Category Archives: carbs
1) You’re Eating Too Many Carbs
2) You’re Eating Carbs at the Wrong Time
3) You’re Eating Too Much Fat
4)You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
5) You’re Drinking Too Many Protein Shakes
6) Your Liver is Over Stressed
7) You’re Eating Nuts
8) You’re Eating Fruit
9) You’re Not Training Heavy
10) You’re Overdoing Cardio
11) You’re Not Running Sprints or Doing Sled Work
12) You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
“The best way to cut carbs from your diet is to make creative substitutions,” says Arthur Agatston, M.D., author of The South Beach Diet. “That way you can still eat the foods you love, without busting your diet.”
Dr. Agatston told us how to make cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes. Other nutrition experts gave us tricks for cutting white flour, pasta, and potatoes and replacing them with lower-carb alternatives that taste nearly identical. We then had some loyal carbo-cravers taste-test these dishes. Turns out some of them are so good, you’ll wonder why you weren’t eating them in the first place.
And for more great ways to and lose weight and stay slim for good, pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Diet today! It combines the latest findings in exercise and nutrition with practical how-to-advice that will transform your body into a fat-burning machine.
Substitute: Squash for potatoes
Summer squash (the football-shaped yellow kind) tastes similar to potatoes when cooked—but has just a fraction of the carbs. Grate the squash, mix in an egg as binder, make patties, and fry them in olive oil, says Mary Dan Eades, M.D., coauthor of The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook.
Carbs Eliminated: About 15 grams (g) per hash-brown patty
The Taste: “Not as firm and crispy as regular hash browns, but the potato flavor is there.”
Substitute: Cauliflower for potatoes
One of Dr. Agatston’s favorites: Steam some fresh or frozen cauliflower in the microwave. Then spray the cauliflower with butter substitute, add a little nonfat half-and-half substitute, and puree in a food processor or blender. “Salt and pepper to taste and you’ve got something that quite honestly can compete with the real thing any day,” says Dr. Agatston. To make it even better, try adding roasted garlic, cheese, or sour cream to the mixture.
Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup
The Taste: “After a couple of bites, you forget it’s not potatoes.”
Substitute: Zucchini slices for noodles
Slice four to five medium-size zukes lengthwise into three-quarter-inch-thick strips, instructs Lise Battaglia, a New Jersey chef whose past clients include Jon Bon Jovi. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the strips, place them in a single layer on a nonstick cookie sheet, and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. You want them firm, not crisp. “Then simply make the lasagna as you normally would, replacing lasagna noodles with the baked zucchini,” she says.
Carbs Eliminated: 36 g per serving
The Taste: “Delicious. The zucchini provides texture that you don’t get from noodles alone.”
Substitute: Spaghetti squash for spaghetti
A cooked spaghetti squash is like Mother Nature’s automatic spaghetti maker—the flesh becomes noodlelike strands. “All you have to do is cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Then place each half—cut side down—on a plate with a quarter cup of water,” says Elizabeth Perreault, a chef at Colorado’s Culinary School of the Rockies. Nuke the squash for 10 minutes or until it’s soft to the touch. Let it cool, then scrape out the “spaghetti” strands and top with pasta sauce and cheese.
Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup
The Taste: “Great. Spaghetti squash has exactly the same consistency as real pasta.”
Substitute: Oatmeal and cottage cheese for pancake mix
Here’s a can’t-fail recipe from The South Beach Diet. Mix together half a cup of old-fashioned oatmeal, a quarter cup of low-fat cottage cheese, two eggs, and a dash each of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Process in a blender until smooth. Cook the mixture like a regular pancake.
Carbs Eliminated: 45 g per pancake
The Taste: “With syrup, you could never tell the difference.”
Substitute: Tempeh for potatoes
You may think you don’t like soy-based foods, but that could be because you don’t cook them right, says Beckette Williams, R.D., a San Diego-based personal chef. “Tempeh can be really bland, but if you jazz it up with herbs and spices, it’s a great substitute for potatoes.” Her recommendation: Saute a couple of cups of thinly diced tempeh with garlic and onions. Then pour a cheese sauce (sharper is better) over the tempeh cubes and bake for half an hour.
Carbs Eliminated: 11 g per cup
The Taste: “Just like a slightly nutty baked potato.”
Macaroni and Cheese
Substitute: Diced vegetables for macaroni
Even instant mac and cheese can go lower-carb; use only half the pasta in the box and bulk it up with a couple of cups of frozen mixed vegetables, says Sandra Woodruff, R.D., coauthor of The Good Carb Cookbook.
Carbs Eliminated: 13 g per cup
The Taste: “I hate broccoli, but I wouldn’t mind eating this.”
