CORRECT CARBOHYDRATE CHOICES!
These are a sample of some of the most common questions our personal trainers are asked concerning nutrition and the correct use of carbohydrates.
My sister tells me that carbohydrates make a person fat. My old trainer tells me that is rubbish! Who is right?!
Good question. They are both right….and they are both wrong!!
Your old trainer will undoubtedly have told you that if you eat more calories than you expend, then anything can be stored as fat – be it protein, fat or carbohydrate. And he/she is bang on the money here. Yet this is a very simplistic view and will not provide a remedy for those who have ever struggled to drop body fat.
Your sister’s view that carbohydrates make us fat is, well let’s be polite about a family member here, flawed. Good healthy carbohydrate choices such as oatmeal, brown rice, and yams will have a hard time making a young, fit and active person fat. However, here is the deal – the people who need to watch their carbohydrate intake are the overwhelming percentage of us who don’t fit into that young (under the age of 25 in most cases) and active bracket. It is far beyond the scope of this article to explain in detail why this is the case. Suffice to say that as we age, gain fat, and live increasingly sedentary lives we become increasingly resistant to insulin, the hormone that is responsible for ensuring where our carbohydrate consumption ends up (in the muscles as energy, or on the hips as blubber), and so we need to practice careful and judicious carbohydrate consumption in order to maintain a lean and healthy body.
I will also add that the above paragraph is particularly relevant to any of you who ever have the mid afternoon crash where all you want to do is curl up under your office desk and take a nap. This happens because your body is no longer sensitive to the effects of insulin and so must produce a tonne of the stuff to shift your lunchtime carbohydrates from your bloodstream into your muscles / fat cells. You go form high blood sugar to very low blood sugar, grow sleepy and then have those Mars bar cravings which kick off the whole viscous cycle again! Don’t worry, there is a way around this and if any of these symptoms sound like you please go and read the article we have written for our unique Metabolic Rejuvenation Plan and start shedding those unwanted pounds right away!
Why are dietary recommendations for carbohydrates often higher than protein?
In an ideal, non insulin resistant, world carbohydrates are the body’s preferential and most effective energy source. Any endurance athlete for instance needs to ensure that her diet is always relatively high in carbohydrates to ensure adequate glycogen levels to fuel her running. Clever carbohydrate sources also provide important healthy nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, fibre and other substances that have a positive impact on health (including bioflavonoids and phytochemicals).
It is also worth adding that carbohydrates are considered to be “protein sparing”, as they can be used for energy, saving protein for the role of muscle tissue repair and building. Lastly, the brain and central nervous system run best on a fuel of glucose. That is why people feel a bit “strung out” when they go too long without eating or consume insufficient carbohydrates. A word of warning though – not all carbohydrates are created equal, and nor can many people deal with carbohydrates in an efficient and effective manner.
If I eat carbohydrates late at night will all those calories end up on my hips?!
We are not the biggest fans of significant carbohydrate consumption for anybody who is over 10% body fat. But even we think this late night eating theory is utter garbage. In truth, the body becomes LESS insulin resistant as the day wears on, so eating carbohydrates later in the day (as opposed to earlier) makes increasing sense. This flies in the face of a lot of previous thinking, and for a more detailed discussion of this subject read our more detailed articles, but contemplate one thing for a few moments. The human body is a remarkable organism and tends to do everything for a reason. A common side effect of low carbohydrate diets is an increased difficulty in falling asleep. We are in fact programmed to eat carbohydrates later in the day, not earlier.
Is it the carbohydrates that are making people so fat these days?
There is no simple answer to this. In basic terms, the expanding waistlines of the western world can in part be blamed on the over abundance of processed carbohydrates thrown at us in fast-food restaurants and via ready meals. Some dieticians will tell you that its merely excess calories that make you fat, and they are right, but only up to a point. If we were to substitute the awful food choices many overweight people make with healthier options with more protein and fat, but the same calories, I can guarantee you that there would be far fewer obese people in the world.
Is it true that fruit makes you fat?
Of course it doesn’t!!
However, if you are dieting to lose body fat, too much fruit will certainly retard your efforts and caution should be exercised until the goals have been reached.
Will wheat make me fat?
Only if you add full fat milk and sugar to your healthy, organic, unprocessed wheat cereal! However, wheat may cause bloating in a small percentage of people who are allergic to it. The sensible consumption of wheat products will not make you fat.