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Nutrition 201: Carbohydrates – The Starchy Overlords of Your Taste Buds

In the last post, we discussed calories and total energy balance. At that level of discussion we paused for naptime, hustled our friends for their juiceboxes, and retired to our beds in footy pajamas when it was all said and done.

At the next level of dietary importance we have macronutrients – that is, where your calories are coming from.  As mentioned in 101, there are 3 primary macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein, and fat. To reiterate, if your overall calorie intake is not in line with your goals none of this matters.

In this post, and the subsequent, we’re going to get to know each of the primary  “macros” as they’re often dubbed. In a friendly way; what their hobbies are, where they like to hang out, and how you can relate to them.

“The painting was a gift.”

For those of you who may be thinking about creeping into their bedrooms at night and asking if they’d like their portrait painted, now would be a good time to see yourself out.

Today we’ll talk carbohydrates. Let’s get down to it.

                                                                                        

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbs come in 3 basic varieties, simple sugars, complex carbs, and fiber.

The first two are the primary source of energy for the body. Really just simple sugars, because complex carbs are basically just simple sugars linked together.

Complex carbs take longer to break down and hit the bloodstream whereas simple sugars make it through much faster. For this reason, complex carbs are often deemed “healthier” because they release sugar into the blood at a slower and more manageable pace for your regulatory systems.

Fiber is a bit different, it’s importance comes not so much in that it provides energy, but in that it acts as “nature’s broom”, cleaning out all the crap ( quite literally) that has gotten stuck in your digestive track. It also helps to improve blood sugar management, improve blood lipid profiles and reduce risk factors associated with colon cancer.

Where can I find these “carbz” you speak of?

Carbs can be found in basically everything you eat aside from meat, butter and oil.

They’re much like The Blob, albeit without the insatiable thirst for death and destruction. Although that depends who you ask… we all know that asshole claiming carbs are the root of all evil.

To be a bit more specific- anything made with grains of any kind, flour, fruit, juice, sugar, or syrup will contain simple or complex carbohydrates.

Fiber can be found in most whole grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Basically, the foods that haven’t been processed in a factory have got that sweet, sweet fiber we all lust after. I mean… what?

How much should I eat?

There’s a lot of debate over what amount of carbohydrates is ideal. Which is idiotic.

That’s like debating which James Bond was best.

You stay classy, Mr. Bond.

I like Sean Connery, that accent is all that is man….

The point is that every person is going to be different and their body is going to have different preferences. The two things to consider are how active you are and if your goal is to gain or lose weight.

Let’s break it down, not literally, that would require rhythm and all the other qualities I’m deficient in.

Technically… you can live without carbs (deriving energy from fat and protein) but I don’t recommend it unless there is a diagnosed medical reason. In which case common sense tells you to listen to your doctor instead of some dude on the internet.

Most activity beyond what you’d do on a daily basis- so stuff like playing sports, surfing, biking, working out, is going to be fueled by carbohydrates. As such, active individuals are well suited to eating more carbohydrates than sedentary ones. They use more so they can eat more, simple as that.

If you’re a competitive athlete, I’d go as far as to say you need to eat a lot of carbohydrates.

The second variable to consider is your desire to gain or lose weight. I assume no one wants to lose muscle, so let’s specify that as building muscle and losing fat.

Someone looking to gain muscle would do well to follow the recommendations for an athlete.

Let’s say you want to lose fat, the first place you should start is by creating a calorie deficit like we discussed in Nutrition 101. You have two options, increase activity or decrease calorie intake, a combination of the two works as well.

If you decide that you want to decrease calorie intake, the first place most people should look to do that is by eating fewer carbs.

To put some numbers on things, most people’s diets should range in carbohydrate consumption from 0.75g/lb of bodyweight for a person looking for rapid fat loss, all the way to 2-3 g/lb of bodyweight for an active individual who is looking to gain muscle.

There are some extreme examples (the morbidly obese and athletes training 2x a day) that will fall out of that range but I didn’t include them since they’re outliers.

Much in the way you’d be the outlier who wants to be a pain in the ass and bring up those examples.

I kid, I kid, you know I love you.

If you’re looking for rapid fat loss, lean towards 0.75 g/lb of bodyweight.

If you’re looking to maintain your weight, somewhere in the 1 to 1.5 g/lb of bodyweight is going to be the sweet spot.

And if you’re all about the gainz, 2 to 3g/lb of bodyweight is my recommendation.

Hopefully this answered some of the questions you have on carbohydrates, in the next installment we’ll talk about protein in it’s many delicious forms.

If you have any further questions that you want answered, drop a comment below and I’ll take care of it for you.

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