Tag: carbohydrates

Carbs and Obesity

While I am quite sure most people, including my former self, know and understand why they have a weight control problem, I am equally positive there are many who suffer weight problems because they indeed do lack nutritional understanding. This would be an oversimplification, but we do encounter some people whose understanding of nutrition is not much beyond eating to satiate an immediate hunger. Many people eat to satisfy their hunger with little to no understanding of how the foods they consume are affecting their weight. We have found through interactions with people in our personal lives and from our readers, that while they may be familiar with the macro-nutrient terms carbohydrate, fat, and protein, they really do not understand the role these macro-nutrients play in the body and with their overall health. Think about how many times you might have heard someone mention how bad a fast food hamburger is for their health while having no clue that despite the sodium and saturated beef fat, the actual burger patty is quite possibly the healthiest portion of their fast food meal when you consider all the sugar and simple carbs the rest of the meal contains. For instance, a McDonalds Quarter Pounder with Cheese Value Meal contains  69 grams of sugar!

From McDonald’s website.

Look at the number of total of carbohydrates in this one meal!

This is more than I even target for myself over an entire day of eating.

Now, if you consume these types of meals on a regular basis, and the rest of your meals and snacks are equally high in carbohydrates, you are going to most likely have a weight problem, and are also a candidate for type 2 diabetes.

Some people truly do not know what constitutes a carbohydrate. 

We have found that a good amount of time when you ask an individual what is a carbohydrate, they will answer; sweets and pasta. Ask the same person what a vegetable or fruit is, and they will probably answer that they are vegetables and fruit, as if that is a food type all it’s own. We know from interactions with clients and readers that many people have the misguided notion they can eat unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables without gaining weight.  We also know this to be true from following and studying a major weight loss company’s social media. We have found that many people are surprised to learn that sweets, pasta, fruits and vegetables are all carbohydrates. What they do not understand is carbohydrates are all merely different forms of simple sugar linked together in polymers akin to edible plastic.

Contrary to the “Cult of Keto” we need carbohydrates in our diet!

Our body’s require a certain amount of carbohydrates in our diet for optimum health. We need carbs to fuel our brains which use glucose as it’s primary energy source. Our brains can be gluttonous for glucose considering it uses two thirds of the glucose circulating within your bloodstream even while you are at rest. To feed your brain alone, your body continuously converts carbohydrates into glucose.

Now, here is where it begins getting a bit complicated when it comes to carbohydrates. When your body does not immediately use the carbs you have consumed, they will be stored as glycogen. Our bodies have two storage vessels for this glycogen, they are the liver and our muscles.  The glycogen stored in our muscles is not accessible by the brain. Only the glycogen stored within our liver can be broken down and released back into the bloodstream in order to maintain proper blood sugar levels for proper brain function.

While our liver is a storage vessel for glycogen, it is limited in it’s capacity. The liver can be depleted of glycogen within 10 to 12 hours, therefore the glycogen reserves must be maintained. This is why we need to consume complex carbohydrates.

What happens when you eat too many carbohydrates? 

No matter whether they are being stored in the muscle or liver, your body’s storage capacity for them are limited. If you are of average weight, you can store about 300 to 400 grams of carbohydrates in your muscles, however, you cannot access these carbs. In the liver, where carbs are accessible for glucose conversion, we can only store about 60 to 90 grams. This is equivalent to about 2 cups of cooked pasta, or about 3 candy bars. This quantity is your total reserve capacity to keep your brain functioning at it’s optimum.

Once the glycogen levels have been filled in both the liver and muscles, there is only one thing which happens with the excess – it gets turned into body fat! Even though carbohydrates are not made of fat, they end up as excess fat in your body.

Now, we know that we have a limited storage capacity for the carbs we consume, lets add insult to injury. Any meal or snack you consume that is high in carbohydrates, with an emphasis on simple carbs and sugar, will cause you to experience a rapid rise in blood sugar. To adjust for this rapid rise, your pancreas secretes insulin into the blood stream to lower the levels of blood glucose. While that is all fine and dandy, the issue is one of insulin being a storage hormone which puts aside excess carb calories as fat for future use.

Insulin that is stimulated by excess carbohydrates aggressively promotes the accumulation of body fat!

