Tag Archives: carbs

Counting carbs? Carbohydrate density matters most

725 carbohydrate density

If you are counting carbs to stabilize your blood sugar, lower inflammation, balance hormones, or lose weight, experts say looking at carbohydrate density is a more important strategy. Carbohydrate density measures how many carbohydrates are present per 100 grams of food. Low carb density foods don’t raise your risk of chronic disease.

Research shows eliminating dense carbohydrates from your diet improves health, prevents disease, and can even improve periodontal disease.

While many diets focus on how many calories or how many grams of carbohydrates you should eat per day, the carb density diet instead focuses on how many grams of carbohydrates are in a food once you subtract the fiber.

Ideally, you only want to eat foods under 23 percent carb density. More importantly, avoid carb dense foods.

Foods with low carb density include meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole nuts.

High density carbs include flours, sugars, breads, chips, rice cakes, granola bars, French fries, popcorn, and other fast and processed foods.

In a nutshell, if it has been processed, it’s going to be more carb dense.

Carb density in foods

Foods with low carb density contain the carbohydrates within cell walls. In these foods, carb density won’t go much beyond 23 percent.

In foods that are carb dense, however, such as flours, sugars, and processed grains, modern processing breaks apart cell walls so that carbs are much more concentrated, abundant, and hit the bloodstream more quickly.

Why high carb dense foods make us sick and fat

The human body was not designed to eat processed foods in which carbs and sugars have been busted out of their cells, concentrated, and able to quickly raise blood sugar.

Carb dense foods overwhelm the body’s cells with too much glucose. This causes cells to become resistant to the hormones insulin and leptin, both of which play a role in blood sugar regulation.

Insulin and leptin resistance in turn promote obesity, inflammation, accelerated brain degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, and hormonal imbalances — in essence, the foundation to the many chronic diseases of western civilization.

Why regular diets don’t work and the kinds of food you eat matters most

These days, plenty of research has demonstrated why diets don’t work in the long run for so many people. Calorie counting, exercising more but going hungry, extreme diets — these approaches may work in the short term but they pit the individual against primal survival mechanisms and can be metabolically and psychologically damaging.

Although opting for a diet that is made up of healthy meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts may seem severe initially, it quickly adjusts hormonal responses to food. This reduces cravings, boosts energy, and reverses inflammation — the diet makes you feel so good you no longer feel deprived. You may also find processed foods make you feel terrible, so they lose their appeal.

Ask me for more advice on how you can manage and even reverse chronic health conditions through diet, lifestyle, and functional nutrition protocols.

How to avoid those daily afternoon crashes

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Do your eyelids droop and does your energy flag every afternoon around 3 to 4 p.m? Is your answer to energy crashes a soda, coffee, energy drink, or sweet snack to sustain you until dinner? If so, you’re making a bad situation worse.

Even though it’s fairly common, the “afternoon crash” isn’t normal. Instead it’s a sign of unstable blood sugar  which wreaks havoc on the rest of your body’s systems. The afternoon crash means your blood sugar has dropped too low for your brain and body to function normally, causing you to become drowsy, mentally foggy, tired, and unmotivated.

The first thing most people reach for is a quick fix — caffeine or sugar. These may wake you up for a while, but they send an already imbalanced blood sugar system into another roller coaster ride of peaks and plunges. When this happens on a regular basis (several times a day for most people), it sets you up for chronic blood sugar imbalances including hypoglycemia and insulin resistance, a precursor to adult-onset diabetes.

How to avoid the afternoon crash

Wondering how to survive until dinner without a croissant and tall double mocha?

1. High protein breakfast: Eat a high-protein breakfast with plenty of healthy fats such as olive, avocado or coconut oil; a minimum of carbohydrates; and no added sugars or sweeteners. This provides your body with the necessary nutrients to bring it up to speed after a night of fasting (thus the word “break fast”), and allows your blood sugar to stabilize and get on a steady plane for the day.

Two examples:

  • Turkey sausage with steamed greens and sweet potatoes.
  • Smoked salmon or two eggs with sliced avocado, sauteed vegetables, and half a baked yam.

The idea of a savory breakfast might sound strange if you’re used to cereal or toast, but your body will quickly thank you for it. You’ll also notice a difference at 3 p.m.!

2. Minimize fruit, high-carb foods, and added sugars: Every time you eat fruit, high-carb foods (such as white rice, bread or noodles), and added sugars, you spike your blood glucose and the body has to struggle to bring it back into balance. Do this too often or too dramatically, and you can damage your body’s ability to handle glucose properly, causing hypoglycemia and/or insulin resistance (yes, you can have both at the same time). Blood sugar imbalances also create a hard-to-fight cycle of craving and bingeing. 

TIP: Always eat a bit of protein or fat when you have something sweet to slow down the uptake of glucose and a blood sugar spike.

