Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I ate two pieces of homemade bread this morning. I was just too excited about each of the two loaves that I made yesterday and I couldn't decide. To round it out, I had some egg whites with veggies, and some fresh fruit. The star of the show was the bread though.

That got me thinking about the last 5 months and how I've approached 'weight loss' in the past. I've always tried to keep my intake of grains very low. Sometimes it's hard to get past things you hear over and over and over again. Carbs = bad.

The truth is that carbs aren't good or bad. It's not that cut and dried. First we have to talk about the different types of carbohydrates and what carbohydrates really are and how to separate the good from the bad.

So think of carbohydrates in terms of fuel. It acts as a source of energy for the body. Like in the fuels we use in the world, there are slow-burning fuels and fast-burning fuels. Otherwise known as simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are absorbed, broken down and burned off in our bodies faster. The reason this is  'bad' is that you're not getting the most energy possible from it. Sort of like burning a piece of paper. It burns up super quickly and then you're left with smoldering ashes. Then poof! It's out and you're suffering from a post-lunch energy slump.

Pasta, bread, cereals, and baked goods made with white flour, sugar, candy, process foods (just about everything from fast food restaurants and the cookie/cracker aisle at the grocery store), soda, fruit juice and most syrups, milk products, white rice and others are examples of simple carbohydrates and should be eaten in small amounts or not at all, especially if the goal is weight loss.

Complex carbohydrates are closer to the idea of burning a log or a candle (when comparing it to that burning piece of paper). Most complex carbohydrates have more fiber and the reason this is important is that it slows down the absorption of these carbohydrates in your body. This helps in two ways: you will stay full longer, and you will have more energy to 'burn' from that food. This can help keep you satisfied and less likely to snack throughout the day. When you're talking about weight loss, that is a big deal.

Vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, etc), and pastas/breads/cereals made with whole grains (look for the stamp below when looking for whole grains because the wording can get confusing on the ingredients list) are examples of complex carbohydrates.

Now, I'm not an expert. This is just basic information and I'm sharing it because I'm still surprised at how little we seem to pay attention to what goes into our bodies. Maybe you already know all this and if so, great!

Here is some more information on the subject. 

Anyway, back to me. ;)

When I set about trying to become healthier the one thing I really wanted to do was not have to deprive myself of something that I loved. I was determined to be successful and depriving myself was not going to aid me in that. So I kept breads and grains in my diet. I made sure that they were made from whole grains and I tried to make sure I kept them at a reasonable percentage in my daily intake (with the majority of my complex carbs coming from fruits and veggies). I tend to stick with grains that are WHOLE when I buy them (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, etc) and to that I also enjoy whole grain and whole wheat bread. Pasta isn't as much of a favorite as oatmeal and bread so I don't eat it. In other words, I'd rather have bread. I pick my battles. We also don't limit ourselves to whole wheat flour when I bake. I use quinoa, oat flour, etc. They all work well in many recipes and give us a lot of variety.

And yes, I know that low-carb is all the rage but this works for me. I honestly don't believe I would have been as successful as I would have if I had said "okay, low carb it is".

Do you limit your carb intake? How do you limit it and what carbs do you tend to favor?

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