These 2 questions are very common among those who are looking to lose weight and there is alot of different information on the subject. The information given here will be what I believe to be true, based on what I have seen personally and from what I have discovered through my own learning/research. Any research I do myself is proven, from credible sources and science-backed. I also like to keep things simple and realistic when it comes to providing fitness information. So basically, I write stuff that is practical and that works.
Speaking of practical info that you can use straight away, I want to give you the chance now to download my completely free full 7 day slim-down meal plan. Simply click the cover image and receive a full weeks worth of waist-line friendly eating.
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I hope that meal can be of as much use for as I know it has been for many others. Anyway, I will get back to the original topic,
What are Carbs?
As always, I will try to keep this as simple as I can whilst still providing you with the info I feel is necessary. In this section I would like to give you a brief understanding of what carbs actually do. If you’re not fussed about what carbs are and would rather skip to the practical advice, then go straight to the next section.
So carbohydrates, shortened to carbs, are a source of energy for your body. Carbohydrates fall under the category of macronutrients. Macronutrients are where your body get its energy from, there are 4 macronutrients: Carbs, fats, protein and alcohol. Each macronutrient contains a different amount of energy per gram. This energy is commonly measured in and referred to as calories. Both carbs and protein contain 4 calories per gram, fats contain 9 calories per gram and alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. However, they all have different functions within the body.
All foods contain varying amounts of each macronutrient. Often times, a food will contain much more of one macronutrient than the others so will be categorised under that macronutrient. For example, rice contains mostly carbohydrates so we say that rice is a carb. Chicken contains alot more protein than it does carbs or fat, so we categorise chicken under the protein “label”.
Right, back on topic. So we know that carbs are an energy source and 1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories. We also know that you get carbs by consuming certain foods/drinks. Now I will quickly talk about the basic process that occurs when you eat foods containing carbs:
When they enter the body, carbs are broken down into glucose( a type of sugar). Glucose is then released into the blood stream, this rise in blood sugar triggers the release of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps that glucose get into the cells where it is needed in the body. These cells will be in your muscles, brain, anywhere that requires energy within the body.
The glucose can also be stored if there is an excess, it can be converted to glycogen and stored in the muscles or liver. It can also be converted to fat and stored.
That last sentence, for most people, leads to the demonisation of carbs.. It seems obvious, eat an excess of carbs and they get stored as fat. Therefore, avoiding carbs means I won’t get fat. Right?
So, Carbs Should Be Avoided?
Wrong! It isn’t necessarily the excess of carbs that causes fat storage. Firstly, carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy since they are broken down pretty easily and can be stored, as mentioned earlier. Cutting out carbs tends to make people feel like absolute shit due to a lack of energy. Yes, you can convert other macronutrients to energy, but your body finds it much easier to convert carbs. Your body actually wants to use them as energy, it would rather burn them off than convert and store them as fat.
They will only get converted and stored as fat if you consume an overall surplus of energy. Meaning you eat too many calories throughout the day, regardless of where those calories come from.
As an example, we will take a person who needs 2000 calories per day to maintain their current body weight. If they consistently eat over 2000 calories per day, they will gain weight. It doesn’t matter if those calories come from carbs, protein, apples or oreos. Eat more calories than you need and you gain weight. The reverse is also true, eat less calories than you need and you will lose weight. A quick caveat, these facts are based on there being no medical contraindications.
It is for this reason that I believe people who wish to lose weight need to be tracking their calories. I made another post on that subject here.
Are all Carbs The Same?
Now, this is a subject that is debated very heavily. I will not get into this one too much as it could get right outside the scope of this post. In brief terms, no, not all carbohydrate foods are processed the same inside the body. There are some that release their energy faster or slower than others. there are also some that have other benefits to health such as extra vitamins, minerals and also fibre.
In terms of weight loss/gain though, it still comes down to overall calories. However, for general health, the majority of your carb intake should come natural and unprocessed foods. Examples, include vegetables, fruits, lentils, pulses etc. These foods are all carbs and all contain a whole range of different vitamins and minerals to help the body function better. Meanwhile, sweets and cakes may still get converted to glucose just like other carbs, but they don’t contain those extra health benefits.
I know that was a fair bit of info, hopefully I explained it all well enough. In short though, carbs give you energy that is needed for your exercise plan. Many carb containing foods also come with a host of other health benefits. Therefore, they should definitely not be avoided. Any diet plan that insists on completely cutting out an entire macronutrient is most likely bullshit. I will say it again, track your calories, make sure you burn more than you eat and you will lose weight.
If you have any more questions on this article or on how to arrange your nutrition, contact me here and I will do my best to help.
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