I feel carbs get a bad wrap, they're seen as the macronutrient (food type) that is to blame for weight gain.
There's still a big buzz about 'low carb' diets. I get it, they DO work. But so would a 'low fat' diet. Simply cutting out a macronutrient, or drastically lowering it, isn't the reason for the fat loss.
It's more to do with the fact that a whole macronutrient has been taken out the diet, therefore the calories from that food group, if not replaced from another macronutrient, have been taken out. So it is the overall CALORIC REDUCTION that results in weight/ fat loss, NOT because someone has gone 'low carb'.
If we are to train hard, recover and refuel, then carbs are very beneficial for helping us do this. Carbs basically provide the body with fuel. Not only for when we train, but also for cells to function.
For us to understand carbs better, it is best to learn about them. So in short I will quickly bullet point some information, to help understand carbs better.
- 4 main forms of carbs (as follows)
- Monosaccharides (simple sugars)
- Disaccharides (sucrose, lactose)
- Oligosaccharides (found in veg)
- Polysaccharides (cereal, grains, bread etc.)
- The body can make up any saccharide if deficient in one
- Different types have different speeds at which the body utilises them and releases them into the blood stream
Now you may of heard something called the Glycaemic Index (GI), or the GI of food. Basically this relates to the where it is ranked in conjunction with the bodies blood glucose response. Somewhere down the line this has also been misconstrued. Different forms of carbs will have different GI responses.
You still with me?
When we ingest carbs, they're then transported into the stomach where they're broken down and absorbed into the blood stream.
**Stay with me**
Dependant on what type of carbohydrate it is, will depend on how the body releases it into the bloodstream.
Your more starchy carbs, the polysaccharides, are drip fed into the bloodstream, giving a slow and steady feed to the body.
The monosaccharides are like a bull banging at the gate to be let into the arena. Once released; BANG, it comes flying at you. Insulin shoots up to try and move the carbs into cells and if there isn't enough insulin (or too many carbs), carbs (glucose) is left hanging around in the blood stream. This is what is known as the insulin spike.
Now, BOTH are good, when used in the correct way.
On a side note; someone who has overeaten carbs for prolonged periods of time will build up something that's called 'insulin resistance'. This is where the body struggles to utilise the carbs that are being ingested.
The body then shifts the unused carbs into stored energy (fat). Because the body is struggling to deal with the carbs, it continues to kick out even more insulin, meaning you need more insulin to handle the same amount of carbs. Further down the line and you have onset of diabetes.
Hopefully this is making sense.
If you're someone looking to change your body composition, then learning how to deal with carbohydrates will be beneficial. Dropping carbs slightly so your insulin sensitivity goes back up is certainly a good way to go about things.
That doesn't mean completely dropping carbs altogether. Remember, any exercise for up to 2 minutes uses carbs as a source of energy, thus helping the body to clear stored glycogen. Glycogen is the fuel within the muscle. Once this has be used, it leaves room for more to replace it. Weight training, high intensity intervals and metabolic work is good for this. Obviously we do use carbs when training at longer periods, which is also beneficial too. So pick something you enjoy and can stick to.
Certainly not an in depth look at carbs but I feel if there is a better understanding and how to use them, then there may not be this misinformation surrounding them. I hope I have broken it down in a way that you can understand.
If you fell this is useful information and know someone who may benefit from this article, then give it a share.
(article inspired by Phil Learney)