Carbs.  I’ve encountered so many people lately that believe carbs are their enemy.  What’s worse is they ban particular carbs.  You know the kind: breads, pastas, wheat products, rice.  Somewhere they’ve read and believed that going low carb is THEE ticket to losing weight.

IT’S A MIRACLE!

No, really it’s not a miracle.  I’m just a fun-loving sarcastic person.

Before moving on, this is not addressing those with a doctor diagnosed medical issue in regards to your dietary intake of carbs or any other nutrient for that matter.

Let’s go back to the basics, shall we?

Consuming more calories than your body needs = weight gain/surplus

Consuming less calories than your body needs = weight loss/deficit

Our calories come from 3 macro’s (4 if you count alcohol) broken down from protein, fats and carbs.  Getting a proper balance to these in regards to your lifestyle is what’s important to help you reach your goals.

So naturally if one eliminates something from their diet, especially a large food group, they’re most likely going to experience a calorie deficit.  

Quoting a study from Examine.com (highly trusted source that breaks down the science research done on nutrition and supplements)-“If you are obese, decreasing carbs and upping protein may lead to greater weight loss, but sticking to any diet that has you eat less will lead to weight loss.”

mmm, pasta!

So what’s the problem?

People blame the food and the food is not to blame (unless of course it’s a medical issue). I’ll use my name as a figurative example:

1. Beth cuts “all” carbs from her diet. No bread, pasta, rice, tortillas, cereal, pizza, etc.
2. Beth experiences a drop in weight over 2-4 weeks, let’s say 4 pounds
3. Birthday parties and cook-outs leave Beth no choice but to consume a few “forbidden” carbs
4. Beth is tired (physically and mentally) trying to avoid carbs, her energy level is a little low too
5. Beth slowly starts having more carbs in her diet, because Beth loves pizza and pizza is life
6. Beth notices her weight starts to increase
7. Beth blames the carbs
8. Beth assumes she’ll never lose the weight or get in shape because she can’t stay away from carbs

Can you relate? Does this sound like something you’ve heard or tried?

IT’S NOT THE CARBS!!!! IT’S NOT THE CARBS!!!! IT’S NOOOOOOOT THUUUUUU CAARRRRRBS!

You’re simply overeating.  Could you reduce carbs? YES. Eliminate them? NO. 

A lower carb diet has shown to improve certain health markers like insulin and cholesterol levels and blood triglycerides to name a few.  But that doesn’t mean NO-carb and it doesn’t set a required amount.  Rather the degree of reduction varies individually as one might assume based on the amount of activity exerted.

Carbs are the bodies preferred energy source.  Eliminating them while training would be counterproductive.  And everyone I’ve encountered that’s spoken evil of carbs is trying to get in better shape thus starting to move more!

As nutrition expert Alan Aragon states “Carb reduction can then be strategically positioned as a trump card.  In other words, carbs can always be incrementally reduced on an as-needed basis, depending on how results are proceeding.  Starting off with minimal carbs from the get-go leaves fewer options in the toolbox to break through progress plateaus once training volume is maxed-out.”

This time I’ll use myself as a real example:

*I’m currently coming out of a bulking cycle where I purposely ate more calories than my body needed to aid in muscle growth over the course of 5 months. During that time my carb consumption was around 300grams. Fat gain is inevitable during this time so I’m doing a slight diet to lose the fat I gained, while maintaining the muscle.  I’m currently eating 180-210 carbohydrates and losing fat.  I exercise 5 days a week, mostly weight training with 2 days of cycling for cardio.

Here’s a recent meal-diary breaking down the carbs I consumed at each meal (this is ONLY the carbs):  

Breakfast: 50g steel cut oats (a little over 1/4 cup dry) + 1/2 a banana
Snack: 1/2 protein bar (has 11 carbs)
Lunch: hamburger bun and strawberries
Snack: Kettle popped popcorn chips
Dinner: Green beans, mashed potatoes
Bedtime Snack: cinnamon raisin english muffin with greek cream cheese (small amount of carbs)

Here’s a higher end of my carbs in a day:
Breakfast: 2 pieces cinnamon raisin bread (makes the best egg and ham sandwich!)
Snack: Fig breakfast bar
Lunch: 1 cup quinoa and brown rice blend (costco!), green beans, kettle popcorn chips
snack: 50g steel cut oats, 1/2 a banana (pre-workout meal)
late dinner: 1/4 cup elbow macaroni (chili mac for dinner, yum!)

Oats, white bread, potatoes, rice, pasta…it’s all there. Even carbs after dark, gasp! (again, sarcasm)

While the majority of my meals are from home making it easier to consume more food and control what I eat… I also enjoy pizza nights, brownies, date nights, and epic sandwiches with fries and slaw.  

