In the Atkins-fueled society we live in, especially here on the West coast, the “evil” carbs have been given an unfair shake! I know it's hopefully not like that out in the Midwest where the wheat grows like gold, in Idaho where potatoes are king, or New England where the mighty lobster roll is all they know.
Old man Atkins died an untimely death at a young age, although he may have been skinny and looking good. He may have been lean and mean but he didn’t make it the distance. The Japanese have the longest life expectancy and they eat rice at almost every sitting; they are also one of the healthiest, if not the healthiest races on the planet. The Italians live on pasta and bread, but also take long walks after meals and naps in the afternoon, and they are a beautiful people. The Irish, for the love of St. Patrick, have been potato heads for centuries and they are as strong as oxen, and handsome creatures that could probably rule the world if not for there insatiable love of beer!
Carbs are our friends, as they supply us with our brain fuel that gets us through the marathon of life. Our pastas, rice, grains, root vegetables, these are the essence of life, the colors to paint our canvases as chefs. To me, every great dish starts with a carb and builds from there. It's all part of a balanced meal. As Americans we focus too much on the meat, the center of the plate. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE game, fish, beef, pork, fowl, etc., but we are not built to eat as much meat as we consume. We become overweight from filling our bellies with so much protein that the body cannot digest it quick enough. So the next time you see a really large person walking down the street, think of all that undigested meat just sitting in there … Gross!
Now by cutting down on your proteins and balancing your meals with carbs, you are not just living healthier and stronger, you are actually doing your part to be a “Green” citizen of the planet. With less demand for fish we save the oceans for future generations, with less demand for beef we have more corn and grains to feed the planet, and so on and so on.
Do you ever think to yourself “I really need to exercise more” but you just don’t have the energy? Maybe because you are eating too many sugar-laced foods and you are constantly riding the yo-yo existence of peaks and valleys, or you have been eating too much protein that is giving you a huge burst of energy but not for a long period of time. Carbs will give you the balanced energy you need so that you actually may take a walk, or a jog, or go to the gym. So let's get this straight: if we eat a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, we can actually save the planet, feel compelled to exercise, live as long as the Japanese, dress and live stylishly like the Italians, and drink beer like the Irish! As we are in Vegas I BET you never knew it could all be so easy.
I’m a potato head; you’re a potato head! Thank you Top Chefs, for showing us so many great dishes with my favorite carb — the mighty Potato!
Until next week – Stay FRESH!
Thank you for making GOOD carbs our friend. I am saving this blog to make me feel way less guilty when I eat them::))
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THIS!!! I get so mad when I hear the women at work talk so proudly about how they eat less than 40 carbs a day. Somehow the human race as used delicious carby foods for CENTURIES and have done just fine!
Just FYI, Atkins died at age 72 after he slipped on ice and hit his head against an iron railing. I saw him three weeks earlier and he had the energy of any of your cheftestants.
Hey, Brian. I'm glad you're all about healthy and everything, but I sure do miss your humor. Last season, I laughed so much at your clever weekly blog. You can be healthy and funny at the same time, right?
Brian, I know you mean well, but some of us don't have it so easy. This summer, I've been eating mostly veg - lots of fruit/veggies, some rice/pasta, very little meat/dairy, hardly any processed food. The result? I gained 10+ lbs. over three months, despite a pretty active lifestyle (lots of walking & yoga). Turns out my body all but stopped processing the carbs, as if it was preparing for winter hibernation. By limiting myself to no more than 35 carbs per meal, the pounds are falling off and I feel much better.
Brian - I did not know you were a Registered Dietitan as well as a chef! I agree we need to eat a balanced diet that consists of carbs, protein and fat. Your comment - "We become overweight from filling our bellies with so much protein that the body cannot digest it quick enough. So the next time you see a really large person walking down the street think of all that undigested meat just sitting in there … Gross!" was ridiculous as well as discriminatory to overweight people. What science to you have to back up your statement? Let me educate you a bit - it is a a simple mathematical equation. If we don't expend all the calories we eat, we gain weight. It does not matter if we overeat carbs, protein or fat. In the end, excess calories = weight gain. Stick to what you know best - cooking. Leave the nutrition tutorial to those who know what they are talking about.
Your blogs are great. Thank you for taking the time to write them and staying with fresh and common thinking ideas. I agree with you. Nice to see you are staying so healthy. Keep up the good work.
I usually love your blog, and think you're pretty insightful with your comments. However, you really missed the mark on this one.
Diets are not one size fits all. Some can eat carbs like there's no tomorrow and suffer no ill effects. Others, diabetics in particular, cannot. What the body gets out of carbohydrates is glucose, and glucose is definitely necessary for energy and health. What you're missing is that one can get glucose from other than breads and pastas. There are plenty of carbs in many different kinds of vegetables. Atkins knew this, and recommended lots of vegetables, limited carbs (not NO carbs) and protein. Many nutritionists are coming around to his ideas. The South Beach Diet, which all agree is a very healthy diet, espouses these same ideas. I think your job is to cook and comment on food. I resent your attempt to teach me nutrition, when you're not fully informed on that subject. Please stick to reviewing the chefs and the food scene in general. I'll decide which of the foods they prepare are right for me.
I hate to stereotype, but what a great and thoughtful article by a foodie. Eating lower on the food chain IS good for individual health and the planet. I doubt that our nation will ever switch from the meat-laden, corn and soy stuffed diets that we've grown accustomed to... but for our health, I hope so. Brown rice... quinoa... veggies... legumes. And the occasional potato!
Brian- I am not a no-carb or Atkins acolyte, nor do I subscribe to a strict dogma of the perfect diet. I am, however, a stickler for decent science, and for doing one's homework before spouting off on nutrition. You have have disrepected the former and ignored the latter.
You are way off on your assessment of carbs and proteins and how each is processed by the body. The "undigested meat sitting there" has been debunked thoroughly - you should know better. Proteins and fat are metabolized by the body in a way that allows for continued energy utilization; as opposed to refined carbs, which give a quick hit and then spike insulin levels. These increased insulin levels cause a series of biochemical reactions that cause fat accumulation. Insulin is the only hormone that causes fat accumulation - all others (i.e. testosterone, progesterone) facilitate fat loss. Peoples' ability to metabolize insulin for the most part dictates how fat they will be, not how much steak or fish they eat.
So, if you do the simple math, refined carbs raise insulin and insulin causes fat accumulation. Dietary fat and protein do not cause fat accumulation. With that said, I agree that veggies (especially the colorful ones) are an important, nutritious, and tasty component to any diet. And I do love my carbs, it's just that I dial them down in my diet when I start to put on a few.