or sweet potatoes.
  3. Don’t carbo load for short distance races. 5K or 10K? Too short! Carbo loading is only needed if you’ll be running OVER 90 minutes. I would even argue that it’s not necessary for a half-marathon but should be done for a full.
  4. Don’t load for too long, only do it for about 2 days prior to the race. The rest of the time before the race? Not loading! Don’t load up for a week, that is just un-necessary.
  5. Don’t freak out over the weight gain. Carbs make you retain water, which is needed for race day! Don’t even worry about that number on the scale, unless you’re ignoring step #2 and eating cookies.
  6. Don’t skip your last load due to nerves. You want that race morning fuel! You must give your muscles that last boost of glucose to help prevent energy lulls, mood swings, and fatigue. Aim to 1-3 grams of high quality carbs, low fat and low fiber – oatmeal with banana or yogurt with fruit if you can stomach it.
  7. Don’t eat that pasta dinner! One large meal of carbs is NOT carbo-loading and for many people it has the opposite effect of what they desire.

Of course, at the end of the day, everyone is different. You have to find what works best for you. Personally, I haven’t carbo-loaded before. But, I have also never ran a full marathon before. I usually eat before every race though. On the morning of a half marathon I eat fruit, drink lots of water, and drink some coffee. The week leading up to the half? I just focus on eating healthy: lots of veggies, fruits, healthy proteins and fats. Now that I’m training for the full marathon, I will be sure to pay more attention to what I’m putting into my body.

Food is fuel. And fuel is energy. Do you carbo-load? What do you eat before running? Or do you run on an empty stomach? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Carb loading and running was originally published on Self Evolve