Ok, first, feel free to read here, I don’t mind. Just come back, will ya? Charlotte got me thinking about how our bodies are different. The study says men can get along just fine on carby diets, and it’s supposed to make us chickypoos at major risk for heart disease. Also keep in mind I’m a bit of a grumpypuss this week so ranting and barely edited dialogue forthcoming! This is but one person’s experience with carbohydrates (all health and fitness freaks, please recoil in horror instinctively…)
As for the research – I’m going to say different strokes for different folks. As a super active sporty fit kid and then serious gymnast, I gravitated towards an extremely carb heavy diet, all but vegetarian (a little meat in my pasta or rice or sandwich didn’t bother me, but I loathed the idea of a big steak or chop), and I ran on it extremely well.
The key component for me is the being super active and balanced. I’ve tried to limit my carbs and my body rebels, even after months. I’ve tried to up my protein and fat intake, and my body doesn’t respond positively or negatively (just makes it extremely hard to lose/maintain weight). I find that at a certain stage of half training I crave protein (the major heavy mileage/fast paced stuff) but at all other times it’s really unnatural for me to cram the stuff down my throat to the tune of 100g per day or more like the daily recommendations would have me do.
I don’t *get* the phenomenon that other people have told me (my mom for example) that when they have simple carbs they just go crazy wanting to stuff their face with them. For example, if we both opened a half gallon of ice cream at the same time, my parents might eat it in a few days. Same with our houseguests – she was pregnant, sure, but they went through a half gallon every 3 days or so and ALWAYS had some in the house. For us, we’ll have a measured serving every few days and it will probably get freezerburnt before it’s gone. We tend to only buy the “Ben and Jerry’s” size, which usually takes about a week.
I do get crazy with the sugar during the end/after half training. For that last month or so, I NEED the simple carbs to do what they do (not give me a super full feeling and get calories to my body quickly). Or I’m in danger of getting dizzy and almost passing out in the shower after an 11 mile run – note to self, when burning 1200 calories on about 100 consumed that day, EAT then stretch and shower. On training runs, you don’t eat complex carbs or protein or anything with nutrients (since it goes through you too fast to have any benefit), the only thing that matters is that it contains easily digestable calories, and a little caffeine if that’s your thing. Right after really hard workouts, you ALSO need some easily digestable calories. I know there are records of distance runners out there operating on lo carb diets, but I can’t imagine it. It would definitel have to be a VERY DELIBERATE choice and take months/years of training, weaning yourself off carbs, and I just can’t see enjoying that. At all.
However, what happens after a race is my body takes a while to realize that I’m no longer stressing it out so much, so the appetite is there, and I do get a little of the sugar addiction just because I’m putting so much more than normal in my body. I normally have a /sweets off switch. I eat a little, it makes me feel a slight bit nauseous (usually at or just below whatever 1 serving is on the package) and then I leave it alone. During the end/right after I lose that ick switch so I have to go through a period of detox where I have to smack the chocolate chips out of my hand sometimes and it is just about impossible to refuse cake in the in the breakroom at work. After a week or two going mostly cold turkey, I’m good though to resume normal operations. For example the cavalcade of comfort food coming through the office this week (cookies! doughnuts! cake! more cake! leftover easter candy!) has been tempting, but avoidable. As much as I’ve been bitching about it on twitter. I mean seriously people, you must have Quix-diet-dar and be trying to send me into a tizzy… sigh…
It’s a touch different with salty carbs (which have always been my weakness), but beyond the potato chip devil (seriously, one serving per day until they are gone… and that takes restraint), I’m not tempted to binge at all. I certainly have had instances of eating way more than a serving, but it usually includes being at a party, being genuinely hungry, and a liberal dose of booze. But as I discussed earlier in the week, for the same calories of food, I don’t feel full without my side of mashed potatoes, or rice, or bread. A sandwich with 4 oz of turkey (even if it’s not whole grain bread) is more satisfying and filling to me than an 8 oz steak. I eat and enjoy whole grain/brown stuff when I can because I know it’s healthier and I genuinely enjoy stuff like my sprouted grain bread, but I don’t feel negatively affected if I have a delicious turkey on sourdough.
My main problem is the “stand in front of the fridge and stuff my face” – for some reason those calories don’t register the same (and they certainly don’t count in my head the same), and they’re hard to track. Two turkey pepperoni, a pinch of lowfat shredded cheese, a spoonful of leftover veggies, some baby carrots, a melba cracker, some pop chips, a bite of jerky, and a few pistachios – how do you quantify that? However, if you look at the general combination of the snack, it’s generally healthy – a little lean protein, a little good fat, some fairly decent carbs, and some veggies. If I could put that all on a plate, go sit down, and enjoy it as a snack, I’d feel full and life would go on. I’m working on it. But I don’t just cozy down with a bag o empty calories – I’ve tried, I get half a serving in and realize how many calories and how UNFULL I am and put it back.
Then, there is the mental wellness and happiness aspect. The idea of lo carb makes me want to crawl in a corner, rock back and forth, and cry. Getting me to do anything productive or active without some bread or noodles is like pulling teeth. Now, I won’t tell you how to live your life. Rock on with your Atkins or primal. Enjoy hissing at potatoes and calling everything not sprouted “yicky white bread” like my moms. Toss your hamburger buns in the trash and pick at your sandwiches sans bread. I just won’t be joining you and damned if I’m going to feel bad about it anymore.
I’ve been told I act/think like a male type brain (whatever that means) anyway, maybe I’m just wired differently. As the article says.
Have a crazy carb binge story? Think I’m full of crap and just making excuses and I’m subconsciously killing myself slowly with yicky white bread? Anyone else just not *get* the “carbs are the devil” mentality this decade? And have successfully lost/maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle unaffected by whether you choose white or wheat?