Carbs—Yay or Nay?
by Don Saladino, holistic fitness expert and trainer to celebrities, athletes and New York City policemen, Don is a Garden of Life brand advocate and owner of Drive495, a state-of-the-art, 15,000 square foot golf and fitness training facility in New York. www.donsaladino.com
This has been an incredibly hot topic for the last ten+ years. There’s so much research around carb intake, full of different opinions from different people—it’s no wonder so many are confused.
I’m pretty fanatical about my diet. I’ve gone as extreme as to test my blood and adrenals before I begin a routine through to the finish. The reality is, after years of doing something so specifically, you can gain a pretty keen knowledge on how your body works. But what if you don’t do this for a living?
So many people tell me that they don’t consume carbs. I have to clarify a couple of things. . .
- Depending on the source, carbs can be good and bad. Just like protein or a fat can be good and bad, a carbohydrate is good or bad depending on the source and the way it’s used
- A carbohydrate is your gasoline
- When you rid your body of carbs, you are also pulling water out of the body
When people go on low or no-carb diets, their weight tends to yo-yo due to the inconsistency of their eating. Let me give you an example. You have a big vacation planned and you want to look great in a bathing suit, so you decide to cut your carbs for two weeks. It is torturous. You feel your energy levels dragging, but you’re motivated because you know you’re going to be showing lots of skin!
In this period of no-carb time, you probably drop 5-to-10 pounds. Then, it’s off to vacation where you’re doing exactly that—vacationing. You are lenient with your meal plan, maybe some alcoholic beverages are flowing and you just flat out have a great time.
Then something happens.
You jump back on a scale and notice that all the weight you lost came back! How is this possible? What a debilitating feeling. The vacation you had hoped for is no longer vacation.
By removing carbs from your body, you are not only hindering your energy sources, but the water that is pulled out of the body only gives the appearance of weight loss. In reality, it is not the kind of weight loss you want. So in order to:
- Sustain energy levels
- Give your body the nutrients and fiber it needs for digestion
- Give the body the fullness and healthiness that it needs
- Keep balanced hormone levels and a healthy thyroid
. . .you must consume healthy carbohydrates.
The key here is how many? That depends on each individual and how much fuel you’re burning in a day. If you’re on foot all day, under stress and in a fast-paced environment, you may need more on that specific day than you would if you were taking a day off to watch football. Though it varies person to person, a recommendation for starting out is to incorporate carbs around your time of exercise and early in the day. If you have a feeling of fullness by the afternoon, begin decreasing the amount you’re having. If it were a cut and dry answer, I would be breaking every meal down into ounces. In reality, it just isn’t that way. What I need you to take from this is that carbohydrates are healthy if the right ones are consumed. The weight that is lost by a low carb or no-carb diet is not genuine weight loss—and carbs are an important fuel. Remember you can’t run a car without gasoline, so how are you going to run the human body without the fuel that you need?