CARBS CAN MAKE YOU FAT OR GET YOU SHREDDED!!!
I get into a lot of conversations regarding what to eat, and when to eat it. Specifically in terms of protein and carbohydrates. No one really asks about fats because everyone knows that too much fat in your diet is going to make you fat! Also true, a diet too high in carbohydrates with little exercise, can lead to weight gain.
If you want to go on a low-carb diet, go ahead. I am not going to make any decisions for you, because you can make them on your own. But if you want to know what happens chemically to your body when you do go on that carbohydrate-restricted diet – then listen up.
THE ROLE OF CARBOHYDRATES
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. Period. Without carbs, we are likely to end up with the personality of a zombie… Tired, slow, sluggish, and useless! When carbs are consumed, they are broken down into glucose for immediate use or stored in the liver and muscles. The rest gets converted into fat.
Glucose serves the central nervous system as well, and a deficiency can lead to unneeded tension, stress and irritability. Eliminating carbohydrates from the diet can increase the risk of tissue breakdown, loss of sodium and dehydration (1).
THE ROLE OF PROTEIN
Protein is used to build muscle and repair broken down tissue. If glycogen storages become depleted, energy will come in the form of protein. Now, we have two problems – low glycogen stores and a deficit of muscle protein. Not enough glucose means less energy. Not enough protein means a breakdown of muscle tissue. In effect, this deficiency causes a delay in recovery, loss of energy and central nervous system malfunction.
One study found that when muscle glycogen was reduced over a 1-2 hour period of exercise, and also kept low over the course of 3-4 days from diet restrictions, there was up to a 30% deficit in exercise capacity. The same was true for those who implemented a 3-4 day carbohydrate-restricted diet (2).
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CARBOHYDRATE
The best source of carbohydrates are fresh fruits and veggies. These get absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and are available for immediate use when prepping for exercise. Eat an apple or pear 20 mins before your next workout and I GUARANTEE you’ll notice a difference in energy during your workout.
Next, would come whole grains such as bread, rice and some cereals. These foods take a little longer to get absorbed into the system and are appropriate for longer-duration activities such as distance running or a baseball game. Generally, these foods would be consumed 1-2 hours before the event to allow time for full absorption.
Hopefully, you now have a basic understanding of what carbs and proteins are really all about. But, how does this tie into the first section where I said that eating too many carbs can make you fat? With all this new information at hand, we now know that whatever carbs are not stored as glucose get converted to fat. So, if you enjoy eating pasta and sopping up savory, home-made tomato sauce with thick slices of olive-oil infused garlic bread – THEN FRIGGIN’ EXERCISE!!! Otherwise, you WILL get fat – trust me!
If you enjoy exercising every single week and can’t get enough of BURN 445 Fitness Class, then for goodness sake – PLEASE DON’T GO ON A LOW-CARB DIET. Your energy system will fail you and your central nervous system will go on vacation. Instead, try to plan your meals around your workouts to better utilize the foods that go into your body – you need the energy. Otherwise you may get injured due to increased fatigue and lack of focus – or worse, you’ll get bored and tired because you have no energy.
- The Bodybuilder’s Nutrition Book, Dr. Franco Columbu, 1985
- JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, 1997, 15, 265-275: Diet Composition and the Performance of High-Intensity Exercise (OCTOBER 1996)
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