Eating – Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise – Karma Sense Eating Plan – Part 4D-I


Executive Summary

We’re on the home stretch with our description of the Eating component of the Karma Sense Eating Plan (KSEP). This post covers mantra #4 (of 5), Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise.  A lot of the usual stuff is covered here. What? How Much? When? And everyone’s favorite, Why? But there are a lot of important points for this mantra so realizing that your attention span may be as short as mine, I’ve broken this description into two parts.

If you’re already lost, an index of the entire Karma Sense Eating Plan series can be found here. The shorter but less epic version of the whole kit and caboodle is here.

With the formalities behind, let’s get started. We have a lot of learning to do so please report to…

Home Room

We need to start this post with a few announcements.

While the subject of carbohydrates should be simple, it’s quite complex (LOL! Nutritionist humor!). There are several cliques that would love to influence your relationship with carbohydrates. Many of our decisions on how we deal with carbohydrates are based on peer pressure (both overt and subtle). And so much about how we should actually deal with carbs is driven by hormones.

Hmmm…cliques? Peer pressure? Hormones? Sounds like high school. So in that spirit,

Ring, Ring. Time to go to first period…

English Class

Beowulf, The Scarlet LetterThe Canterbury Tales. You probably remember them all like it was yesterday. Me? I remember the titles and only because they all sound kind of comic book-y to me. Although I actually do remember “The Miller’s Tale” section of  The Canterbury Tales  very well. Wonder why that one lingers?

Anyway, dig a little deeper into that memory. Do you recall that there were five major conflict oriented themes that we were supposed to look for when reading great literature? If not, here’s a reminder. They were:

  1. Man vs. Man
  2. Man vs. Himself
  3. Man vs. Society
  4. Man vs. Nature
  5. Man vs. Giant Nuclear Monsters Whose Purpose in Life is to Trash Tokyo

Coincidentally, almost as if it was planned (but I assure you nothing around here is), these same conflicts can be found within the writings of the Karma Sense Eating Plan. For example,  mantra #2, Eat Protein in Every Meal, was a sassy tale about the disagreement between different nutrition experts who are still debating the amount of protein we should eat at the expense of other macronturients. All this while ignoring that they agree more than they disagree. It’s your classic Man vs. Man.

Mantra #3Eat More Vegetables and Fruits, discussed the conflict we have within ourselves. The angel on our right shoulder is whispering in our ear that we should eat the succotash on our plate. That devil on the left is saying “gee, the dog looks kind of hungry. Hey mom, look over there!” It’s a Man vs. Himself situation.

Now much to your chagrin, mantra #4, Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise is not an example of Man vs. Giant Nuclear Monsters Whose Purpose in Life is to Trash Tokyo. That would be silly. Godzilla is pure protein. The conflict we face with mantra #4 is Man vs. Society. It’s a society that sells and subsidizes highly refined versions of carbohydrates in a way that is not too different from the way that kid in the boys room is peddling dope. It’s a society where nuance and subtlety are not appreciated and that drives everyone to extremes. And it’s a society that recognizes that “healthy” sells and that carbs have an image problem.

So what is the lesson from today’s class?

  1. Because the Karma Sense Eating Plan evokes these classic themes, it obviously is a great piece of literature. It’s right up there with Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! in that it is another piece of writing most people can’t figure out.
  2. Our relationship with carbohydrates is often driven by outside interests with their own agenda. It is each individual’s job to come to peace with the relationship that works best.

Ring, Ring. Time to go to second period…

History Class

Today’s lesson is about the longest war ever fought. To this day, it is still underway. It is a war between loosely knit tribes and it has a lasting effect on our relationship with carbohydrates. The tribes are led by:

  1. The Tasty-But-Empty-Calorie Cabal whose strength is a never ending supply of money.
  2. The “Healthy Lifestyle” Militia who through their extreme and convincing positions elevate their fame and fortune.
  3. The (Karma) Sensible Revolutionaries, a loose-knit rag tag bunch who look out for our best interests. Unfortunately, they’re the underdogs.
  4. House Baratheon

Here is the background that led us to this war.