Substitute: Mixed vegetables or black beans for half the pasta
Same idea as the mac and cheese, but try black beans, diced tomatoes, and chunks of ham, tuna, chicken, or hard-boiled eggs, suggests Richard Ruben, an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. “These kinds of salads are a blank slate, so you can top them with anything from a creamy blue-cheese dressing to vinaigrette, or even lime juice and slices of avocado,” Ruben says.
Carbs Eliminated: 10 g per cup
The Taste: “Awesome. I don’t miss the extra pasta at all.”
Substitute: Low-fat string cheese for chips
Just crazy enough to work: Cut sticks of string cheese into quarter-inch-thick slices and scatter the rounds on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray, leaving them an inch or two apart. Bake at 375 F for 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. Let them cool, then peel the chips off the tray.
Carbs Eliminated: Up to 90 g per serving
The Taste: “Like the cheese you pull off the top of a pizza.”
Substitute: Portobello mushrooms for pizza crust
Cut the gills out of the inside of the mushroom, says Ruben, “then place the mushroom on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes so it dries out slightly.” Add tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni or other toppings and broil until the cheese begins to melt.
Carbs Eliminated: About 20 g per slice
The Taste: “Like pizza, but moister. Give me a fork!”
Substitute: Eggplant for pasta
Mixing diced eggplant with ground beef is healthier and more highbrow than this old skillet special—call it moussaka American style. You have to soften the eggplant first, says Williams. Cut it in half, brush it with olive oil, and then broil for 10 to 20 minutes. “Let it cool, dice it up, and mix with hamburger, tomato sauce, and spices,” she says.
Carbs Eliminated: 26 g per cup
The Taste: “Exactly like Hamburger Helper, in a good way.”
Substitute: Napa or Chinese cabbage for bread
Slap your turkey and Swiss onto a leaf of cabbage and roll it up. “I’ve made some great-tasting BLTs using cabbage instead of bread,” Battaglia says. Dip the roll in low-fat mayonnaise or mustard.
Carbs Eliminated: 29 g per sandwich
The Taste: “Better than eating plain cold cuts.”
by Chris Shugart
We all know it:
The right dietary fats are good.
Protein is very good.
Carbs are… well, tricky little bastards.
As a guy who wants to build muscle and avoid excess fat gain, I’ve been all over the board when it comes to carbohydrates. At one extreme, I’ve obsessed over the single carb you might find in an egg. On the other extreme, I’m stuffed myself with pancakes and syrup multiple times a day.
Carbs are the fiery redhead of the macronutrient world: so many possibilities, so many dangers.
So what’s new in carbohydrate research? What’s on the minds of today’s top nutrition scientists? There’s only one heavy-squattin’, big-benchin’ food expert to call: Dr. Lonnie Lowery.
1. Carbs, Freezing, and Toasting: A Funny Thing Happens…
Jacking up your insulin level at the wrong time is bad news for your physique. Yet jacking it up at the right time — around the time of your butt-whuppin’ bodybuilding workout — can do damn near magical things when it comes to packing on muscle. This phenomenon has even been given a name: The 3rd Law of Muscle.
You know the deal: The glycemic index, or GI, is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbs that break down quickly during digestion, releasing glucose rapidly into the bloodstream, have a high GI. Carbs that break down more slowly release glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, so they have a low GI.
White bread eaten alone has always been a standard food reference for GI. But leave it to Dr. Lowery to find an interesting twist here.
“If you freeze or you toast a piece of white bread, it’ll change its glycemic index,” says Lowery. “Most people don’t realize that.”
In 2008, researchers fed test subjects white bread and did the standard glucose curve test. On other days, they had subjects eat white bread that had been frozen then thawed. Next, they toasted the bread, and finally they tried a combination of freezing and toasting. The result?
If you freeze white bread (then thaw it of course) and eat it, it has a 31% lower glycemic index. In other words, the carbs are slower acting. Basically, freezing starches seems to change things.
“But it gets better,” adds Lowery. “If you toast white bread it has a 25% lower GI compared to plain white bread.”
Okay, so what happens when you freeze then toast white bread? You get bread with a 39% lower glycemic index.
Very interesting, yes? But most of us probably aren’t pounding back white bread anyway. So does this work with whole grain breads and, my personal favorite, Ezekiel bread? Well, the study was only performed on white bread, and Dr. Lowery would like to see this tested on other starches, but it might also be true for healthier bread products.
So, if you enjoy occasional white bread as a treat, toss the loaf in the freezer when you get it home. Or, if you’re stuck at grandma’s house during the holidays and being forced to eat a leftover turkey sandwich on Wonder bread, you can freeze and then toast it to reduce the GI and possibly reduce any abs-wrecking effects.
