Carbs and Proteins Explained
Health promoting nutrition means that you need to eat generous quantities of fruits, vegetables (good sources of carbohydrates), nuts, seeds, and berries.
But they must also be combined with good sources of protein and I will explain why a little later.
Good sources of protein are lean meats such as cold water fish, chicken and turkey. I also advocate soy protein and whey protein for their high-quality, anti-cancer, cardioprotective, and mood-enhancing benefits.
Doing this will keep your metabolism ticking along quite nicely, you wont get hungry, your blood sugar levels will remain stable and you wont feel tired!
In reality you need to have 5 to 6 meals, regularly spaced throughout the day which provide a good source of carbohydrates and proteins – in each of the meals.
Sounds like too much work? Not Really!
It is all about planning.
It does not matter who you see (dietitian, naturopath etc.) or where you go (weight watchers, jenny craig etc.) you must plan your meals!
Dietary mistakes will always occur when you are hungry (i.e. you haven’t eaten for a few hours) and you have nothing prepared.
As a general rule most of us eat too much, too late in the day. So when we do eat we are usually very hungry and have quite low blood sugar levels. We then overload our stomach going to bed with a gut full of food, that needs to processed overnight. This causes us to become restless and overheat – generally disturbing our sleep.
The last meal of the day should be our 5th or 6th meal. If you follow this rule, you really wont be that hungry when you sit down for dinner. A light meal will suffice.
Remember it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to work out that your stomach is full!
If you are struggling for ideas of where to start go to the Weekly Meal Planner will help get you thinking in the right direction.
So what is the next thing to consider?
All Carbohydrates are Burnt as Cups of Sugar.
Think about that one for a moment.
Your body does not know the difference between a slice of bread (a refined carbohydrate) and a cup of sugar. It is burnt/digested/processed in EXACTLY the same manner as sugar.
That is why when you eat a slice of bread you feel good for a while (as your blood sugar levels go up). Then an hour or so later you feel hungry again (as your pancreas gets on it’s treadmill and pumps out the insulin to reduce the blood sugar spike).
As the prancreas produces this insulin, the blood sugar levels can drop below the “normal” level which results in you becoming “hypo-glycaemic”. You then feel hungry, lethargic and your brain shuts down so reach for a Mars bar or another piece of bread to compensate.
So the process of a blood sugar spike, pancreas producing heaps of insulin, dropping blood sugar levels, hypo-glycaemia, and low energy levels continues.
The more refined carbs you eat (usually bread, pasta, pastries & soft drinks) the greater the blood sugar spike, the harder the pancreas has to work to produce insulin to get the blood sugar levels down.
This is how you put on heaps of weight and pretty much feel lethargic all the time (except when you are eating).
Also, this is how you get diabetes!
If you are buying food from a bakery (pies, pastry, bread) this is a refined carbohydrate and your body will process it as sugar. If you are buying food from the green grocer then this is usually an unrefined carbohydrate.
The more unrefined carbohydrates you eat the less spikes you will have in your blood sugar levels – the better you feel.
So, if you are going to eat a carbohydrate make it a fruit or vegetable (unrefined carbohydrates). Fruits and vegetables are great sources of carbohydrates and in general they are pretty low GI or glycaemic index.
That means they will not create havoc with your blood sugar levels, and unless you are on a special diet you really can’t go wrong eating a good mix of fruits and veggies.
Rice, pasta and potatoes (very starchy) are sources of carbohydrates and should be discouraged due to their relatively high glycemic loads, and their lack of fibre and phytonutrients (compared to other fruits and vegetables).
Most of the rice we consume in Australia is highly processed, chloronated or bleached so it looks white.
Indeed much of the pasta we eat is highly processed and contains many preservatives. Also we tend to eat rice, pasta and potatoes too late in the day (dinner) and in too great a quantity.
There is no point eating a large carbohydrate meal (rice, pasta and potatoes are carbs) late in the day when you are not going to use that energy. It will be converted to glycogen in the liver and if that is not used immediately it will be converted to fat. If you have to eat these foods eat them by lunch time.
By the way, the most common source of potatoes in our diet (especially our children) is french fries and “potatoe” chips. All thanks to McDonalds for this one!
Grains such as wheat and rye should be discouraged due to the high glycemic loads/indexes of most breads and pastries, as well as the allergenicity of gluten, a protein that appears to help trigger disorders such as migraine, celiac disease, psoriasis, epilepsy, and autoimmunity.
Sources of simple sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup (e.g., cola, soda) and processed foods (e.g., “TV dinners” and other manufactured snacks and convenience foods) are strictly forbidden. Chemical preservatives, colorants, artificial sweeteners (nutrasweet and aspartine etc.) should be avoided.
What is Protein Adequate as Opposed to “High Protein”?
In Australia I believe that most people do not have enough good quality lean sources of protein in their diet. It seems to be a feast or famine situation.
