Types of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your working muscles and brain; they also provide vitamins,
minerals and help to metabolize protein. Carbohydrates are classified in two different categories:
Low glycemic (enters the blood stream in a slow manner); and
High glycemic (enter the blood stream at a faster pace)
As a rule, you should stick to low glycemic carbohydrates. However, during and after prolonged muscular
activity, high glycemic carbohydrates in liquid forms are a better source of energy (sport drinks, fruit juices
etc.) than low glycemic carbohydrates because they replenish your glycogen stores at a faster rate.
The more refined and processed a carbohydrate is; the faster your body digests it and sends it to your blood
stream as glucose, raising your blood sugar and therefore releasing high amount of insulin. The more natural
and unprocessed; the more your body has to break it down and the lower the insulin respond would be, giving
you a steady supply of glucose and longer source of energy.
Insulin it is not the "bad guy"; it is one of the most important hormones, its main function is to speed up
glucose metabolism and deliver nutrients to an intra-cellular level. It is just too much of it released into your
bloodstream that is bad.
Sources of carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are found in breads, grains, legumes, pasta, noodles, soups, vegetables, fruits, crackers, cookies,
breakfast cereals, juices, bakery products, sugary drinks, fruits bars, dry fruits etc. Vegetables, fresh fruits,
legumes, and whole grains products should be your main source of carbohydrates.
Protein is a very important nutrient; its main function is to build and repair, it is literally the stuff we are made
of. During digestion, protein is broken down into smaller units called amino acids, which combine in different
ways to form the various cells and tissues of the body. Amino acids also provide energy if the body needs it, but
unlike carbohydrates, they do not produce a spike in insulin.
Our body produces about 80% (nonessential amino acids) of the amino acids need it. The remaining 20%
(essentials amino acids) must be obtained from specific protein sources like meats. After a work out routine,
protein is the material used to repair and rebuild your torn down muscles. However, carbohydrates are the
vehicle your body will use to transport the amino acids into your muscles' cells and wherever else they are
There are three main sources of protein: (a) meats, (b) dairy products, and (c) whey protein powder (complete
protein). Legumes and grains are vegetable sources of protein but they may lack in one or more amino acids
(incomplete protein). You can create a complete protein by combining complementary proteins, for instance:
beans with rice. The exception to this rule is soybeans; by themselves, they are a complete source of protein.
Sources of Protein
Protein can be found in meats (fish, shrimp, crab, scallops, oysters, mussels, bacon, chicken, beef, veal, lamb,
pork etc.) and dairy products (eggs, milk, yogurt, soymilk, tofu, etc.). You can also obtain protein from
nutritional supplements (bars, whey protein and soy protein).
Fish, chicken, egg whites, tuna, whey protein powder; soy protein powder should be your main source of protein.
Types of Fat
Fat is the greatest source of energy; it yields 9 calories per gram whereas carbohydrates and protein yield 4
calories per gram. There are three kinds of fat:
Polyunsaturated (which comes from vegetable oils, avocado and fish sources - this is the good type of fat); and
Saturated, which comes from animal sources (not that good).
Nutritionists recommend that not more than 30% of our calories come from fat, and not more than 10% of this
should be from saturated fat. Fat does have a useful role to play; it carries flavor in food, and it provides a
concentrated energy source. Fat is essential for the high-energy needs and rapid growth of children. Also, the
fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, need fat to deliver them to the body's blood stream.
Sources of Fat
Fat can be found in whole dairy products, meats, vegetables oils, nuts, avocado, and coconuts. Unrefined olive
oils, avocados, and nuts should be your main source of fat. You can also use coconut oil for cooking purposes.
Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential to health. They are required in small amounts and interact
with the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat), allowing all the activities that normally occur within the
body to take place, as they should.
If you are concerned about not getting enough micronutrients and are taking a â€œone-a-dayâ€� multivitamin,
you should be aware that there are two forms of vitamins available - natural and synthetic. Natural vitamins
are derived from food sources and synthetic vitamins are produced in a lab from isolated chemicals that mirror
their counterparts found in nature. Even though there is not much of a difference between the two, synthetic
vitamins contain the isolated vitamins only. Many natural supplements also contain other nutrients that have yet
to be discovered. Therefore, as a general rule natural vitamins are preferable.
