Eating with a Purpose: Starches

The last time I posted an entry, I covered general guidelines for all diets.

However, in that information, as a friend of mine kindly pointed out, I left off an important topic: starches. So here I am to correct that.

Starches: The SuperCarbs

I'm not Lex Luthor, I promise
Except much less dramatic and with no cape… and unlike Superman, it doesn’t have godlike powers

Carbohydrates come in three types: sugars, starches and fiber. A starch is a carbohydrate made up of a large number of glucose units. It’s produced by most green plants as an energy store and one component of starch (Amylopectin) is similar in many ways to Glycogen (how animals store energy).

It can’t be dissolved in cold water and it sucks as a mixer for parties. But it makes for a great sandwich. Once, you know… bread.

Bread/Grains

Starches are SuperCarbs. And as anyone who’s watched half a health documentary or listened to one of their health-savvy friends go on endlessly knows… “bread is carbs.” That’s because bread is a grain. And a grain is a starch. Some people choose not to eat bread due to a sensitivity or because of personal choices (Paleo), but the fact stands that whether you believe our bodies are built to handle bread, it is a great source of carbs. And wheat bread, additionally, is a source of soluble fiber, which if you’ll remember is one of the other two types of carbohydrates, which produces bulk in the colon to create bowel regularity. Whole wheat retains the bran and germ which are removed to make white bread, and is lower in calories, lower in carbs, higher in fat and higher in protein than white bread. So, obviously, it depends on what you are looking for in your diet and personal decisions, but wheat bread maintains most of the natural advantages of grain that are lost when the grain is processed.

But why eat grain when you can get all your carbs from vegetables? Maybe it’s just me. Moving on.

As we covered in that last article, when considering how you need to structure your diet, you usually need/want to watch your macros: protein, carbs and fat. Starches are a great source of carbs, and some are a good source of protein, too…

Beans

Deal with it.
Yup. Take that reference, everyone my age.

While constructing your diet, not everything will fall into perfect isolation: only protein from meat, only carbs from veggies, etc. And beans are a good example. The common black (turtle) bean, raw, per 100g, has 63g of carbs, 21g of protein… and ONE gram of fat.

Once you go Black Bean... you go to the bathroom.
Once you go Black Bean… you go to the bathroom.

And if you don’t like black beans, there are more than 40.000 varieties to choose from, in varying ranges of protein and carbs. Even if only a fraction of them are sold worldwide. The only real factor to take into consideration with beans as a starch as a food source with a lot of carbs and moderate amount of protein is that when figuring out your daily percentages, you need to play that ever present balancing act. Kinda like the ever present balancing act of GOOD vs. EVIL.

Evil Starches!

Superman on that Red K (read: sugar)
Superman on that Red K (read: sugar)

Just as with anything on Planet Earth, starches can be twisted against their will in much the same way that Red Kryptonite twists ol’ Kal-El. Starches can be processed into sugar. And above all else, one of the things I most heavily advocate against is sugar. Am I weak? Yes. Do I succumb to my urges and drink Mountain Dew? Yes. Does that make it right? No. Sugars are toxic for your body. As I’ve said before, the problem is a two parter: they provide little or no nutritional value, while making you want them more. It also teaches your brain to see it and associate it with happiness and getting full. Neither of which are really true.  Nevermind that processed and refined starches also make glue for paper, but that’s a completely seperate process and to use that as a scare tactic is something I’ll leave to Fox News to do. But a high intake of sugar can lead to insulin resistance and coronary heart disease.

Faux News
Faux News

Vegetarian Options

Especially if you add Sriracha
Especially if you add Sriracha

However, much like ol’ Supes can be redeemed, so can starches be forgiven for the sugar grievance. We already covered this, but starches, in the form of beans, can be used as a plentiful source of protein. Specifically for those who choose not to eat meat. Or even animal products. Why you would do that… I will never fully understand. Meat is delicious and I cannot get enough of it. But if you choose not to eat the delicious sweet tender flesh of a pig, cow, chicken, duck, deer, kangaroo or any other animal, you can still whip up a pot of chili and get atleast all you need of the three main macros.

On that note, for my next entry, I will be posting a recipe for a vegetarian (no meat) chili both for fun, for you all and because my wife doesn’t eat red meat and I need a recipe for you all that we have actually tried.

Until Next Time

Jacob Summers (SuperSoldier) is not a medical expert in the fields of nutrition or fitness. The opinions expressed here, while researched and vetted against some professionals, are still just the opinions of Jacob Summers as a result of personal experience with himself and those who have sought help from him.

3 thoughts on “Eating with a Purpose: Starches

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