Most women do not have anywhere near enough protein in their diet and most men eat too much too late in the day (i.e. the big steak at night).
If you actually work it out most people only eat about 40 to 60 grams of protein per day (in our clinical experience). There is hardly enough protein to maintain consistent energy levels.
Think of Carbohydrates of Kindling on the Fire.
Think of Protein as Logs on the Fire.
All carbohydrates (kindling) burn very quickly whereas the proteins (logs) burn slow and provide an even heat.
I particularly advocate the use of Whey Protein, preferably as Whey Protein Isolate (WPI). A constantly growing number of studies support applications for whey protein in preventative medicine, health maintenance and recovery.
With a spectrum of applications extending from infant nutrition to the elderly, whey protein is a great food supplement indicated in health issues as diverse as gut integrity, immune function, infections such as HIV, reduction in cancer rates, cardiovascular health, high blood pressure, body building and weight management.
I usually drink 2 Whey Protein based drinks per day – one mid morning and one mid afternoon. They help to provide consistent clean energy for the entire day when combined with the other three (breakfast, lunch and tea) normal or “non-liquid” meals.
By using a whey protein liquid meal I find it very easy to consume 5 meals a day without too much effort.
Tip: If you don’t like the idea of using a protein drink try a piece of fruit (say an apple) and a handful of nuts and seeds; for example have a handful for almonds as a snack – they are a great source of protein.
Unlike other types of protein, whey transits the stomach quickly and is rapidly absorbed from the intestine. Whey is the supplemental protein source of choice for many bodybuilders athletes, and people wanting to improve their body composition in favour of lean muscle tissue and reduced fat mass.
So, How Much Protein Do You Need?
Research indicates that you will need approximately 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Therefore for example; a seventy kilogram person will need up to 140 grams of protein per day.
Remember that you can only digest up to 30 or 40 grams of protein per meal depending on your size and the quality of the protein. So this means you need to be eating regular small meals every 2 to 3 hours.
Each meal should consist of a good source of protein and some (preferably unprocessed) carbohydrates.
If you are an athlete or have a very physical job, then you may need to increase the amount of protein you consume beyond 2 grams/kilo of body weight. Some body builders and elite athlete consume 3 to 4 grams/kilo!
You will need to eat a minimum of 5 to 6 meals on this protocol. I recommend having 3 “normal” meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, with 2 to 3 “snack” meals mid morning, mid afternoon and if you want a supper.
But, you should not eat in the last few hours prior to bed. I do not recommend having the 3 “normal” meals as a liquid meal (unless it is something pretty substantial like the Hooper Shake).
Preferably use the liquid meals as snacks.
Important things you need to consider for Opitmal Nutrition
- Make sure you are getting enough protein – around 2 grams per kilo of body weight.
- If you focus on getting the correct amount of protein within your diet the carbohydrates (and the hunger) tend to take care of themselves.
- Try and have a good protein source plus some fruits or veggies with each of your main meals and you really can’t go too far wrong.
- If you are eating protein regularly, and drinking the right amount of water, throughout the day it is unlikely you will get hungry and your blood sugar levels (energy) will quickly stabilise!
- High-fat and high-carb meals are pro-inflammatory. Cut out those addictive, processed, easy to eat carbohydrates.
- All carbohydrates are burnt as cups of sugar by the body. Try to cut down on refined carbohydrates as best you can.
- Cut down on your grain (especially bread, pasta, cereals) and sugar intake.
- Stop drinking all soft drinks (including the so called “diet soft drinks”) – they are catastrophic for your blood sugar levels and contribute to a “pro-inflammatory” state.
- Make sure you have 5 to 6 small meals per day. Eat a good source of protein with each of these meals.
- Snack on nuts and seeds; for example have a handful for almonds as a snack – they are a great source of protein.
- Use a protein supplement if you can’t work out what to eat as a snack. A liquid snack is quick and easy; especially the pre-mixed ones.
- To lose weight, reduce both carbohydrates and calories – but do not starve yourself.
- Read and implement “Eating to Reduce Inflammation” and utilise the “Hooper Shake“.
In summary, this healthy eating plan provides plenty of variety, as most dishes comprised of poultry, fish, soy, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and seeds are allowed.
The plan also provides plenty of fibre, phytonutrients, carbohydrates, and protein, while simultaneously being low in fat, sodium, and “simple sugars.”
The plan must be customised with regard to total protein and calorie intake, as determined by your size, status, and activity levels, and individual food allergens should be avoided.
Regular consumption of this diet has shown the ability to reduce hypertension, alleviate diabetes, ameliorate migraine headaches, and result in improvement of overall health and a lessening of the severity of many common “diseases.”
If you like this article be sure to visit the Spinal Centre website at www.thespinalcentre.com.au and view more content by Dr. Hooper and the Spinal Rehabilitation Team.
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