The world has gone no carb crazy and for what exact reason, I am not quite sure.
Low carbohydrate intake diets have been around for quite sometime and many have been made to believe and associate the “carb” as the devil himself. In fact people that are not even trying to lose weight associate carbs with gaining weight and being unhealthy and “bad” for you. Is this correct? I believe this is far from the truth. and I will explain my argument below.
Why the Low GI craze?
Say it with me (nice and slow) : “Karhb-oh!!!-Foh-beeeeee-uh?????”
Carbohydrates are nothing more than a fancy name for sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, your pancreas secretes insulin ( the hormone that enables you to digest starches and sugars). The release of this insulin is sometimes referred to an insulin spike. Some carbohydrates will provide less of a spike than others. This is why some carbs are labelled as LOW GI, meaning they affect your blood sugar levels less than others. Eating Sucrose ( sugar) ( a simple carb) ,foods provokes higher insulin than eating for example a complex carbohydrate such as brown rice. However some even perfectly healthy foods, such as say a carrot, white bread or a potato have more simple sugars in them than other “healthy” food such as, say an apple, whole wheat bread or squash. The GI ( Glycaemic Index) gives you a good idea of how foods rank based on how they affect your insulin secretion. The reason why it is good to rather have more of complex carbs than simple is that your body won’t be affected negatively in terms of energy levels. Simply put, Lower GI means less insulin spikes, means sustained energy for longer, means happy human with more energy for a longer period of time v insulin spike, sugar high, happy human short period, crash and sad fatigued human for rest of the day. Gettit? good.
So ah…why the “carbs are bad for you” theory?
Because people believe what is easiest to “digest” in their mind, literally.
Its easy to understand a simple theory and what the media establish as the truth than to sit down and do research on the real truth. Think about it this way. If you work as a lawyer, generally your job is to argue your clients version of the story as best as you can so that it is believable as the truth. That version may not in fact be the truth, but you may still win the argument. Why? because the way in which you put an argument forward and how you back it up is essentially what stands, and not necessary the (whole) or part-truth. So, if I am able to (for the lack of a better word) bullshit my version to you in a way that sounds so good, you have no choice at that given moment ( because of maybe not being put a better version to you at that particular point in time or the fact that you are naive or lazy to find out the real truth), AND! >>> I have manipulated the set of facts in the “correct” manner, I am able to make you, and the rest of the nation, in fact believe that my version of the story is true.
The same goes for some person who came up with the theory that carbohydrates are bad. It sounded so good that it was too good to not be believable, but that does not mean that that is essentially truth. And people believe what sounds the best to them ( like the sound of a sweet harp , so delicately playing in the background). It sounds legitimate: ” Fat people eat a lot of: chips, burgers, cakes, sugar, bread, fried doughs, buns, bagels and those are all carbs, so carbs make you fat!!! therefore carbs are bad! end of story………” Cool story bro….
What they fail to mention to you is this:
Carbohydrates are arguably the most important source of energy for athletes. ( are athletes fat? I think not. ) No matter what sport you play, carbs FUEL all muscle contractions.
How carbs work? briefly, Once eaten carbs breakdown into smaller molecules: sugars being Glucose, Fructose and galactose) that get absorbed and used as energy. In a nutshell any glucose that is not needed right away gets stored in the muscles and in the liver in the form of glycogen. Once the glycogen stores are filled up ( literally filled up ), all extra gets stored as FAT. and that is what makes you fat. EATING MORE OF WHAT IS NEEDED than WHAT YOU ARE BURNING and using as energy.
So carbs are important to provide you with sustained energy, but what they also fail to mention is that carbs have other specific functions such as fueling the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the brain. What they also fail to tell you is that… ( yes this might come as a surprise to many) but:
Carbs help you to build muscle. How?
Before training: Your body needs maximum energy to perform at maximum level. If you do not get enough energy from complex carbs, you will not be working as hard and this can limit your muscle building potential.
After training: A simple Carb (because it is digested faster) is important after a workout as your muscles are desperately trying to repair and rebuild and are in need of nutrients and energy that has been depleted. This is the best time to have a simple carb in fact as your body will take it up immediately and will raise depleted insulin levels and will speed up the process of protein sysnthesis. ( rebuilding broken muscle tissue.)
Okay so its good for you in that case but then why do people get fat? simply put and as stated above: people simply do not track their carb intake, they eat as much as they please and whenever they feel like it and more than what they are using / needed as energy and people eat foods that are high in saturated fats and oils.
So low carb is the way forward then instead of no carbs? is that what I am saying?
No. What I am saying is that your body is very clever at getting used to whatever you start to do as a routine and this includes eating, if you eat low carb for too long your body at first will struggle to adjust to this new way of eating and then you will see changes. GREAT!!!! but then your body is clever and gets used to it and thus you hit a plateau. ( a point where you are no longer seeing positive changes) or sometime s maybe even a reversal ( hence why people crash diet: lose weight, gain weight.)
Following a Low carb diet for too long is also not good because your body starts to EAT its own muscle literally when it doesn’t have enough stored carbohydrates. In any case it should not be a diet. It should be a healthy lifestyle.
So I’m screwed either way then?
NO. Ask any bodybuilder how they got to where they are today and they will tell you this: Manipulation of carbohydrate intake, good fats intake and protein intake based on your personal goal, weight, age and activity level. If you are an athlete you will need to take up macros differently to someone who sits at a desk all day and only trains once a week and so forth. The math is easy:
The more you exercise, the more you need to fuel your body with the right type of fats, protein and carbs. The more you are sitting on your ass all day, the less energy you need.
You always have to give your body something to be challenged with thus for the sake of brevity: You can have more carbs days where you train a lot harder and days that you are resting have less and so forth.
Ultimately the theory that Carbohydrates are “bad” for you in my opinion is BC. You need them in order to operate. They key is:
“to not abuse them but manipulate them according to your ultimate goal.”- angie.