2. Once And For All: Beans Are Good Carbs!
Beans are so low when it comes to glycemic index that Dr. Lowery suggests that people eat them even when on low-carb diets. In fact, it may be time that we just come out and say it: Beans are like green vegetables: eat pretty much all you want… keeping gas issues in mind, please!
“If the glycemic index is at roughly 100 scale, then things in their teens and twenties enter your bloodstream so slowly that your glucose rises very gradually — so slowly that they’re almost a non-issue,” says Lowery. Indeed, the officially accepted definition of “low GI” is a GI range of 55 or less.
Dr. Lowery noted that when he competed in bodybuilding and was “jonesing for carbs,” that beans became his out: a food he could get full on without wrecking his strict contest prep.
Now, you do have to be careful with beans’ associated fart-producing effects, plus they’re so high in fiber that you may want to “ease into” eating lots of beans. Still, there’s simply no reason to fear beans, even if you’re a low-carber.
By the way, Dr. Lowery also uses white bean flour in recipes to crank up the fiber and crank down the GI. You can replace around 25% of the regular flour called for in most recipes with bean flour without it tasting too “beany.”
3. Tales from the Lab: Monster Carb Loading vs. Monster Muscles
Dr. Lowery likes to do his own version of Tales from the Crypt. Only instead of a crypt it’s a lab, and instead of buckets of gore it’s buckets of carbs. In this case, pie filling.
“I was part of a carb-loading study back in grad school,” says Dr. Lowery. “Man, it was fun. We’re talking about eating pie filling all day! We took in 9 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. It was crazy.
“After we carbed up, instead of doing the usual exercise science stuff, like performance testing on a treadmill, we did visual assessments with a camera and we used tape measures to look at muscle girth. Surprisingly, even with monster carb loading, we couldn’t measure an increase in muscle girth.”
In other words, there’s no question they doubled or tripled their muscle glycogen stores during this three-day carb load, and Dr. Lowery did notice some increased “fullness,” but there was no physical girth change as you might expect. Sure, these guys probably had great pumps in the gym, but all those carbs didn’t make them walk around measurably larger and looking “jacked.”
“You may feel like you’re bigger at rest when you’re carbed up, and the hypothesis for this study was that we’d be able to measure an increase in muscle girth,” says Dr. Lowery. “But the reality is that there’s no grossly measurable difference in muscle girth at rest, no matter how many carbs you pack into it.”
Just a little reality check from the lab.
4. Carbs and During-Exercise Stress
“I’ve done a lot of digging on things that will reduce stress during training,” Lowery says. “And the answer is: simple carbohydrate intake during exercise. This is one of the few things that has hard science supporting it. Simple carbs during training consistently and reliably reduce stress markers like interleukin 6 during exercise.”
Now, interleukin 6 is a catabolic (muscle-wasting), inflammatory cytokine, something you certainly would want to reduce. For one thing, reducing it can help put the kibosh on overtraining symptoms for those of us who hit it hard six days a week.
In short, more evidence that pre- and during-lifting carbs are vitally important for people seeking maximum muscle.
5. Excess Carb Calories = Fatness
“There’s a lot of very solid biochemistry behind why excess carbohydrate calories are fattening,” says Lowery. “I debate with certain dieticians who say that excess protein calories ‘turn to fat,’ but with carbs it’s not even up for debate. The evidence is just that clear.”
To prove this, Dr. Lowery will often wheel in a metabolic cart when he’s teaching class. Students will come in fasted, get hooked up to the cart, and be able to see how they’re burning 60 to 90% of all their calories from body fat. He’ll then give them a sugary drink (no doubt with an accompanying maniacal laugh, perhaps punctuated with lightening crashes).
Within 20 minutes the students will have halted fat breakdown and started using carbs both for fuel and for lipogenesis or body fat creation. “It completely stops the fat-burning process and begins the fat creation process!” Lowery says.
Given this hard evidence, it’s really no wonder that sugary colas get slammed as one of the big causes of the obesity epidemic. But Lowery notes that this can happen withall excess carbs, not just with the full-sugar Mountain Dew he uses to demonstrate this to his students.
Take home lesson: If you want to jack up insulin for bodybuilding purposes, if you’re wanting to fill up your muscles with glycogen, then you simply can’t do that all day long on a daily basis. Instead, slam the button down during the peri-workout window.
“A lot of that bad biochemistry that happens during rest doesn’t happen during exercise. Your hormonal state changes. You’re contracting large muscle groups. You’re doing something with that blood sugar during training,” says Lowery.
So, time carb intake right with exercise and you can get a lot of those muscle-building and glycogen-storing benefits of insulin. Then, back off the carbs.