3. Energy crash? Eat smart: If you find yourself slipping into the afternoon blahs, don’t reach for stimulants or sugar, no matter how much your brain shouts for them. Instead, grab a snack high in protein and healthy fats, with perhaps a bit of healthy carbs included. This powers your brain with useful nutrients and avoids the blood sugar crash that follows a caffeine or sugar binge. And don’t forget — if you have a mid-morning snack, the same rules apply. Two snack examples:

  • A quarter cup of pecans and a handful of plantain chips.
  • A boiled egg with sliced carrots and avocado.

TIP: prep your morning and afternoon snacks each night before bed, so you can bring them to work and avoid the panicked rush to the café or candy machine.

4. Caffeine in moderation: Caffeine is hard on your adrenal glands, the glands that manage how you deal with stress. If you would rather give up your right arm than your daily cuppa, just make sure you drink that coffee early in the day, and make it a single shot. Even better, learn to love a healthy, brain-energizing drink such as kombucha or a veggie smoothie. They make great conversation starters at the water cooler, too!

Follow these guidelines and you’ll find yourself easing out of those afternoon crashes. Your energy will be more consistent throughout the day and you won’t feel the need to resort to snacks that spike and crash your blood sugar, brain function, and energy level. Feeling doubtful? Try it for a week and then decide.

Seven reasons exercise recovery can be difficult

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If recovering from exercise is so difficult it feels like it’s ruining your days and sapping your motivation, you may be suffering from loss of exercise tolerance. Exercise is supposed to make you feel better and give you more energy, not make you feel worse.

The occasional off day is nothing to worry about, but if you find you’re consistently having a hard time handling your workouts, it’s important to find out why.

Symptoms of poor exercise recovery

  • Can’t complete normal workouts
  • Difficulty recovering after exercise
  • Need a nap after exercise
  • Unexplained depression
  • Loss of general motivation or enthusiasm
  • Unexplained change in weight
  • Aggression or irritability for minor reasons
  • Weakened immune function
  • Loss of menstrual cycle
  • Symptoms of leaky gut

Seven things that can cause poor exercise recovery

1. You’re overtraining: It’s possible you’re simply taking too much on during your workout. Anyone can make this mistake. Try backing off for a couple weeks; if your symptoms change, overtraining could be your answer.

2. Your body wants a different kind of workout: Ways to exercise include extended aerobics, high intensity interval training, and weight training. Try a different form of exercise for a few weeks and see how you feel.

3. Insufficient protein intake: The U.S. RDA for protein is .08g per kg of body weight per day (1 lb = 2.2 kg). Macronutrient requirements vary depending on age, health, and diet, but for some this may be too little to recover. Many active people feel better eating protein at rate closer to 1.4 to 1.8g/kg daily. Do the math and experiment with your protein intake.

4. Inappropriate carbohydrate intake: How many carbohydrates one should eat is a controversial topic, but at the end of the day we’re all unique. If you frequently feel run down you may be eating too many carbs…or too few. Too many carbs can cause blood sugar to skyrocket and plummet so energy levels crash. Too few can short you on fuel so that energy lags. This is especially true if you have adrenal fatigue and are struggling to adapt to a low-carb diet. Experiment adjusting your carb intake with healthy produce-based carbs, such as sweet potatoes.

4. Not enough sleep: Sleep is key to exercise recovery. Are you getting the recommended seven to nine hours a night? If you’re having unexplained sleep problems, ask me for advice as many health issues can cause poor sleep.

5. Micronutrient deficiencies: Staying well nourished can be difficult if you’re busy. If your body is low in vital nutrients such as Vitamins D and B12, iron, and other minerals, it can affect your ability to recover from exercise. Ask my office about making sure you’re meeting your micronutrient needs.

6. Low adrenal function: Your adrenal glands are the walnut-sized glands atop each kidney that manage your body’s ability to deal with stress. Americans are stressed out and as a result many people suffer from compromised adrenal function  This is a common cause of constant exhaustion and an inability to recover from exercise. If you’ve lost your get-up-and-go, adrenal function is one of the first things to consider.

7. Chronic inflammation: If you have an autoimmune disease that is not being managed or that is constantly flaring, or if you suffer from chronic inflammation, this will hamper your ability to recover. Examples of autoimmune disease include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, type 1 diabetes, or psoriasis. Symptoms of chronic inflammation can include joint pain, digestive difficulties, inflamed skin, or brain fog. If your body is already struggling to function in the face of chronic inflammation, exercise will put it over the edge and recovery will be difficult.

These are some common factors that can hamper exercise recovery, although there are many more, such as compromised thyroid function or a defect in your MTHFR gene, which plays a role in detoxification and metabolism. Untreated MTHFR can affect energy levels. Fortunately, it’s easy to diagnose and treat.

Any time you notice a change in your energy level or ability to recover from exercise, there is a reason. Don’t push it, and don’t ignore it. Ask me for support in helping you find underlying causes of poor exercise recovery so you can feel and function better.