No Carbs Before Marbs
No time for spiel
There has always been a lot of debate around the need for carbohydrates in people's diets. I am not for one minute an expert, so am not going to bother with a long winded explanation about the two different types, what we use them for and how much to eat on a day to day basis. Instead, I am just going to give examples and information about what role carbohydrates play in my diet. You are welcome to take as much or as little information as you want. What works for me, does not work for everyone.
Not for everyone
As much as I love my carbohydrates - bread, pasta, rice etc- my body just can't take them. I sometimes use the phrase, 'If I so much as look at a loaf of bread, I gain inches.' Whilst this is not strictly true, eating a high carb diet does mean I pile on the pounds fairly quickly, despite training hard in the gym. This has meant that I have had to play around with my carb intake to find out what I can and can't eat and in what sort of quantity.
Knowing that eating a fairly high daily intake of carbs leads to weight gain for me, I decided to try and vary my carb intake and see what my body could cope with. However, despite excellent results, some diets were just not sustainable. Here are two types of diet I tried.
- Carb Cycling (alternating between No, Low, High carb days)
This produced amazing results and I got pretty lean pretty quickly. However, this type of dieting can only be a short term fix, as it is not a sustainable way of eating.
- No complex carbs at all (apart from veg)
Again, body wise this had very strong results, but the bad moods and craving were not worth the trouble.
Overall, I have settled on the following diet plan when it comes to carbohydrates:
1. I eat a very low carb diet on the days where I do not go to the gym. My only carb intake will be from fruit and veg. Complex carbs or high sugar options, eg. yoghurt or pasta, are out of the question.
2. Bread is a treat once a week. Every Sunday my family and I sit down for a snacky kind of lunch and I indulge in a beautiful Challah role. Definitely worth the wait!
3. On the days I train early in the morning (ie. before lunch) , I will eat a high carb breakfast. This is usually yoghurt, berries and Special K/Oatibix/granola - or some sort of fairly healthy cereal. This gives me the energy I need to go hard in the gym straight after! If I am not training until later in the afternoon, I will skip the carbs at breakfast and have some form of egg.
4. Limited carbs at dinner. I try my hardest to avoid lots of carbs at dinner, apart from vegetables and the odd bit of fruit afterwards. I don't tuck into a bowl of pasta and rarely add many potatoes to my chicken as I don't feel the need. I will fill my plate with protein and a variety of vegetables and it is enough to keep me going throughout the night. Too much complex carbs at this time would be stored in my body as fat, as I would not be active enough to burn them off.
5. I never go more than 2 days without any complex carbs. Most days I will try and eat some sort of complex carb as when you totally cut them out, your body becomes used to this way of eating. Therefore, when you reintroduce them, your body can't cope and the result is even faster weight gain. I will still avoid a big jacket potato, but sweet potatoes and a small helping of rice or couscous is perfect to keep the carb metabolism functioning.
Living in a world where carbs are such a big part of life, I totally understand how difficult it can be to eat a low carb diet. Therefore I have come up with some alternatives for the classic carby treats we all know and love.
1. Instead of Spaghetti Bolognese, give Vegetable Spaghetti Bolognese a go. Simply use a Julienne Cutter to create your own noodle shaped Courgette and/or carrots. Serve with meat sauce, tomato sauce or pesto - whatever you want!
2. Everyone loves a quick snack of cheese and crackers. Well I have an alternative for those high carb, unhealthy crackers. They contain no carb grains whatsoever. Great with PB & J, cheese and chutney or any other combination
Almond and Hazelnut Savoury Crackers:
(180 degrees, 10min, makes 10)
10g melted butter
50g ground almonds
30g ground hazelnuts
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
2 Tbsp milk
3. My take on the classic Apple Crumble Topping. Having served this at a few dinner parties now, I can vouch for the fact it goes down a treat! This recipe has the added bonus of containing no refined sugar whatsoever, so you really can feel good about having it.
Nutty Crumble Topping
(160 degrees, 20 min)
75g ground almonds
35g mixed nuts
15g desiccated coconut
Spread ontop of the fruit of your choice for a delicious crumble
4. Try my chocolate cake made with ground almonds rather than flour - an irresistible, low carb treat!
(180 degrees 40-45 min)
Melt in a saucepan:
6oz dark chocolate
Once melted, add and stir in:
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2oz ground almonds
In a separate bowl:
whisk up 3 egg whites until light and fluffy
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and pour into a cake tin for cooking
Take out after 40ish min and leave to cool.
Melt some dark chocolate and a little bit of butter and cover the top of the cake for some delicious icing
Hope that helps!
This is only a small selection of the low carb dishes I use. They allow me to treat myself fairly regularly without the fear of piling on the pounds and mean I can enjoy classic dishes in a carb free way.
Obviously, carbs are not a problem for everyone and if you can tolerate them, then by all means have your fair share of potatoes and noodles. But for all those carb sufferers out there, I hope this helps. Please get in touch for more recipes and do let me know how you play with carbs in your diet. Enjoy!