Answer to Question of theWeek by Carlos

Posted: October 16, 2012 in Question of the Week

Carlos,

Thanks for the great question and thank you from viewing from CHINA! Obviously you have done your homework.  I am very familiar with the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet but I am unfamiliar with the Blue Print Book you mentioned.

Overall, I think you have thought this through pretty well and you have a good understanding of carbohydrates and the difference between carbs and sugar.  I will answer this question as best as I can, however, I am not a nutritionist and therefore I do not want to say too much as that would be practicing out of my realm of study.

None the less, this is what you need to know about carbohydrates.  Other than water, carbs may be the most important nutrient for human function.  Neurological function is almost completely dependent on carbohydrate as a fuel source.  Fat cannot begin the process of beta oxidation (fat metabolism) without the metabolic break down of carbohydrate.  Also, high intensity exercise is very much dependent on carbohydrate.  So, diets that vastly cut carbohydrate are not only unhealthy, but are very dangerous.  Therefore, you need to make sure you are getting enough carbohydrate whether you are active or not, and the more active you are, the more important this is.  Exercise science, and the dietary research I have read over the past 10 years has not changed too much despite the popularity of low carb diets over this time and this research recommends that 50-60% of your caloric intake comes from carbohydrate.

Now the big question is, where do you get your carbohydrates?  As you mention, many Asian cultures have lots of rice and lots of noodles in their diets.  Much of their diet is high carb and they are often times not obese, and generally healthy.  I am not exactly sure as to why this works for them.  However, I would take a look at their serving size, daily caloric intake totals, their diet outside of carbohydrate and their activity levels.  I would bet the people are more active, eat smaller portions, eat less calories each day and probably do not drink as much soda, eat as much junk food etc.  And by junk, I mean chips, candy bars, and SODA (or here in the south…schweet teeeeaaa…).  Also, look at how many vegetables are in their diet.  I feel this may be the key…vegetables.

Vegetables are where you should get your carbohydrates over noodles and rice.  Personally, I am trying to cut gluten out of my diet, so noodles and rice are generally not in a gluten free diet (minus a few exceptions).  However, I do not feel they are “bad” for you from time to time.  None the less, most of your carbohydrate should come from vegetables and some fruit.  Vegetables have lower levels of sugar generally, more fiber and more vitamins and minerals.  Fruit has more vitamins and minerals, however, they do have high sugar content.  So, if you are trying to cut out sugar (the worlds current health scapegoat), fruit would not be a great choice, although again, a serving or two of fruit a day will not kill you…Plus it’s better than eating ice cream!

So, to answer your question, your diet should be 50-60 % carbohydrate, much of this coming from vegetables.  The more you exercise the more you need to eat period, I would not change the percentage of carbohydrate (unless you are doing triathlons or marathons etc.) since you also need more fat and protein the more you exercise.  I hope this answers your question!

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