Is There Really Such a Thing as Zero Calorie Carbs?

Bill McDonald June 29, 2011 20

Healthy Times Article #1

Carbs, net carbs, zero carbs? Is there really such a thing as zero calorie carbs?

With all of these questions and descriptive terms and everyone’s’ fascination with the magic pill for losing weight, it can definitely be intimidating and challenging to determine what to believe and what not to believe. Although this topic could literally take a book by itself to cover, I am going to break it down into easy nut and bolts basics.

Most people who know a little bit about nutrition understand by now that carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. The excessive consumption of carbs by society is arguably the single largest reason for obesity in America (yes, more than good old “Fat”.) “How can carbs be evil,” people ask, They are not, it is certain types of carbs that are evil and devoid of nutritional value.

Let’s take a look at this recent trend towards claims of an anomaly known as Net carbs. Someone came out with the idea to use alcohol sugars in nutrition bars and gums and it keeps spreading to other foods as well. What consumers fail to read and fail to understand is that at the base fundamental level of body weight manipulation it boils down to this, “if you consume more calories than you burn or use, you gain weight. If however, you eat less calories than you burn then you lose weight. Calories are calories whether they indicate 2 net carbs, 4 net carbs or just 24 carbs. Most people mistakenly assume that the only number they have to worry about is the net carbs. I can’t count the number of people that I have met that consume 2 bars because they are only getting a nominal amount of net carbs. What the average health minded person does not realize is that the term, “Alcohol sugars” from which net carbs comes from is not synonymous with zero calories. Alcohol sugars do possess reduced calorie content about ½ to 2/3 the amount of calories per gram, i.e. 1.8 calories to 2.8 calories per gram vs. table sugar at 4 calories per gram but it also takes up to twice as much to reach the same level of sweetness that an equivalent amount of sugar would provide. The benefit that alcohol sugars do provide has to do with insulin response that is tied to what the body does with the dietary sugar we feed it but that should be left for another discussion.

So you may be asking, “What is a healthy alternative to this carb dilemma? How do you eat enough to feel full and satiated without consuming excess calories or getting too much sugar or as we refer to it in the fitness/nutrition/medical world . . . . How do you stay away from High Glycemic index/ High glycemic load foods but still feel full and satisfied. One of the keys to feeling satiated is consumption of fiber rich foods. Let me give you an example as well as a meal suggestion. The following will not apply to you if you are medically allergic to the ingredients, otherwise try it and form your opinion afterwards.

Take 2 large eggs, ¼ cup egg beaters (or egg whites) and scramble them with a dash of pepper, a dash of season salt, couple shakes of Tapo Tio (all no calories), a tsp of minced garlic, ¼ cup of diced red onions ¼ cup of diced yellow onions, 1/2 cup of chopped zuccini,1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers, ½ cup of mushrooms. Sautee vegetables in 1 tbsp of virgin olive oil for 3-5 minutes on med/high then add and scramble eggs. (under 350 calories). I guarantee that this meal will leave you full for hours afterwards (you may not even be able to finish it). Traditional 3 egg Denver Omelet (600-750 calories depending upon the ingredients and oil they use w/ 3 times the fat content and 1/3 the nutritional value)

In addition to leaving you more satiated, the above meal contains less than half the calories of other typical meals and affects your body’s insulin response less. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? You get to eat more, with fewer calories and you lose weight in the process while giving your body better nutrition.

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