Ever since the first man and woman ignored a perfectly good portion of reptile protein and snake oil (mantras #2 and #5 respectively) in favor of an apple, carbohydrates have been a source of temptation, shame, and guilt. (Wait. Are we sure it was an apple? A donut seems to make more sense to me. I can’t imagine anyone ever feeling guilty about an apple.)


As the human race continued to grow up, our ancestors ate whatever was available. What was available was a whole crapload of plants and the occasional tasty creature. There wasn’t much time or patience for processing the plants we gathered so things like grain, which we digest better when processed, were eaten sparingly. Let me say that again with some specific emphasis for our paleo brothers and sisters. Things like grain WERE EATEN, sparingly.

On the other hand, foods like fruits were coveted (as long as they were not the neighbor’s), because the sweet taste meant a quick hit of vital energy.

Extra Credit Question: As early humans were taste testing whatever they could find, how do you think it was discovered that poison ivy is not edible? Discuss.

Eventually, we went from hunter-gatherer to farmer-consumer. The management and accessibility of our nutrition became easier. The wealthy ate what they wanted. The poor ate whatever was left.  As cities started to emerge and the middle-class gained expendable income, the wealthy learned that if they could make their leftovers more appealing to the masses, they could raise demand and get better profit margins. And so through the wonders of chemistry and other sciences, they found cheap ways to make bad food taste better. And this is how the first tribe, a well-organized cabal of food processors, advertisers, media companies, and middle-men, was formed. It was a Tasty-But-Empty-Calorie Cabal.

As a society, we were unsophisticated. This allowed commercials like the one below, that positions a highly refined grain and sugar concoction as “part of a healthy breakfast.” The rest of that “healthy” breakfast included juice (fruit with fiber removed and sometimes with added sugar) and jelly (fruit with added sugar) on white toast (with added sugar). Some people even added sugar to the bowl of cereal.

Okay, actually that specific commercial isn’t so bad since all it’s really saying  is “Be like Superman and eat cornflakes.” But it allows me to include a superhero reference, so it’s good enough for me. It also allows me to go on the following tangent  that I will somehow tie back to the subject at hand.

The Superman show was sponsored by Kellogg’s and had a lot of commercials that included the show’s stars. Sometimes Jimmy Olsen was replaced with Perry White. But Lois Lane never got a piece of the action. This wasn’t the glass ceiling at work, at least not directly. Instead, it was because Kellogg’s sold breakfast food and they thought it would be too racy for Lois and Clark to be sharing breakfast.

These days advertisers have no problem referencing sexy time. They get more scrutiny for pushing junk food as healthful. This change only came about because of the subtle yet hand-strung influence of the (Karma) Sensible Revolutionaries who attempt to keep the Tasty-But-Empty-Calorie Cabal accountable. So now instead of making specious health claims, the Cabal resorts to peer pressure by telling us that TGI Frapplebees is a fun place to watch the game, has the tastiest candy-apple-chicken-wings at the strip mall and that you’ll definitely get laid if you go.

Meanwhile, a contingency of people began to cherry pick the results of well-meaning research and turn that into an easily consumable attack on the Tasty-But-Empty-Calorie Cabal. Some did this with the best of intentions. Many did it purely to chip away at the big pile of dough being made by the Cabal. For example, I personally believe that the now mostly discredited low-fat movement was initiated with the best of intentions. It also happened to make wads of cash for vendors of low-fat products such as the only thing more unnatural, horrible, and destructive than a Giant Nuclear Monsters Whose Purpose in Life is to Trash Tokyo. Yes, I’m talking about fat-free salad dressing. Thus, we have the “Healthy Lifestyle” Militia.

Some of the leaders of the Militia include Paleo-Zealots, Anti-Gluteneers, and Bulletproof Extremists. I’ll be the first to say that much of what the Militia preaches would be Karma Sensible if they weren’t so militant about it. But when it comes to a nutrition plan that is healthful and sustainable, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And the beat goes on.

