The Secret to Healthy Eating. Part 4 – Carbohydrates
Posted on 8th February 2016 at 10:54
Today’s article will show you why carbohydrates are essential for a great physique, my carbs of choice and when and how much should you should be taking.
When it comes to fat loss, carbohydrates are probably the most misunderstood macronutrient of all. Most people think that, in order to get into fantastic shape and strip the fat, you must eliminate all carbs immediately. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Firstly, let’s quickly remind ourselves that carbohydrates are sugars that break down inside the body to create glucose. People often seem to struggle with the concept that all carbohydrates are sugar. So essentially, that sweet potato you are eating is broken down into the same thing that’s in your sugary sweets. The difference is, however, whether it’s a simple or complex carbohydrate.
Simple Carbohydrates are sugars that have a molecular construction of either one or two parts, this means that they can be swiftly processed by the body. It’s like logging into your commuter with 1 or 2 passwords- it will only take you a few seconds to log in. Similarly, because these sugars can be processed so quickly they cause major energy spikes. This rapid energy increase is simply due to the body pushing the amount of glucose produced into the cells for instant energy. These simple sugars tend to be found a lot in processed and refined foods, many of which have been disguised by names you have never heard of.
Complex Carbohydrates on the other hand are more complex (pardon the pun). Their molecular structure contains three or more parts which takes the body longer to break down. Like logging into your computer with 5 or 6 different passwords – it will take longer to log in. Relative to their simple cousins, Complex Carbohydrates tend to contain a lot more valuable vitamins, minerals and fibre which are vital for overall health and wellbeing. Because the body breaks down the complex carbohydrates more slowly they tend to provide sustained energy levels over a longer period of time.
At the start of a programme, my clients begin with a 1-2 week insulin sensitising phase. After this initial fortnight, my goal is to try and push my client’s carbohydrate intake up to 30-40% of their total calories.
So which carbohydrates do I recommend and when do I add them in? See the table below for my recommended carbohydrate sources and when it best to consume them.
I use the Glycaemic Index (GI) when deciding which carbohydrates should be eaten and when. Glycaemic Index is the measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise after eating the food. Foods with higher GI levels tend to be better post workout, as the raised insulin levels help to shuttle the carbs into the cell, allowing a greater uptake of nutrients. This may be where the myth of an ‘anabolic window’ or the ‘window of opportunity’ you hear people talk about may have come from.
The slower GI carbohydrates I tend to include in meals away from the workout, or pre workout if my clients are going to be eating 1 ½ – 2 hours before training.
So how many carbs should I be eating for fat loss and when should I add them in? Here is my quick guide to adding carbs back into your diet, assuming that you have needed 2 week’s sensitising.
Please note that you should be getting your body fat checked, or having some way or monitoring how adding the carbs is effecting your body composition. If at any point you see a negative effect on your body and fat loss, pull the carbs back out. Re-sensitize for a few days then go back onto the carb values you were at the week before you made changes that caused a negative response.
It’s important that you are entirely honest with yourself here. If you are a beginner, your training intensity won’t be high enough for you to warrant carbs intra workout. You must learn training intensity before you move onto intra workout carbs. Once you’ve add them in, start slow and build up.
More intermediate – advanced clients should be training at an intensity where the muscles need fuel. Adding 60 grams intra and post training should be no problem for these guys and it should instantly improve the training intensity and work capacity.
So there you have it. Over the last 4 weeks I have shown you how to construct a healthy nutrition plan properly.
How have you found the last 4 weeks?
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