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7 Carb Myths You Should Know

7 Carb Myths You Should Know

Oh, carbs. Love ’em or hate ’em…  who are we kidding? You love ’em. We all do. But are they good or bad for you? Well, it’s complicated.

With so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to know what’s what. What was good has become evil and what was evil has become good in a dietary sense, and round and round we go.

Here are a few myths about carbs explained to help you navigate the nutritional seas.

1. Cereal is a heart-healthy breakfast

Cereal is a staple in what we we think of as “a balanced breakfast” because it’s “light”. But it’s composed of highly processed carbohydrates for easy eating, which are just as easily broken down to sugar in our bodies.

Some brands try to offset this fact by adding “oat clusters” or nuts, but they’re usually coated in some form of sugar. How did you think the clusters clustered?

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All those simple carbs and sugars can actually do damage to your heart according to the Cleveland Clinic.

2. Grains and legumes should be the base of a “healthy” diet

Remember the classic Food Guide Pyramid from the USDA? The one with grains and legumes dominating all along the bottom of the image? It’s out of date! The USDA Food Pyramid has been replaced by MyPlate.gov, a more comprehensive and vegetable heavy approach to eating a balanced meal.

Guess what you should actually be eating most of? Veggies of course!

3. Granola bars are a “healthy” option

Candy bars are bad and granola bars are good, right? Not so, I’m afraid.

Granola bars are compact little blocks of processed carbohydrates. Even if they’re composed of more slowly broken down grains like whole oats, (most aren’t) they’re held together by sweeteners from corn syrup to honey.

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You’re better off snacking on some raw nuts or maybe an avocado, both of which have sustaining healthy fats to hold you over and won’t spike your blood sugar.

4. Exercise is more important than watching carbs

Let’s face it, we all hate cutting carbs. They’re so comforting and delicious.

If you’re trying to loose weight, or just be healthier, they really are one of the first things that should be reduced. Some people exercise more rather that eat fewer carbs. Anything not to cut back!

But according to this article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, that’s not the best method. Over the past 30 years, obesity has reached new highs. While our physical activity levels haven’t reduced much, our carbohydrate and sugar intake has increased considerably.

Some people even manage to maintain a healthy weight by exercising more, but the strain on the system from all that exertion as well as the inflammation caused in the body from eating too many carbs and sugars can put seemingly fit people at risk for hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

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5. Fruit has “healthy carbs” so you can eat as much as you want

You may think that “eating clean” means loading up on a big, fresh fruit salad first thing in the morning to get yourself started on the right foot. Not so fast.

Simple carbohydrates, be they the much-feared high fructose corn syrup, or regular old fructose occurring naturally in most fruit, will burn up quicker than a phoenix in the California hills.

This will spike your blood sugar and bring you crashing down just as if you ate a couple doughnuts. Not to say fruit is bad. Just that there’s always too much of even a good thing.

For a better start, have a protein based breakfast like an egg or some chia pudding with green veggies.

6. Gluten is the cause

Celiac disease is very real, and those who have it should absolutely avoid gluten. But for those who seem to experience gastrointestinal issues when eating glutenous grains and are not celiac, you could be misdiagnosing yourself as “gluten sensitive”.

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Recent studies have been pointing to the more likely possibility of a sensitivity to fructans, a carbohydrate found in some glutinous grains, garlic, artichokes and some fruits. There’s also evidence pointing to sensitivity to the lactose in some dairy products and galactans, which are found in some legumes.

It might be more complicated than simply a sensitivity to gluten. The particular details of this sensitivity are outlined in the diet movement known as FODMAPs. Read more about it here.

7. All carbs are the enemy

There are carbs in almost every food, even vegetables! Complex carbohydrates in grains and starchy veggies have health benefits and nutrients too.

A wide variety of foods consisting of mostly whole, low sugar options is ideal. Just do a little research into what carbs are better for you. (Spoiler alert, white bread and sugar will be on the naughty list). But you can enjoy whole grain or grain-free baked goods as occasional treats, even if you’re living a low carb lifestyle.

Variety makes life interesting. And who wants to live an uninteresting life? Happy conscious baking!

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Hannah Glenn

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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