There can be so much conflicting information everywhere regarding good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates, and high or low carbohydrate diets, particularly now the internet has grown and any “expert” can add their opinion as “fact”. I wanted to help clear up some of that confusion for you and give you my opinion which has served me well over the years.
First of all, I believe that one of the main causes of increased bodyfat, primarily in the western world, is that people are over-consuming processed refined carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, cereals, rice, fruit juices, etc. I am not saying that you should necessarily follow a low carb diet, but I do believe that these over processed carbs should be avoided. In addition to causing big blood sugar swings and insulin surges that stimulate direct body fat storage, eating too many of these carbohydrates can also increases your cravings and overall appetite.
After years of eating excess processed carbohydrates, it becomes harder and harder for insulin to do it’s job and continue handling all of this blood sugar, and insulin resistance and eventual type 2 diabetes can occur in many people.
I actually try to avoid all grains completely. This includes pasta, bread and rice, and yes, it includes whole grains as well – something which many people believe to be healthy. Instead, I aim to get my carbohydrates from vegetables, sweet potatoes, lentils, quinoa, and sometimes berries (NOT fruit juices which are packed with sugar)
If you are going to get any grains at all, focus on the most nutrient dense and fibrous portions of the grain… the bran and the germ. This means that the healthiest ideas are using oat bran instead of oat meal, and using wheat germ and rice bran by adding them to your salads, yogurt, cottage cheese, soups, smoothies, etc. This way you get all of the most nutrient dense parts of the grains without all of the excess starches and calories.
If you are used to consuming large quantities of cereals, bread, pasta, and other carbohydrate sources, and move to a lower carb diet, try replacing the carbs with additional healthy fats from avocados, guacamole, coconut oil, oily fish, nuts, seeds, nut butters as well as healthy proteins such as grass-fed raw dairy and grass fed meats, whole free-range organic eggs, etc. Healthy fats and protein sources go a long way to satisfying your appetite, controlling proper blood sugar and hormone levels, and helping you to make real progress on weight loss for life.
Whilst I consume vegetables throughout the day, I like to consume the majority of my carbs as soon as possible after training in the gym. I train in the evening and then will normally have sweet potato, quinoa or lentils with my dinner. Am I concerned about having carbs in the evening, before bed? Not one bit – and you shouldn’t be either – as long as you are eating the correct kind of carbs, i.e. not processed rubbish. In fact, carbs can help to improve the quality of your sleep!
After training is pretty much the only time I would recommend high GI carbs. I mix some Vitargo in with my post workout whey protein, and generally recommend doing this, especially for those looking to build muscle (not necessarily ideal for people whose main aim is burning fat).
Want some more info? Here’s a nice article I have found which discusses one of the most popular carbs – Potatoes, in particular the white variety.