When we eat more carbohydrates than our body requires, we are actually sending a hormonal message via insulin to make our body’s fat. To rub salt into an open wound, not only does insulin cause our body to store fat, it also prevents it from releasing any of it.  Our own insulin, which we can control through healthy nutritional habits, makes it damn near impossible to use fat as energy. No matter the type of carb, excess amounts in your diet not only make you fat, they ensure you remain fat! This double whammy can prove to be detrimental to your health at best, or even lethal in the worst case scenario.

 

 

Know Your Carbs

I sometimes find it simply incredulous that in this modern world, where all the information known to mankind can be found right in the phone in our hand, there is so little knowledge of basic nutrition. Don’t believe me? Then check out any of the big weight loss forums such as Weight Watchers Connect, My Fitness Pal or Spark People to name just a few. Many people have little to no idea what makes them fat, nor can they figure out how to lose it. We see evidence of this here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness too when we receive private emails from our readers wanting specific advice to help them lose weight. We encounter people almost daily who have no understanding of macronutrients and the role they play in our bodies. It is not uncommon for the question to arise regarding just what is the difference between sugar, simple and complex carbohydrates. It gives me a laugh when I have people tell me that my methodology is too restrictive because I advise to not eat sugar and simple carbs, only for them to tell me they are just going to do “My Keto:.

This in itself tells me they have little understanding of nutrition. And, what in the world is the difference between “My Keto” and just doing Keto anyway…

What are carbohydrates?  

Carbohydrates are forms of sugars, fibers, and starches. They can be found in a wide array of both healthy and unhealthy foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie.  Foods high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet as they provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity.

The healthiest sources are complex carbohydrates which come from unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. These foods promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. Unhealthy sources of carbohydrates, or simple carbs, include added sugars, white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods.  These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.

Simple Carbs are simplistic nutrition!

Simple carbs are sugars. While some of these occur naturally in milk, most of the simple carbs in the American diet are added to foods.

Common simple carbs added to foods include:

raw sugar

brown sugar

corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup

glucose, fructose, and sucrose

fruit juice concentrate

When metabolized, carbohydrates get broken down and turn into sugar. The hormone insulin gets produced by the pancreas and takes sugar from the blood to the cells to use for energy. Because simple or refined carbohydrates, such as white breads and sweets, have little to no fiber content, they are broken down more quickly, creating a faster blood sugar surge and placing more demand on the pancreas. When you have diabetes, either your pancreas isn’t making enough insulin or the insulin it is making isn’t being used efficiently. Over time, excess stress on the pancreas can cause it to burn out, making it difficult to keep up with the glucose load, resulting in high blood sugars. Having too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can cause serious health problems if it’s not treated. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems. For these reasons along with the addictive nature of simple carbohydrates, we recommend not consuming them at all. I can guarantee when you get completely off of sugar and simple carbs, you will find that you feel much better and that weight loss comes easy.

Complex Carbohydrates are smart nutrition.

Complex carbs pack in far more nutrients than simple carbs. They’re higher in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. In limited quantities, they are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes because the fiber component helps manage blood sugar spikes after meals. Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol.

The main sources of dietary fiber include:

fruits

vegetables

nuts

beans

whole grains

For better blood sugar control its best to choose more complex carbohydrates, rich in fiber such as whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, etc. These types of carbohydrates produce a slower glucose rise. In addition, these types of foods are also more nutrient and fiber-rich, making them better choices for weight loss and overall health.

Do not assume you can pig out on complex carbs just because they are healthier than simple carbs!

While  complex carbohydrates are certainly healthier than simple carbs, you cannot eat an endless amount without negatively impacting your blood sugars. The quantity of carbohydrates is just as important as which carbohydrates you choose to eat. Healthy carbohydrate foods are not free foods as Weight Watchers would have their followers believe. All carbohydrates count in your overall nutrition and calorie consumption. For example, oatmeal is a complex, high fiber carbohydrate, but it is still a carbohydrate that will raise blood sugar. Therefore, it’s important to portion control how much you eat. The amount of carbohydrates you should eat per meal varies from person to person and is determined by a variety of factors such as gender, calorie needs, weight, blood sugar control, and activity level. For most people following a consistent carbohydrate meal plan, they are able to eat about 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and obtain good blood sugar control. If you consume more carbohydrates than your body requires, you will find that your odds of experiencing future health problems will increase.

Besides type 2 diabetes and weight gain, long-term complications include:

heart attack or stroke

damage to the eye and loss of vision

kidney disease or failure

nerve problems in the skin, especially the feet, leading to sores, infections, and wound healing problems