T Nation

Vegetables & Alternative carb sources

All right, I’ve got a dilemma. I’m on a mildly hypocaloric 40/30/30 (C/P/F) diet while doing strength training twice a week, soccer practice every weekday. My main goal is fat loss.

I try to get my carbs from high-fiber sources like low-carb tortillas, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, along with yogurt, fruit, etc.

I know that I don't incorporate enough veggies in my diet but I don't really like them, and I find it hard to eat the large volume of veggies needed to provide a significant amount of carbs.

My question is whether or not I need to substitute some veggies in for carbs derived from other sources in order to see better results, (currently at 5’2 120 about 23% bf)… and if I really do have to bite the bullet, how can I make them palatable without compromising their benefits by adding something unhealthy?

I would definitely include them. Believe it or not, some of the carb source you listed are somewhat “sketchy.” Whole wheat bread has a GI near regular white bread and low-carb tortillas are LOADED with soy. Fruit is a carb source of controversy around here, but from a personal perspective, I know I gain fat more easily when eating more than one piece fruit per day (fructose cannot be used to restore muscle glycogen). Lastly, lactose, the sugar found in yogurt, is a disaccarhide composed of galactose and glucose. While the glucose is fine, the galactose poses a problem similar to fructose. As such, you often hear complaints of higher-carb dairy smoothing people out.

All that being said, I’d stick with yams, old fashioned oatmeal, multigrain bread, and VEGETABLES! With the exception of carrots (somewhat high GI), you can’t really go wrong with any veggies that you pick. Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, corn, peas…you name it. My favorite trick is Tabasco sauce for adding some pizzaz, but you can also try pepper, etc. Don’t boil them; microwaving and light steaming are okay, though. Hope this helps!

I would agree with Eric; some of your carbs seem sensible, but you might be better off dropping some of the milk and fruit sugar. I hate vegetables, too, but I figured out a way to eat them. I put a salad together with romaine lettuce, raw spinach, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Find a healthy dressing; none of the low fat crap, something oil-based with more good fats and less sugar. I throw the salad into a container and bring it to work, adding the dressing when I’m ready to eat and shaking the container up. It takes a little time and effort to do all of this, but it really pays off. This works for me because I don’t even have to steam or microwave anything.

Gotta go with the list of goodies that Eric provided. Especially yams - yummy. I’m big on tubers - I prefer eating them freshly cooked and nothing added. And another choice for breads is flax seed bread. Ko has gotten some and it was VERY tasty. I also like to mix my steamed vegies in with some brown rice and sliced chicken or red meat for a quickie meal.

Eric gave you some great advice. My wife is in the same boat as you, she hates veggies. To her credit she eats them anyway. One of the few things she does like is romaine lettuce, so she eats a lot of salads with romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery and red and green peppers. She tops it off with a home made dressing of some flax oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, salt & pepper and some splenda. She will also eat steamed brocolli with some olive oil drizzled over it and a little salt and pepper. I think you will find you will feel a lot better when eating some quality green, fiberous vegetable and fat loss will come a little easier.

If fat loss is your main goal, I’d recommend switching to a Renegade-type training program. You will be able to eat even more and still get lean very quickly. It worked well for me last year. I was surprised at how much more food I ate, yet I went from 16% bodyfat to 10-11% within two months. Also, feel free to eat any and all veggies and some fruit. If you’re worried about getting enough carbs from veggies, stick to the higher carb sources like potatoes (white and sweet) and also be sure to eat plenty of greens (brocolli, spinach, kale, etc.) along with all the typical stuff (carrots, corn, zuchini, peppers, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.). As for making them palatable, do whatever it takes to make them taste good to you. Don’t worry about adding some butter or some seasoning. Grilled and stir fry veggies taste great and can still be quite healthy. If you’re staying away from all the bad sources of carbs (rice, cereals, breads, pasta), then you will still get nice and lean even if you are adding fat and other calorie-containing seasonings.

Not to mention that veggies are a main source of phytochemicals and antioxidants. So yes it is extremely important to include veggies especially green leafy ones in your diet.

I agree with everything Eric said save one little item: I don’t think corn is a good carb choice because it is high GI, high carb, and low on micronutrients.

Eric, great post. Informative. Would you be willing to take a look at the “What’s the Deal with Dairy?!?” thread and comment on my last post? I’m struggling with some of the same issues that Kate is, though I do love my vegetables. Blueberries (in a protein shake) are the only fruit I take in, and they’re just so darn good for you that diet or not, I try to get some in a few days a week. I really do need to start incorporating more vegetables, even though I keep carbs pretty low generally, 100g per day, 50 of which is my post-recovery drink (Surge).

I totally understand your pain. I try to get almost all my carbs from green veggies (except post-workout). I was easily eating 2kg of veggies every day, if I kept the choices to “non-sweet” versions (broccoli, green peppers, etc). Urg. I started including peas, and now it’s only about 1kg a day. It’s still a lot of work, and honestly, I just devote a lot of time to eating.

Here’s the kicker, for quite awhile I didn’t lose any fat - but I gained (still gaining) muscle like mad. It has totally kick-started my system that way. Recently, I’ve just started doing cardio (with a tin of salmon and a cup of coffee in my belly) in the morning, and then having a “normal” day (food, workout in the evening). The fat is just melting off. But I’m still gaining muscle!

Full props to the boys that got me on this diet, and for those who encouraged it.

Anyway, if you’re not going to ‘replace’ carbs with veggies (which is hella work), I would recommend eating ‘easy’ veggies with some meals. Cucumbers and green (red, orange, etc.) peppers are really easy snacks - you can eat a pepper like an apple (but gets some stares). Foods like broccoli and cauliflower have to be “portions” of your meals and are a bit more work.

The health benefits of veggies are ephemeral. Good luck.

Not to be a language nazi, but “ephemeral” mean transient, short-lived, or vanishing. That’s not what you meant to say, is it?

I’ll check it out. Keep the blueberries; they’re one of the best things you can possibly eat. Unfortunately, fresh ones are tough to come by this time of year:(

Cold yams and cinnamon…yummee…

Brussel sprouts. I wonder why no one mentioned them. They are a great source of carbs.

'Cause Brussell Sprouts are yucky. Maybe it’s a Europe thing, where they taste good? :slight_smile:

Zev, you’re right, I didn’t mean that. What I meant is that the benefits are hard to notice. The “antioxidants” and “phytochemicals” don’t really have an immeditate effect and are hard to quantify. I meant “hard to grasp” “difficult to understand” “elusive” “hard to notice” etc.

Don’t worry, I’d rather have a grammar error pointed out by a bud, rather than an employer! I should have used “elusive”

With marshmellows, too? hee hee

I don’t know about you, but the image of Homer Simpson frolicking through chocolate land just popped into my head:) You know-the episode when he takes a big bite out of the chocolate lamppost, the chocolate dog, etc. But I digress…this post has officially been sabotaged.

Pressures on to continue with the hijacking…

Hey, I don't watch much of the Simpsons - but I did see that ep! Man, I had my OWN dreams of chocolate waterfalls.....I just watched a ep of Homer on that hunger strike....you know, to keep the Isotopes from moving to Albuquerque.....

Thanks for everyone, especially Eric, for your input. I have a feeling it will really help me out.

The responses raised two questions, however:

  • Nate Dogg, what exactly is Renegade training and how can I learn more?

  • What is the GI for yams?

I’m assuming that most veggies are low enough GI/relative carb content that eating them with dressings like flax or olive oil won’t have a negative effect…

Thanks again

While corn may be a little higher in calories, it only has a GI of 55. Plus, I like it:)