Personal Trainer Tips: What’s the Big Deal about Carbs?
Starchy carbs get so much attention when it comes to nutrition conversations because they are the biggest double-edged sword our bodies have to deal with. On one hand, all of our energy in the body comes from glucose molecules (carbs in their basic sugar form) but on the other, our bodies weren’t designed to be surrounded by so many readily available carbs.
So when our body does get an onslaught of starchy carbs (usually from refined sugars in all of our indulgence foods or simple carbs found in anything baked with flour), it handles them by releasing insulin. Insulin is responsible for a lot of important functions in the body, but by design, it is a storage hormone. So instead of signaling our body to burn fat, our bodies actually get the signal to store fat whenever we eat a lot of starchy carbs.
This is why you can expect to make the biggest dent in your weight loss if you begin to control starchy carbs with every meal.
Where are Carbs Found?
Carbs are found in a lot of different foods but in general you can view them in this distinction:
FIBROUS VS. STARCHY
Fibrous Carb Rich Foods that Help with Fat Loss:
Starchy Carbs that Work Against Fat Loss:
Fizzy drinks, fruit juices, fruit drinks
Desserts, cakes and biscuits
Processed refined grains like wheat flour or white rice
Potatoes, chips and crisps
Bread and pasta made with any refined flour
Pulses, legumes and root veg (if over consumed)
What Do We Mean by “Controlling” Starchy Carbs?
First, notice that the emphasis is not on eliminating carbs but rather on controlling them. Our brains tend to be resistant to restriction, so we want to add the right foods to crowd out the foods that aren’t serving our interests.
In addition, “controlling” carbs also acknowledges that it’s not realistic to avoid all of the foods in the “Against Fat Loss” carb lists. We all like to indulge, so it’s important to learn how to enjoy those foods without affecting your waist line.
In this context you, can think of carb control as substitutional. The goal is to substitute as many of the “against fat loss” carbs with “help with fat loss” carbs.
So in order to achieve the above, you will be required to practice one (or both) of these strategies throughout your day to control carbs:
1. Substitute the carbs not working for you with more quality carbs
• Fill more of your plate with protein or crowd it out with more veggies (as they are technically a carb as well)
• Shift from more processed foods to less processed foods
• Shift from wheat breads and white rice to spelt bread and brown rice
• Swap pastas for quinoa
• Chips to potatoes (or any root vegetable)
2. Eat your “Against Fat Loss” carbs after a workout
The intense workouts I design are designed to drain your muscles of as much sugar as possible. Thus, right after a workout, your body is keener on storing any incoming sugars (i.e. carbs) into your muscles instead of into fat. Thus, if you still wish to indulge in pastas, pizzas, breads, sweets etc. feel free to do so ONLY after your workouts. You can even think of it as a way of “earning your indulgence carbs.” This should not be done daily, however. But a few times per week is ok. :)
And don't forget your portions!
I suggest you eat around 10 bites of carbs at each meal. So count your mouthfuls - it's so easy and you don't need scales!
I hope this gives you a better understanding of what carbs truly are and how they work in the body!
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