Nutrition - "No Carbs. No Good"


Here is a post from Heather Heefner, one of our instructors and a TCU Masters student in Exercise Science.  If you'd like to learn more about the nutritional services Heather can offer you, please feel free to call us or visit her website here.

No Carbs.  No Good.

“I am trying to lose weight so I cut all carbs out of my diet”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this phrase, and it makes my insides cringe. People think that losing weight means cutting out carbs, but in actuality cutting out carbs means losing energy, losing your competitive edge, and setting your body up for failure. The main fuel used in an athletic event, or for exercise is carbohydrate. Even for the average everyday exerciser, carbohydrates are essential.

As a dietitian, I am constantly listening to an endless stream of questions regarding what to eat, the newest fad diet, how to lose weight, what foods to avoid, new super foods, and what the latest diet craze is. I find myself almost begging people to eat carbs…especially athletes. Excess calories are fattening…NOT carbohydrates.

Did you know that carbohydrates help to maintain your blood sugar levels, fuel your brain and muscles, and provide energy for your workouts?  Carbs should be the foundation of every meal in order to help provide energy, create stamina and endurance! If your muscles do not get “fed” with carbs your muscle glycogen stores will be depleted, which results in muscle fatigue. Carbohydrates are the only food source that gets stored as muscle glycogen. Provide your body with the correct carbohydrates to adequately fuel your body. Make smart carbohydrate choices.

…so what carbohydrates are the best? By eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber you will feel satisfied, energized and better able to lose weight, perform and feel your best at the end of the day. Weight loss does not occur through cutting out carbohydrates or whole food groups. Weight loss occurs through perfect planning and mindful eating. Know what you are putting in your body. Know how much you are eating, and be aware of your intake. Not all carbs are created equal. Oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread, fruits and vegetables are excellent carbohydrate choices. Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms and highly processed carbohydrates are not. Choose nourishing carbohydrates that are high in fiber and lower in sugar to keep you satisfied, maintain your blood sugar levels, and provide your muscles with the fuel that they need. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients that protect your immune system, prevent high blood pressure, and provide antioxidants to the body.

Just because something is labeled “low carb” does not mean that it is healthy. If it is low carb, that generally means it has more sodium, more fat, and additional ingredients. Many low carb meals are high in saturated fat, and are higher in calories. You will not lose fat, or lose weight by eating a low carbohydrate diet. You are likely to gain weight from excess fat, sodium and calories.

Losing weight should be about becoming healthier, not just losing fat. If you are trying to change your body composition I recommend that you consume a diet that is balanced with 55 to 60% of carbohydrates. When you restrict carbohydrate you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, and you may end up over consuming later. Each meal should contain a carbohydrate, a protein and a fat source.

If you want to lose body fat, lose weight, or change your body composition, you should consult with a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition. A dietitian can develop a personalized eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle. Do not be fooled by those that call themselves “nutritionists”. Make sure you see someone who is a Registered Dietitian. You will learn how to fuel your body, maintain your energy levels, and meet your fitness and nutrition needs at the same time! You will not have to restrict food groups, or cut out anything. You will learn about smart choices, and how to eat to maintain your body for the rest of your life.

Eat Well. Eat Smart. Eat Balanced.