If there’s a Holy Grail of bodybuilding nutrition, it involves the tactically timed intake of the right kind of carbs. No doubt about it.
6. The Anti-Grain/Allergen Trend: “Overstated!”
Okay, so those of us who prefer to have visible abs know that bread and pasta are our boogeymen, But recently there’s been a movement against all grains, even things like old-fashioned oatmeal and brown rice. The basic idea is that not only are these things allergenic to many people, they’re also foods that human being just aren’t made/evolved to eat.
So, are all grain-based carbs bad or are some people throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?
“That’s overstated sometimes,” Lowery opines. “I think many of the anti-grain gurus in the industry get a little too excited about this whole allergen thing. It goes a little bit too far. Most prevalence data on food allergens suggests single-digit percentages in human populations.”
But Dr. Lowery agrees that a grain-based diet is part of America’s obesity problem. “What people have to understand is that grain-based diets are pushed on us because it’s the only sustainable way to feed millions and millions of human beings. You can’t do that with lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. But luckily we can seek out those things, especially in a country like America.”
Dr. Lowery goes on to say that a lot of nutrition education and the nutritional choices that we’re fed in this country aren’t based on metabolism, but on subsidies.
“It’s disturbing to think that the kinds of subsidies that corn growers get are vastly bigger than any subsidies that fruit and vegetable growers get,” says Lowery. “And remember, we consume three times as much corn in the form of corn syrup than as whole corn, which is a grain. If you eat corn, eat if off the cob.”
By the way, Dr. Lowery starts off every day with either oatmeal or oat bran made with berries and vanilla protein powder, or he has eggs and a low-glycemic carb like an apple. Always nice to know what these nutrition scientists do in their real lives based on all the info they have stored away in their big brains.
7. The Whole Grain Sham?
“Yes, there are some advantageous phytochemicals in 100% whole grains, plus some extra fiber. But again, this whole grain push is influenced by the lobbyists and the subsidy system to make grains seem really great,” says Dr. Lowery.
He also notes that while some research shows that people who eat more whole grains have less body fat, who is this compared to? People chugging down colas and eating white bread?
“Be careful with these label claims,” adds Lowery. “Think population specificity. We, bodybuilders and athletes, are a very specific population. Whole grains may indeed help someone who normally starts his day with greasy McDonald’s hash browns. But our population, the physique-conscious crowd, is light years ahead of the regular population. What may be a step forward for them would be a step backwardfor us.”
Preach on, LL. Preach on.
Talking with Dr. Lowery is like reading a William Gibson novel: Every few sentences he drops a Big Idea on you that gets you to thinking. Here are three from our latest phone call:
“Do you want the secret? And I mean THE secret? Here it is: leans meats, fruits, and vegetables.”
“There’s a stigma against bodybuilders. People assume they’re just big dumb muscleheads. But we are so far ahead of athletes in any other sport when it comes to nutritional knowledge that it’s not even funny.”
“Nutrition isn’t that complex in theory, but it is in practice.”
And with those words, our food expert said a mouthful.
Next up: Things You Need to Know About Fats. Stay tuned!
Type II Diabetes: All the cool kids are doing it!
Beans: They’ll make you fart but they won’t make you fat.
Interleukin 6, a.k.a. nasty shit.
Whole grains: They’ll still make ya fat if you’re not careful!
About Dr. Lonnie Lowery
Dr. Lonnie Lowery is an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, and hardcore musclehead. For more info, checkout NutritionRadio.org.
© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
by Mike Roussell
It’s important not to be carbophobic during your mass-building phase. Yes, it’s possible to build muscle without a lot of carbohydrates. But most people do better with carbs included in their mass building programs. Carbohydrates are important because they’re the most potent stimulator of the hormone insulin.
Insulin is the anabolic hormone in the body. Stimulating insulin at key times during the day will boost your body’s muscle building potential. Don’t go carbohydrate crazy. Taking in starchy carbohydrates (rice, oatmeal, yams, dextrose, etc.) first thing in the morning and during and after your workout will provide the proper timing to insulin surges that will maximize muscle growth while minimizing fat gains.
Taking in the proper types of carbs during your workout will lead to better performance in the gym and more muscle built afterwards. During this time, you want to have a workout shake that contains fast acting sugars such as dextrose and maltodextrin. These sugars will get into your system fast, stimulate insulin, and fuel your workout.
You can further boost the power of this shake by adding fast acting proteins such as whey protein isolate or hydrolyzed whey and leucine or branched chain amino acids. These fast-acting proteins and important amino acids will further stimulate insulin and ensure that your body doesn’t chew up any muscle during your hard training sessions.