Vitamins can be divided into two groups - water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble
vitamins have to be taken on a daily basis since your body does not store them. On the other hand, fat-soluble
vitamins are stored in the fat tissue; therefore you should watch your total intake of fat-solutable vitamins since
taking too much of them could be toxic. Water-soluble vitamins should be taken after meals and fat soluble
vitamins should be taken before meals. Fat-soluble vitamins are best assimilated if taken with some source of
Click here to see a chart of all vitamins with their respective sources, deficiency symptoms, and water-
Weight Loss Vitamins
There are sets of vitamins and minerals that, if ingested on a daily basis, make your bodyâ€™s energy process
more efficient. They do this by speeding up your bodyâ€™s ability to use and expend the energy provided by
carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Stabilizing and regulating your blood sugar is one of the ways through which
this task is achieved and these sets of vitamins (in conjunction with sensible eating) can help you accomplish
that. By doing so, you will tend not to store extra fat. Instead, you will use fat as an energy source, which in the
end will help you in your weight loss battle. I will describe each set of vitamins and their function regarding
blood sugar regulation below:
B vitamins: B vitamins work best when taken together as a B- complex. They are active in metabolism, and
provide the body with energy by converting carbohydrates into glucose and metabolizing fats and protein.
Chromium: is a mineral comprising part of the Glucose Tolerance Factor; a component in the body that works
together with insulin to aid in the metabolism and utilization of glucose to produce energy.
Magnesium: is a mineral needed to transport glucose to our cells and to regulate the production and release of
Coenzyme Q10: is a component of the energy cycle, shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Zinc: is a trace mineral, which is a component of many of the enzymes in our body. Blood sugar regulation is
one of its many functions.
SNACKING BETWEEN MEALS
Having a snack in between your main meals is a necessity. By doing so, you would prevent your blood sugar
from suddenly going low and putting you at risk of having those dangerous cravings. Do not go more than four
hours with an empty stomach!
Below is a list of snack food to combine and eat between your main meals. As with the above, choose one per
1/4 cup of low-fat cottage cheese
1 oz. part-skim or "lite" mozzarella
2 1/2 oz. part-skim or "lite" ricotta cheese
1 oz. sliced meats (turkey, ham, etc.)
1 oz. tuna packed in water
1 oz. low-fat, part-skim, or "soft" cheese
1/3 cup "lite" fruit cocktail
1 cup strawberries
3/4 cup blackberries
1/2 cup grapes
1/2 cup peaches
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
3 olives (green or black)
1 macadamia nut
1 tablespoon guacamole
2 pecan halves
Below is a basic, every-day sample menu. I call it my simple menu since it does not take that much time to
prepare. However, it keeps me energized throughout the day.
As soon as I wake up, I try to have two or three servings of fruits (e.g.small orange, 1/2 cup of blueberries, a
cup of strawberries, etc) and, later on, I have my breakfast.
At dinnertime, I like to keep my food intake light and I rely on meal replacement shakes. If I need more
carbohydrates; I try to get them in liquid form; in this way, I make sure my digestion does not disturb my sleep
pattern and my body gets a good nutrient ratio. Also at this time, I take most of my supplements (multivitamins,
antioxidants,essential fatty acids, etc)
Cooked oatmeal with protein powder
Cottage cheese with fruits (mango, pineapple, etc.)
Cereal with protein powder, yogurt, flax seed oil
Eggs on a whole wheat pocket pita (scramble, fried, pouched)
Fruits (strawberries, orange, and pineapple) and protein shacked in water
Orange juice mixed with protein powder and toast with peanut butter
Breakfast bagel and a coffee (restaurant)
Scrambled eggs, whole-wheat toast (restaurant)
Bran muffin with a glass of milk
Bagel with peanut butter
Grilled cheese sandwich
Banana and a glass of milk
Lentils with rice and a can of tuna
Canned salmon with mayonnaise, pepper and lettuce and tomatoes on a pocket pita
Can of tuna with whole-wheat pasta and 1 cup of strawberries
Zesty chicken pita and beans soup (restaurant)
Shwarma chicken (plate, pita, from restaurant)
Tuna melt, garden salad (restaurant)
Egg salad bagel
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now you have the basics on how to design your own menu.
You should pick one item from each type of nutrient and make your food combination. It may not be as easy as
it sounds but, if you practice, you will be able to make the best food choice regardless of where you are at the
time when you have to fuel your body.
Remember - Besides proper food combinations, the size of the portion directly affects your overall insulin
response (Glycemic load).