Monday, 13 April 2009

Carb belly?

I have many slim Asian friends who refer to their 'rice bellies'--the phenomenon of being slim all over, except for a little roundness in the tummy area. Now, to my eye, they have no rice bellies to speak of, but they did get me thinking about an anecdotal observation of mine.

I definitely do get carb belly. Generally, I see it when I eat over 120g of carbs a day, which can happen, since I set my upper limit as 150 (not counting fiber). My daily carb count can vary between 50-150g on any given day.

There is more leeway for carbs in my diet because I'm not trying to lose weight. Also, 150g of carbs generally means I ate more fruit, including dried fruit, than usual, or I had more chocolate than usual--not that I went nose down into a baguette.

In any case, I do notice a little belly when I hit my upper carb limit. Generally when I see the carb belly, I know it's time to take it down for a few days, and I'll usually go right back down to about 50g. 3 days of 50g usually puts my belly to rights again.

The other thing I notice with carb belly is that, per my trusty (and I say that with sarcasm, because I have no idea how accurate it is) Tanita bodyfat scale, my body fat jumps ~3 percentage points along with the carb belly. My theory, since the scale judges body fat with electrical impulses, is that extra carbs somehow screw with water retention, which in turn screws with the readings.

It's observations like this that reinforce how important what you eat is to how you look and how you feel about yourself. Oh, and that remind me to watch my carb intake ;)


Anonymous said...

Well said! When I eat a big bowl of popcorn I go bloaty. Doesn't much stop me from doing it though, ah well.

- Sagan

cmason said...

I wouldn't put too much faith in a bodyfat scale. Those generally measure bodyfat by electrical resistance - which varies greatly with factors such as hydration status.

The readings from them are so varied as to be nearly worthless.

healthy ashley said...

This is interesting! I'd really like to watch it in myself. Lately I have a belly of something! :)

Cave Cooking said...

LHITRW-Omg, that used to happen to me every time I ate popcorn! I feel like less of a freak now :)

cmason-yeah, I use it more to see if I have substantial variations than for the exact #s.

HA-LOL. Definitely worth paying attention to. And if you can be eating the same # of calories and just vary the composition of your diet (i.e. up the protein, drop the carbs) to get your desired result, rather than having to cut back on total intake, it's probably easier to do.

Matthew C. Baldwin said...

Don't take this the wrong way, cause I'm sure you're totally normal.

But those of us who are or become borderline obsessive about food have to worry about body dysmorphic disorder (google it)... i.e. wrongly perceiving the image of our bodies.

One or two days of overdoing carbs could cause you to bloat, or add extra fat, I guess, and, yeah I see some wild swings on my Tanita too, but basically, scads of factors play into how our bodies are shaped at any given moment (hydration, gravity, rest, temperature, muscle pump, etc.) so, really, don't trust your eyes. Use reliable and repeatable metrics taken at the same time and in the same way, and observe the moving averages, not the individual data points, which themselves also waver.

Kat said...

I have almost completely given up all bread, pasta, rice, and most other carbs because of the "puffy" feeling they give me. My whole body just feels inflamed whenever I eat them, and I feel much more sluggish too. When I omit these foods I have so much more energy and feel great!