Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Carb Controversy

Ahhh carbs my old friend! Before primal, not a night went by where my dinner plate wasn't loaded up with you... Pasta, rice, or potato were my staples. But why? Who actually eats these things for their taste? Think about what you like in a pasta dish or risotto. My guess is that it isn't the fettucine or rice that you like, but the sauce and meat which smother it! How often would you sit down to eat a bowl of plain rice or a baked potato (without any of the bacon, cheese, butter, or cream topping it!)?
No, these carbs are just fillers. And it's understandable. They are cheap to buy and cook. They require little preparation. And if you buy the 'healthy' whole-grain version, according to conventional wisdom, they are good for you. I can't blame people for eating them. I was one of those people! And while I have always had issues with indigestion, I never thought they could be the culprit...
Low-carb diets are frowned upon by conventional wisdom. Let me clear something up though. Low-carb doesn't equal no-carb. Fruit and vegetables make up the majority of our primal diet, and they also make up the majority of our carb intake. It really angers me when people hear how I'm eating and liken it to the Atkins Induction diet where you pretty much only eat fat and protein. I could never stop eating fruit or vegetables! I'm not such a big fan of meat that it dominates my diet! I distinctly remember when my dad was following Atkins that I physically felt sick at his daily menu choices. That was never going to work for me. But the Primal Blueprint, with an emphasis on eating vegetables, does work.
I'm sure you could find hundreds of studies warning you of the dangers of eating low-carb. Similarly, you can find hundreds of studies supporting the notion of low-carb eating. An impressive study comparing many different diets can be found by linking through Mark's article "Unrestricted-low-carb-diet-wins-hands-down". The main thing is that you understand the science behind it and find a level that works for you. Some people work better on higher carbs. Some survive in a ketogenic state. My main motivation behind this post is however, to help you understand that the type of carbs you eat are what's important. Quite simply, vegetables and fruit are where pretty much all of your carb intake should be coming from.
Mark's Carbohydrate Curve has been instrumental in understanding how many carbs is too many and how many we should be eating for effortless weight loss. After a couple of weeks measuring the approximate amounts of carbs we were consuming on a daily basis (we were aiming for no more than 100g/day) we quickly learnt how to 'guestimate' our carb intake.
But, I hear you ask, don't you miss the pasta, rice, and potatoes?!?! I can truthfully answer NO! I've made some amazing dishes following this primal plan. A moussaka made with cauliflower cheese sauce is one that stands out. I've had italian meatballs with tomato basil sauce and mountains of vegies and did not miss the pasta one bit! And if I'm hankering for some starch, we have sweet potatoes which are so much tastier and better for you than potatoes. We've discovered amazing combinations, my favourite being lamb and pumpkin together! It's really fun to invent new dishes and discover some of the other amazing bloggers online who post their own recipes. Of course, I will be regularly posting some of my recipes but if you're really excited to see what amazing food is on offer, check out Son of Grok and Girl Gone Primal.
For some final 'light' reading, please see Kat Eden's post on low carb nutrition. Alternatively, for some science behind the belief in low-carb diets, Mark explains it beautifully here.

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