Throughout all this, the (Karma) Sensible Revolutionaries persevere and evangelize moderation in all things. Much like the soldiers in the American Revolution, these warriors are not well positioned to win. They lack funding. They lack data (given that more and more health research is sponsored by the Cabal and they expect a predetermined outcome). They lack the ability to get attention (moderation is dull). What they have is the truth. That’s a pretty powerful weapon.

Every day this war is fought right in front of our eyes as we watch a (Karma) Sensible Revolutionary get a segment on the news followed by a Cabal sponsored commercial break for flavored sugar water, medications to help control diabetes, and previews for the next episode of The Biggest Loser starring members of the “Healthy Lifestyle” Militia.

And that is the story of the longest war ever fought. So what is the lesson from today’s class?

  1. The author of the Karma Sense Eating Plan is intent on weaving superhero references in everything he does.
  2. There is a huge fight for your attention and money where food is concerned. Don’t fall victim to the loudest or most persistent voice.

Ring, Ring. Time to go to third period…

Latin Class

Ood-gay orning-may, ass-clay. Epeat-ray After-yay E-may
[Good morning class. Repeat after me.]

E-thay Arma-Kay Ense-Say Eating-yay An-Play is-yay inclusive-yay. It-yay is-yay esigned-day o-tay ake-may you-yay ealthier-hay, appier-hay, and-yay, oh-yay yeah-yay, ave-say e-thay orld-way.
[The Karma Sense Eating Plan is inclusive. It is designed to make you healthier, happier, and, oh yeah, save the world.]

Very good. Now for the rest of class, proceed to what you usually do despite the assignment…research how to curse in a foreign language.

Ring, Ring. Before progressing to fourth period, a brief announcement.

  1. Will the owner of the red Oldsmobile Alero please remove your car from the parking lot. It has not moved in months and is a neighborhood eyesore?
  2. Will the writer of this post please get to the point for people who just want to know what they should do to honor mantra #4?

Yes, but he’ll do so during fourth period…

Linguistics Class – Elective

Today class we’re going to parse a very dense and succinct statement, Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise.



Whole Food

Whole Food in this sense means minimally (or better yet, not) processed. So you can put away your wallets. I’m not talking about the upscale supermarket (a perfectly fine institution). Do you remember how “processed” was so scientifically defined in mantra #2, Eat Protein at Every Meal? Our definition for this mantra is a little tighter. Aim for sources with the fewest ingredients and all of those ingredients should be real food. For example, ingredients for a box of pasta should theoretically consist of no more than whole grain flour, water, salt, egg. But be wary. Many of these “healthy” options contain sugar, maltodextrin, or corn syrup (which I believe are Tasty-But-Empty-Calorie Cabal terms for “sugar”).


We can delay any propeller head definition of Carbohydrates for science class (Oh yes, there will be a science class). For the purposes of linguistics, we’re focusing on:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Those starchy vegetables that you labeled with #4’s on the list you created for mantra #3 (didn’t make a list? here is a link to a list of starchy vegetables).
  • Fruit
  • Grains in their whole, unprocessed form

A few things to note about this list. The higher up the list, the more I encourage you to select that choice. Yes, beans and legumes are on the protein list too. But, they’re starchy-carby protein. They’re essential for vegetarians, soul food for many cultures and great side dish for meat eaters.

Starchy vegetables are only slightly ahead of fruit. And this is the Karma Sense Eating Plan after all, so do what you want. Who am I to judge?

Grains such as rice, barley, and wheat are perfectly Karma Sensible. I am not “Health Food” Militia extremist who believes grains are the root of all evil including our obesity epidemic, type 2 diabetes, and the cancellation of the TV program Firefly (Hey, it was just a good show).

