By Guy Lawrence
Just the other day somebody pointed out to me that if you can stand up and talk for more than 15 minutes on any one topic, you’re an ‘expert’.
I figured anyone with a motor mouth and a bit of gusto would then fall into this category, depending on how you distinguish ‘expert’. The first image that pops in my mind is one of a tailor cut suit and immaculate white teeth, enough qualifications to create a small novel along with the ability to solve a rubik’s cube in under 60 seconds… Yep, an ‘expert’.
There’s been many a time when I was convinced by the razzle dazzle, gloss and shine of something only to discover what’s underneath a little disappointing. A bit like unwrapping your main present at Christmas to unveil a rocking horse instead of that BMX bike you were hoping for.
Then on the flip side, you get those who live under the radar and just go about their business quietly on a daily basis. No flashing lights and blinking stars with this lot. Their kind of mantra would be ‘Action speaks louder than words’. They drive a beaten up VW with a squillion in the bank account and their shirt is never ironed. ‘Expert’? More than likely.
And me? I’m certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m not the bluntest either. Sometimes opportunities/challenges arise that you can either shy away from or jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride to see what comes of it.
Where am I going with this? Not sure…
But I suddenly found myself the other day at the UTS (University of Sydney) in front of an extremely smart group of academics talking shop on health and nutrition. They were ‘experts’ in their field.
Yet to my amazement, the majority did not know the difference between a simple carbohydrate and a complex carbohydrate! We’re not talking algorithms or E=mc2 kind of stuff, just basic nutrition. The feedback I got was that marketing confuses and that they were too busy to stop and reflect on the impact of what they put in their mouths has on their bodies.
Health seems to come off second best when prioritising. Would it be fair to say that this is the general consensus these days?
So just to clarify and whilst we are on the topic, a complex carbohydrate it is exactly that – complex. Meaning it is made up of other nutrients such as fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals etc. Then a simple carbohydrate is – yep, very simple. i.e. they have been through some form of process and are deprived of their nutritional friends to hang out with.
This alone should raise the question I feel everyone should ask themselves:
How complex are the complex carbohydrates these days?And more importantly, the ones I eat daily?
If you were to write everything down that you ate and drank for two weeks, my guess is you would see a pattern emerge. Generally, we eat a lot of the same kind of foods with most meals being habitual. When we are in routine we are pretty predictable, along with the foods we eat.
So, hot tip No.1: The meals you want to fix first are the high carb ones. The only exception is if you train intensively on a regular basis and you are eating after a workout to replenish your glycogen stores. Even then I would be particular. For the rest of time, continue to keep your meals low GI and as fresh as possible.
Armed with this new found knowledge the next thing you need to understand is that a carbohydrate in its simplest form is sugar. Hard to believe I know, much like there’s more stars in the sky than Coogee beach, but I didn’t write the rules.
So a complex carbohydrate is a carbohydrate containing many other properties along side it including protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. But in its essence, carbohydrate equals sugar. I raise this point as it’s easy to think of carbohydrate differently. If someone cuts back on their sugar intake it’s easy to assume that merely hiding the sugar bowl will do the trick. But you wouldn’t think of a bowl of pasta as sugar would you? Pasta’s key ingredient is white flour, which is processed carbohydrate, which equals sugar. If you eat a bowl of pasta you may as well place your head in the sugar bowl and sniff as you’ll almost get the same effect.
Today in westernised countries most people are starving themselves in an over abundance of food. We eat what we want and not what our body needs, with most of the foods having gone through some form of processing. By doing this we feed the appetite but not necessarily the body as we are actually starving ourselves of vital essential nutrients (ever wondered why you can get hungry quickly? It’s your body crying out for real nutrients). Over time our body becomes at dis-ease, with the most common occurrence of putting on fat.
There is a massive phobia against fat and understandably so, as there is an automatic association of the fat we eat, body fat and cholesterol. But this couldn’t be further from the truth and because of the fat phobia we tend to eat a high carbohydrate/sugar intake. This is a big no-no if you care about your health.
It is important to understand that practically all commercial wheat, rice, oat and similar products have been refined. So what was once nutrient rich and a complex carbohydrate when grown, has now had the main properties stripped leaving the concentrated carb/starch/sugar. This, of course, can begin to create problems as these are the main staple diet for most people in today’s western society.
So begin to look at more complex carbohydrate along with grains like spelt and quinoa. Bring them into your diet and lead by example. No rubik’s cube solving here. If you tell your friends what you are doing they will get curious and before you know it you’ll be an ‘expert’.
For more of a listing of good and bad carbohydrates, visit our site here.