Helloooo Primanti Brothers! Welcome to Ohio.  God Bless the USA.   

So anyways, If I were to drastically cut my carbs, my energy would eventually tank when cycling or trying to keep weight on the bar.  That’s not ideal.  The goal is to consume the highest amount of carbs that still allow steady weight loss and adequate energy throughout the day. When I’m finished with my mini-diet I’ll increase my carbs another 50g-100g or so (especially over summer when I’m naturally moving around more throughout the day).

Eating 300g carbs is fun.  Seeing muscles develop is fun. Feeling happy and healthy and inspired is fun.

Reconcile your friendship with carbs. They’ve missed you. 

Questions? Hit me up.

NUTRITION/MACROS

Sharing a combination of weekly menu’s and a few of my recent meal diaries because it seems everyone (myself included) could use a little inspiration when it comes to healthy eating and meal planning!

weekly menu

Each week I post a new weekly menu in our house starting on Friday (because that’s when I do most of my grocery shopping).  If you don’t currently meal plan for the week I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE you to start NOW! It helps me tremendously with meal prep, planning lunches for the week based on leftovers, and silencing the cries of “what’s for dinnerrrr?!”

It’s no secret that I’ve been striving to eat properly for my goals. This particular week, shown above, we had two separate date nights that required eating out.  No need to be a slave to cardio…just make it fit in your day/week!

meal diary

Those teriyaki kabobs listed on the menu turned into just marinated grilled chicken for simplicity and we still had leftovers for paninis!

When it comes to planning lunch for the week I stick with rotating 2 protein sources and account for any day that might lend leftovers. This particular week was a rotation of baked cod (the same kind I used in my fish taco recipe) and rotisserie chicken.

Breakfast staples include eggs, roasted sweet potatoes, lean turkey breakfast sausage (I get mine from Costco, see below), fresh fruit, wheat toast, avocados, and greek yogurt.

Costco lean organic turkey

I also adore steel cut oats but MUST include a heavy dose of protein alongside. My body tends to process some carbs fairly quickly and without an adequate supply of protein my blood sugar drops leaving me needing food sooner than later.

food diary

More often than not I eat my meals slightly different than the rest of the family.  Same basic meal but with a few adjustments.  For example, instead of a big plate of nachos, as listed on the menu, I had mine on an Italian flat out wrap with  lettuce, tomato, 1/4 avocado and a dollop of greek yogurt mixed with sriracha sauce.  Very filling and a great balance of protein, fats, carbs and fiber from the wrap!

weekly menu board

 Menu planning also helps break up serving the same thing over and over again.  Chicken never gets old to me, but my family frowns upon it if I serve it too much! LOL.

You may recall seeing my recipes for Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers (I make mine without stove top and sub in roasted sweet potatoes instead) or one of our family favorites Italian Egg Sandwiches (I often just eat mine without the hoagie or use Trader Joe’s sprouted wheat bread in place).  And you can’t beat my #1 Homemade Sloppy Joes, but I’m looking forward to trying a new twist.

And ALWAYS make room for pizza…and cookies and ice cream…but in this case, pizza!

daily food diary

Now, let’s talk snack time!  

healthy snack ideas

Breakfast-SNACK-lunch-SNACK-dinner-SNACK!  You know the drill…

Rarely do I go between meals without a snack and almost NEVER go to bed without something in my belly. Snacks should be a mix of protein, carbs, and/or healthy fats.  My carb heavier snacks are generally in the daytime but lately I’ve been breaking my 4×4 “diet” and incorporating a few more healthy/complex carbs in the evening.

healthy snack ideas

One of my all-time favorite go-to snacks is protein pancakes using Kodiak Cakes Mix!  They’re always on hand in my fridge to pull out and spread with either almond butter or a little whipped berry cream cheese as seen in the photo above.  Each pancake (made with 1/2 egg white and 1/2 water) is only 56 calories, .6grams fat, 7.7 carbs and 5 grams protein!

Have you jumped on the powdered peanut butter wagon yet?  I adore it and get a big organic bag at Costco.  It’s fabulous mixed in greek yogurt, tossed in smoothies or made slightly thinner and poured over pancakes to name a few!  2 Tablespoons is only 45 calories, 1.5 grams of fat!!, 5 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein!  

protein pancakes

Other favorite snacks include: avocado on toast, veggies and hummus (I love Trader Joe’s cilantro jalapeño), cottage cheese, light cheese sticks, apples sprinkled with cinnamon, almonds, mini peppers with laughing cow cheese, greek yogurt, and protein bars like these from Costco (again).

costco protein bar protein bar

meal diaries