The Karma Sense Eating Plan does have a place for refined carbohydrates. It’s just not part of mantra #4. Believe me, any plan that won’t support my habit of honoring the original sin of eating a donut or participating in that Ben and Jerry Chubby Hubby Desert Island Experiment (see mantra#3, Eat More Vegetables and Fruits) is not a plan I can endorse. By the way, a lot of people don’t know this but refined carbohydrates are called “refined” because they’re made in a refinery (aka factory). They’re not called refined because they have sophisticated behaviors such as the avoidance of vomiting all over their prom date. True story.

Alcohol is a whole nother kettle of fish (not literally) that I’ll have to find a place to discuss at some point. What the heck is a “nother”, anyway?


By after we mean within 2 hours after. Not before. During  would be messy. More than a couple hours is right out. (It’s like counting to 5 with the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)

This time limit may seem a little too specific for the Karma Sense Eating Plan and indeed it is. This will be discussed further during Science class (Oh yes, there will be a science class). It is much less strict and more nuanced than it currently appears.

Vigorous Exercise

We’ll actually parse this part of the mantra during, what else?

Ring, Ring. Time to go to fifth period…

Physical Education (PE) Class

Let’s go over the specifics of “vigorous exercise”. But first let’s note that these are for moderately healthy and active people. If you’re not quite up to that category, you need to work up to it first. If you are beyond that category, you probably don’t need to worry about reserving your carbohydrates until after exercise. Regardless, check with your health support team before engaging in any significantly new activity routine. (e.g. check with your doctor if you haven’t been exercising at all and want to run an Ironman <not to be confused with the superhero>)

The term “vigorous exercise” is nebulous and subject to much interpretation. For the sake of hanging our hat somewhere, we’ll go with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control definition. With that, intensity can be measured based on one of the following:

  • The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing. If you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. If you are able to sing while doing physical activity, the intensity is considered light. Even though that doesn’t qualify as vigorous, don’t let that stop you from singing. The Karma Sense Eating Plan is all about making you healthy, saving the world, and oh yeah, making you happy. Studies show that singing leads to happiness. So go ahead and sing. Sing the theme from Spiderman or the theme from Batman. Heck, you don’t even have to sing TV superhero themes. I’ve never tried it, but I bet other songs would make you happy too.
  • The relative scale is when you assign a number based on your relative fitness on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is no effort and 10 is 100% all out sprint. Vigorous-intensity physical activity is usually a 7 or 8.

Activities that tend to qualify as vigorous include:

  • Race walking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing <no comments from you jokers in the back>)
  • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
  • Escaping from Tokyo as it is being trashed by Giant Nuclear Monsters.

Because the Karma Sense Eating Plan is all about giving and not taking away, I’m adding moderately intense resistance exercise such as weight training, body weight exercises, etc.

Finally, there’s the question of duration. Ideal is 15-30 minutes of the above before indulging in carbohydrates. Are you moderately healthy and don’t have 30 minutes? Try following the routine discussed in this awesome postDon’t Waste Your Time Exercising.

And that is it for today.

Civil, instructive, well-organized…that’s how your PE class always played out, right?

Ring, Ring. Time for lunch…please be sure to report to sixth period on time (next weekend…)

But if you want a summary of the school day so far…

Key Points

  1. The subject of carbohydrates and your consumption thereof is complicated, highly individualized and made more confusing by outside sources and forces. Don’t let them get to you. Common sense will serve you well. Karma Sense will serve you better.
  2. Aim for minimally processed sources of carbohydrates in the following order of preference (highest to lowest):
    • Beans and lentils
    • Those starchy vegetables that you labeled with #4’s on the list you created for mantra #3
    • Fruit
    • Grains
  3. Other carbohydrates such as those that are highly refined (flour based or added sugar) and alcohol are not included in mantra #4. They are discussed later in the Karma Sense Eating Plan.
  4. Eat whole food carbohydrates within two hours after engaging in vigorous exercise. Specifically, this means:
    • You can’t speak more than a few words without taking a breath or about a 7 or 8 on a relative difficulty scale in which 10 would mean all out effort.
    • Instead of the above, you can participate in moderate resistance exercise such as weight training.
    • Aim for a minimum of 15-30 minutes of physical activity.


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