Carbs Aren’t as Bad as Ya Think

Everybody always tells me that they don’t eat carbs because they are trying to lose weight.   Those same people follow up with the question, “well what am I doing wrong?”   While I know this post can go on for pages regarding this subject, I decided to ask a science minded and well rounded sports dietitian who works with athletes and also with people with disordered eating and eating disorders, Kristy Morrell, RD.  It is such an honor having Kristy share her experiences with the JZ FITNESS readers in the interview below. Once you read this post, please shut your attention down to the myths and fads and new trends that lie before you and even those that lie behind you.  Education is power.  Using the education is even more powerful.

So without further ado, my lovely friend, Kristy Morrell (KM) on the role of Carbohydrates:

JZ: Define High GI vs Low GI

KM: This is a measure of how a carbohydrate containing food raises blood sugar. When I talk with athletes versus a private practice client this conversation is very different. My athletes need to know about nutrient timing and when they will best utilize this fuel. This is critical to implement before training and competition.

KM: For the average exercise enthusiast who isn’t training for 3-4 hours at a time, I go into more detail about what carbs are most efficient for them. For my athletes, High GI (or glycemic index or simple carbohydrates) are great for 30 minutes before, during and in between matches.  Low GI (or more fibrous complex carbohydrates) are the more nutritious and filling choices for meals outside of training.  For my non-athletes, a low glycemic plan might be one to go with to keep the body young with less sugar and insulin spikes and more sugar regulation.  Examples of these low GI carbs include berries, apple, peach, pear, orange, grapefruit, dark green leafy vegetables and virtually all other vegetables.  The higher GI carbs that might benefit someone who is exercising for longer than an hour and wishes to follow the athlete’s carb timing includes whole grains, sweet potato, oats and quinoa.

JZ: So can a non-elite level athlete or exercise enthusiast get away with eating high glycemic carbs?

KM: With nutrient timing it is best to plan simple carbohydrates around a workout either before or after because they will be readily absorbed and used for repair by the muscles.  Otherwise, it is always best to keep the types of carbs consumed to low GI.

JZ: What is the benefit of staying off the high GI carbs?

KM: If someone does not work out very intensely, then they would want to in general have less high GI foods. And if they eat high GI carbs, then they should watch their portions.  In general, it is better to include a variety of vegetables, grains, and nutrient dense foods rather than eating simple carbohydrates.   Fiber and fat is what bring down the GI of foods and are beneficial to a healthy gut. As I mentioned before, if you at all every eat high GI carbs, then do so around your training routine since those carbs are more likely to be used for energy versus stored as energy (fat) at that time.

JZ: Do you believe that at a certain age people should avoid high GI carbs as much as possible and why?

KM: No. I think it depends on the person’s body and their training.  Pairing carbohydrates with protein, and eating well portioned meals is more important than avoiding them altogether

JZ:  Any debunks of myths about carbs that you wish to share?

KM: Carbs are not as bad as the media makes them out to be.  There are many diets that bash carbs such as Atkins, and then the low fat trends, followed by the high fat and no carbs dieting, followed by eat only vegetables, and the list goes on.  People love to have new and exciting information, but the truth is that while everyone’s body reacts differently, it is never a good idea to restrict carbohydrates especially with training.  Just control the amount of carbohydrates you consume at once, allow these carbs to come from their original source and practice balance with every meal including healthy fats and lean proteins too.

JZ: Thank you Kristy.  For those of you who would like a complete list of the high GI vs. low GI carbs and learn how to master your nutrition, download the JZ FTINESS NUTRITION app to your phone (iPHONE and ANDROID) and get coached right at your fingertips.