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Carbs: Friend or Foe?

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With the holidays quickly approaching, temptations are everywhere. From freshly baked rolls to casseroles to potatoes to cupcakes and cookies, these foods are hard to resist. 

We all love carbohydrates. When the Atkins diet became popular in the early 2000s, people turned against carbs, marking them the enemy. Atkins is a low-carb diet that limits the consumption of carbohydrates in an attempt to switch the body's metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy. This process is called ketosis.

I will admit that I hopped on the Atkins bandwagon when it became popular. Truth be told, I lost a lot of weight, but, it didn't last and I even put on more pounds than when I had started. The diet is so restrictive that it makes you go nutty, and when you try to incorporate carbs back into your daily life, the pounds start to pack right back on. I mean honestly, how long can you eat just the cheese off a pizza? The crust is the best part! 

Atkins Diet Review: 0 stars. 

I have learned over the years that it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle via diet and exercise. They go hand-in-hand. It is important to indulge when you want and remember that you can have anything in moderation. Don't deprive yourself. 

Now that I am an avid runner, I know how important my carbohydrates are. A balance between carbs and protein is of the utmost importance when training or working out. Both keep you happy, lively and full of energy. Carbs are not the enemy. I repeat. Carbs are not the enemy. 

Negative thinking about sugary, starchy, processed carbohydrates in the form of doughnuts, rolls and sugary cereals, is good because these are the carbs that you should typically avoid. But if you group all carbs into this category, you end up depriving yourself of satisfying, nutrient-dense starches that are essential to a diet. 

If you choose your carbs based on nutrition, not glycemic index score, and are strategic about when you eat them, you can have your carbs and eat them too. Carrots, sweet potatoes, bananas, whole grains and rice are all good choices. Experts note that your insulin levels are most sensitive and higher in the morning and post-workout, so it is best to eat your healthy starches and sugars earlier in the day when your body can burn them for energy, and after you put in a training session for glycogen storage and muscle recovery. 

The moral of the story: Treat yourself! With the right carbs at the right time, your body will thank you in the long run. 

For all my Celiacs and GF friends, don't cut carbs out of your diet just because you can't have wheat, barley or rye. You can get plenty of your macro-nutrients from ground vegetables (including sweet potatoes and regular potatoes) quinoa, and rice. Don't forget popcorn is naturally gluten free! But, try to avoid overly-processed GF breads and other products. 

Yours in being "carb happy,"



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