Fact 1: When you start your day with low-carb, your body will be burning what you eat for energy the whole day
Research has shown that your body needs more energy in the morning, so that the perfect time to eat carbs right?
Well, partly. Sure, you can eat your carbs. But the challenge with eating simple carbs is that it will spike your blood sugar. Because your body can only really take about a teaspoon of sugar at a time, which you’ve covered in your coffee.
So what happens to the rest of your carbs?
The graphic above gives a great overview. It basically gets stored in your body as fat. Insulin gets to work as the garbage collector to clear out the sugar from your blood stream. And it’s got to go somewhere. That ‘somewhere’ is into your fat cells.
And when you eat carbs in the morning, your body is basically going to be working off of excess blood sugar, and it will keep storing the sugar as fat.
Contrast this with eating less carbs in the morning. Specifically eating slow carbs that will not spike your blood sugar since they are slowly absorbed. No insulin goes to work because there’s no excess garbage (sugar in the blood) to be collected. That means, the energy that you slowly absorb from your food is now being burned as energy.
Fact 2: Fats are not making you fat, carbs are.
Your body burns fats but stores carbs. Fats have been given a bad rep over the years. Because most people assume that the fat we ingest just goes straight to out love handles and other parts of our bodies that we’d rather stayed fat-free. But that’s actually not how our metabolism works. In actual fact, fat is the most inert form of energy we can eat. This mean, it does not cause a spike in our hormones or insulin levels like carbs do.
See, the body converts carbs to sugars, and then the sugars to fat for storage or use for energy. Fat on the other hand, goes directly from the small intestines, to either the liver to be used for energy or into triglycerides that go to tissues that need it, mostly muscle tissue and fat, or adipose, tissue. No insulin involved.
All of your cells can use fatty acids for energy, with the exception of those in your brain, red blood cells and eyes. So rather than feeding the whole of body in the round-about route of sugars-fats-fatty acids/triglycerides, we need to be focussing on eating and burning fat directly and only eat enough carbs for our brain. A lower limit of 50g of carbohydrates a day is good target for weight loss and to make sure your brain is getting the energy it needs that can only come from glucose sugars, more for men. And guess what? That’s the equivalent of about 10 cups raw, or 5 cups cooked of the following non-starchy vegetables: asparagus, green beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, leeks, snap peas, zucchini and summer squash, and leafy greens. For weight maintenance target 100-150g. Here’s a more detailed table:
Fact 3: Not all carbs are created equal
Simple carbs are the worst offenders. They are quickly broken down and absorbed causing the offending insulin spike.
A study published in “ARYA Atherosclerosis” in 2008 found that when people replaced 30 grams of bread and20 grams of cheese in their diet each day with 50 grams of lentils and 6 grams of canola oil, they were able to decrease their fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This suggests that low-GI foods can be helpful for lowering blood sugar levels if you use them as a replacement for foods higher on the glycemic index, like bread or other refined grains.
Non-starchy vegetables contain about 5 grams of carbs per cup raw, or 1/2 cup cooked. You have a wide variety to choose from, including kale, spinach, green beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, leeks, snap peas, zucchini and butternut squash. Leafy greens contain 5 grams of carbs in the same serving too. Lentils and beans are slightly more starchy and contain about between two to four times more carbohydrates but with much more fibre that slows down the absorption. See the comparison below of beans, each in the quantity of 1/2 cup boiled.
Starchy complex carbs, while better than simple carbs, also contain a high amount of carbs which is not ideal for weight-loss. When your goals is weight maintenance, then they are a perfect addition to your diet.
Fact 4: Eating 80-90% of your foods as plant-based and complex carbs will leave you feeling full for longer
Want to know how to eat more and weigh less? Eat more plant-based whole foods including complex carbs.
They contain a large amount of insoluble fibre. This means that eating 1/2 cup of beans (119g) or 1/2 cup of lentils (99 g) and eating 3 slices of bread (90g) should all leave you feeling as full, if we judge by weight. But lentils will give you 2 times less the calories and the carbs, and 3 times the fibre. Beans on the hand will give you 1o times less the calories and carbs and both lentils and beans will have more nutritional benefits all round, take a look at the image below. Now 1/2 cups beans is a medium portion size for most people, it’s about all I can eat in one sitting when accompanied with side dishes, maybe 3/4 cup if I’m pushing it. But often most people can have more than 3 slices of bread without realizing they are full since it is not as nutritionally dense as beans or lentils are.
As you eat these foods, your stomach will work on the chewed volume of your food and will let you know when you are full. As the diagram below indicates, you get full faster from plant-based non-starchy vegetables and complex carbs. It’s time to get rid of all the empty calories and replace them with food that is good for you, and provides extra nutrition and energy.
Watch more about how you can eat more yet lose weight in this video from Nutritionfacts.com
Fact 5: Have a cheat day or carb-cycle to reset your metabolism
Restricted calories can evoke a ‘starvation’ response in our body, where our body’s metabolism slows down in order to burn less and ‘conserve’ energy. A new study of 14 contestants from the the Biggest Loser, a weight loss show in the US, shows how the participants gained back most of the weight after the show. The weight loss wasn’t sustainable because their metabolisms slowed down and never recovered.
To avoid this, reseting one’s metabolism by having carbs once a week is recommended, in a healthy way.
As different people will have different responses in their metabolism, follow these tips and tricks and be willing to adjust as needed. Eat a well-balanced diet on your cheat day and make sure to include sufficient protein and fat to balance the increased carbs intake.
Fact 6: Focus on building the habit by making it as simple as possible. Start with 4 meal combinations or change just one meal
We shall be taking this approach in the 30 Day Low ‘n Slow Carb Challenge. It’s hard enough deciding what to eat, so limit your choices to stay on track. My husband has been doing 100 Days of No Carbs and one thing we’ve learnt, keep it simple. If you look at the meal photos, you’ll realize certain meals are repeated most often. These tended to be the easier ones that we liked best. It’s hard enough deciding what to eat. When you omit white carbs from your meals, you may feel like you don’t know what to eat or that you don’t have a large enough variety in what you are eating. In actual fact, most people repeat the same general meals, we are creatures of habit. With low and slow carb, you are just choosing different defaults. The idea is to get about 4 combinations that you will rotate for the meals that you will be eating low carb. This will have the benefit of getting you into the habit with less stress and after that you can play around with your combinations. When starting out, change just one meal, you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it.
Fact 7: Being a part of community improves your chances of sticking to your chosen goal
Community has been shown to be a great motivator for change and helps us build habits we need. If you’re not joining the 30 Days Low ‘n Slow Carb Challenge starting June 1st, you’re missing an amazing opportunity to improve your health, and get your weight right, one day at a time in a supportive community. Join today, it’s free.