Monday, 10 December 2012

Carbohydrates and all things sweet!

Oh how we do love Carbs. And so we should these are the nutrients that fuel our very existence, without them we are nothing. Every movement, every thought and every experience is all made possible by the fantastic role of carbohydrates.

I bet it's been a while since you heard somebody praising carbohydrates for the fuel they are! Carbs usually get the bad rap and we are led to believe that any good weight loss plan should be based on minimal if not zero carbohydrate intake. HOGWASH!
The key to a quick fix weight loss, where you shed a considerable weight is totally achievable on a zero carb diet but try and sustain your weight loss, oh but try, try, try. Let me save you the disappointment, it doesn't work. And the reason why it doesn't work is because physiologically it is "HOGWASH" regardless of what any magazine or wafer thin celeb tells you. Physiology is physiology is physiology! No matter what way you try to trick yourself, you can not trick physiology. It's millions of years ahead of us, literally!!!

The only way to lose weight and sustain it is by "a balanced diet" consisting of appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, fats and protein, and regular resistance training exercise which stresses the musculoskeletal system. This will force more muscle proteins (actin and myosin) into the muscle cells, increasing the metabolic demand. The muscles answer to this is to increase the amount of power stations (mitochondria) which will burn more fuel more often and therefor you can sustain your new desired weight.
By changing to a balanced diet which means thinking about the nutrients you consume and opting for foods which enable you to fulfil your functions will cause you to lose weight steadily. If you couple this with resistance exercise twice a week where you target all the major muscle groups with 20 repetitions of a specific exercise twice, your body will adapt to the change and it will change accordingly.
If you are consistent with this new way of living your body will undergo a metamorphosis over a 4-6month period (Yes! It takes time) and your metabolism will alter. So long as you maintain this you won't need to worry about gaining weight even if you fall off the wagon from time to time.
As you understand this process and your body you can begin to add new types of resistance exercise and different regimes but do remember there are lot and lots of ways of changing your body. BUT you can not change how the physiology works. Understand the process, want to change and read the Nike logo "Just do it".

I'm not saying that carbs can be consumed at will without any consequence. Carboholics are the people who generally end up being over weight. There are many types of carbohydrate foods and the one we all need to be careful of are the sugars. The dreaded sugars.
The two main types of carbohydrates are complex carbs (brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread and pasta) and simple carbs (sweets, biscuits, cakes and chocolate). Both types are essentially the same thing or at least we break them down into the same thing in our bodies but the big difference between them is the rate which our bodies can do this.
Simple carbs can be broken up very quickly, the energy is released very fast and it's totally pointless for our bodies to try and burn fats when there are simple carbs around because these are so economical at providing quick energy. However their staying power is so low that 20mins after consumption your energy will crash because they are all gone and it will take a while to start burning the fats so the bodies answer is to crave more simple carbs. The cravings come about because instinctively our bodies know that the only way to get more energy fast is to eat some simple carbs. That's why you never crave brown rice, fish and salad when you are really hungry.
So you have some more simple carbs and the cycle repeats until you eat a good meal consisting of all three macro nutrients. If you get on a daily sugar roller coaster it is very difficult to break it.
Complex carbs are much more difficult to break open and therefore their energy release is much more gradual than simple carbs. The gradual energy release welcomes the chance for the body to burn some fats with these carbs. Remember fats yield more than twice the energy per gram than carbs so it makes physiological sense to do this. If you have a good complex carb breakfast like porridge it will yield its energy over a long period throughout the day and this will reduce the risk of getting onto a sugar roller coaster.

When we eat any carbohydrate our bodies release a hormone called insulin from the pancreas. The role of insulin is to tell every single cell in the body to stop burning fat and to start burning carbohydrate. Remember in "Nutrition 101" I stated that to store carbs we need to dissolve them in water. This is not cost effective and is why we don't store a huge amount of carbs. Fats are not water soluble and are much more economical to store. So any left over carbs get mixed with fatty acids and stored in fat cells, these too are difficult to break up and will not be accessed so long as insulin and carbohydrates are around.

So a good diet consists of all three macro nutrients (Carbs, Fats and a protein) but the complex carbs are a much better choice every time over simple carbs. I know something's in life just aren't fair but here is the catch. Once you get to your desired shape and weight and you incorporate some regular exercise into your life, which no longer seems like a chore you will get away with eating a bit more junk, so long as you return to the righteous path after faltering!