Complex Carbohydrates

I'll get right to the point.  Eating complex carbohydrates along with your protein for each meal is essential for helping your body build muscle.  There, I said it.  You have to eat carbohydrates.  Though they have been vilified in the diet industry since the 1990's, our bodies need them to fuel muscle growth.  They also help keep your brain focused as carbohydrates break down into glucose (among other things) and your brain needs glucose to function properly.

In fairness, there are some carbohydrates that you should not be eating if you are trying to lose weight, so the anti-carb people weren't totally wrong.   They just over-simplified the situation. 

The fact of the matter is that if you don't feed your body complex carbohydrates, your body will start to break down protein for energy.  What is the most available protein in your body?     Muscle.   With all the effort you will be putting into growing muscle to lose fat, why let this happen?


How Many Complex Carbohydrates Do I Need?

As I noted on the Diet Program page, 1/3 of your plate at each of the three main meals should be covered by  carbohydrates.   As with proteins, there is a simple formula, related to your weight, to help you determine how many carbohydrates you should eat.  You will need 1 to 1.5 grams of  carbohydrates per pound of body weight that you are carrying.  If you weight 200 pounds, you should consume between 200 and 300 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Again, as I discussed regarding lean protein, if you are significantly overweight, use your target weight that you established on the home page as the baseline for your calculation. 

Still don't like math?  Keep it simple; for each of your three main meals, be sure to have a serving of carbohydrates that equals the size of your fist. 

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

So, how can you determine which carbs you should be eating?  It's not particularly difficult, once you understand the differences. 

Simple carbohydrates have been created from processed flours and sugars.  Your body will burn them very rapidly and leave you wanting more.  On the other hand, complex carbs are still very close to their natural condition.  They are much slower digesting and, therefore, leave you feeling full longer.  You see the term "fiber" used in food advertisements.  While the term is probably over-used, complex carbs have more fiber.  To look at them, they have colors that are more natural in appearance.  Simplistically, if it's white.....don't eat it.

One of my favorite quotes is from a man who was probably the original fitness guru, Jack Lalanne.  He said, "If man makes it, don't eat it."  Talk about keeping it simple!

Complex Carbohydrates List

Here is a list of the types of this macro nutrient that you should be eating.  Again, this is not all-inclusive, but will give you a pretty good idea of what I am talking about and some good variety with which to cook.

  • Oatmeal & whole grain cooked cereals
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • New potatoes with skin on (the most nutritious part)
  • Yams and sweet potatoes
  • Beans (black, red, kidney, pinto, etc.)
  • Corn
  • Peas, black-eyed peas and lentils
  • Whole grain breads and pastas (limit these, they are still "processed")
  • Corn tortillas (not white flour tortillas - they are "simple")

Carbohydrates are a "must-eat."  Keep them in good balance with proteins and veggies and your meals will help you loose weight and keep it off.  Remember, this is  a lifetime thing.  Change the way you eat....don't go on a diet.  I'll see you on another page.

› Complex Carbohydrates