The final installment in a series focusing on the basics of the macro-nutrients looks at carbs, and why you shouldn’t fear them! Any balanced, and healthy, diet takes into account proteins, fats and carbs.
Just like protein, 1g of carbohydrates equals around 4 calories.
And just like protein, just because a primary carbohydrate source weights 10g, it doesn’t mean it’s 10g of carbohydrates! 2 tablespoons (~32g) of peanut butter for instance is 190 calories, made up of around 8g of carbohydrates, but because it also has 16g of fat and 7g of protein, it's not just a case of multiplying the peanut butter weight by 4 to calculate carb or calorie value.
When someone says to me they’ve ‘cut out carbs’, I first ask if they’re still eating fruit and veg. Often they say yes, of course. So what they mean is they’ve ‘cut out white bread, potatoes and pasta’ - the usual ‘carb’ suspects.
One key takeaway to learn about carbs is they will crop up in all aspects of your diet from fruit, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, as well as drinks, dressings and dairy products. Don’t think carbs is just our friend white bread.
Bread, pasta, potatoes… these will typically form a large part of your carbs for the day (along with fruit and veg).
A raw white potato has circa 20g of carbs per 100g of it’s raw weight (uncooked)
It’s friend the sweet potato has up to 25g of carbs per 100g uncooked weight
Uncooked rice is far more carb heavy, with nearly 70g per 100g.
Uncooked pasta is like uncooked rice, with circa 70g of carbs oer 100g.
Breads is too tricky to sum up in this way. Look at the label to find out, and don’t forget some seedy wholemeal breads can pack up to 7g of protein per slice as well! Making that peanut butter sandwich a little more tempting…
Carbohydrates in veggies
Carbohydrates in vegetables can be a lot more dense, just look at the sweet potato above. Make sure to account for carbohydrates from vegetables, especially root veg like carrots, parsnips etc.
They pack a lot of fibre and healthy goodness, but also come with quite a high carb and sometimes calorie content.
And if you’re eating a good portion of leafy and filling greens don’t worry about the carb content as it’s not significant, but the greens give you key nutrients such as iron for instance.
Here’s a quick rough rule of thumb - a medium apple is 25g of carbohydrates. A medium banana is 25 of carbohydrates. A medium pear is 25g of…. Do you get the jist?
Berries and melons can be a little different, so get some good scales, and portion out your usual berries you may have with your porridge, look at the label and work it out, or check out the info on a nutritional calculator.
Don’t be afraid of fruit just because it has carbohydrates in it, as these carbs come packed with essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
And when you consider carbs, don’t forget about some key suspects that are often not tracked and are overlooked; alcohol and soft drinks, dairy, protein powders, and sauces.
If you need help with your nutrition to fuel your performance at CrossFit, in the gym or for a training program, get in touch with me, Chris Lowden on...
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