Carbohydrate and Carbs
While protein and fat are primarily building materials, carbohydrates
are premium fuel for your body. As stated earlier, these are the body's
preferred food source and will fuel the body no matter what energy
system is warranted. They are also remarkable at storing energy for
easy and quick usage when your body requires it. Take note, these
foods should be eaten in order to feel full of zest, vigor and almost
unlimited energy in all activity types.
You act according to your energy levels. No energy leads to no actions.
Of all the nutrients, carbohydrates are the most potent in affecting
your energy levels. Even though carbohydrates, like protein yield
only 4 calories per gram whereas fat yields 9, it is proven that ATP
is formed a lot faster from carbohydrates compared to fat. ATP, the
energy currency of your muscle cell, provides a more rapid source
of energy. In fact they provide approximately twice as much energy
compared to fats in the same time (1). During anaerobic exercise such
as resistance training, which uses only carbohydrates as fuel, this
energy formation jumps to almost 5 times (2). In terms of people benefits,
this means that with carbohydrates, you'll be brimming with energy
quicker than with any other food.
This information may sound like you should therefore shy away from
carbohydrate since they produce that much more energy that could turn
to fat. Its true that over consumption of carbohydrates can turn to
fat, but 23 per cent of the carbohydrate calories get burned up during
the conversion process. Keep in mind that storing dietary fat uses
up only 3 per cent. So if you over indulge, at least do it with carbohydrates
and preferably carbs that offer nutritional value. (i.e.. Ones with
vitamins and minerals.)
Carbohydrates produce that much more energy in a particular time frame
and in some time critical tasks, energy production needs to be rapid.
This energy is in terms of conversion to stored ATP which is needed
for muscular movement amongst other things. Fat on the other hand
is very efficient at storing itself in the body and not as efficient
in topping up stores of ATP. Remember it is ATP that gets used up
in exercise and other energy requiring functions of the body, and
ultimately it is responsible for your level of energy.
So you can have plenty of fat in your body to top up ATP stores but
this will occur more slowly. Using fat to top up ATP stores is like
using a garden hose to fill a 25 meter pool. There is too much resistance
encountered and it will therefore take more time. As mentioned before,
this can be changed through exercise and affected by your level of
When carbohydrates are ingested they are broken down into glucose
and stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. Glucose circulates
in the blood, also known as blood sugar. This is used mostly by the
brain and nervous system for energy. The brain uses a whopping 70
per cent of the available blood glucose. If your brain cells are deprived
of glucose, mental power will suffer and because your muscles are
controlled by the brain might leave you feeling weak and shaky. Nervous
system being deprived of glucose can leave you feeling tired, impair
reaction time and leave you lethargic. So limited carbohydrate intake
may be the reason for those times where you know you didn't perform
your best, physically but also mentally.
The glycemic index was developed primarily for diabetic patients to
see how fast a particular food was converted to glucose in the blood.
The higher the index, the faster it converts to glucose. They would
be encouraged to eat foods with a low glycemic index to allow a slower
conversion to blood glucose. Remember a diabetics' insulin, which
is needed to shuttle glucose out of the blood and into the cell, doesn't
function optimally. By eating low glycemic foods they are able to
better control their insulin levels since these foods don't produce
fast conversion rate to glucose because insulin isn't able to clear
The glycemic index was also used to dispel the myth that simple carbohydrates
are nutritionally less dense, cause a high blood sugar response and
should be avoided. That is not true since fruits are mostly simple
carbohydrates but are very nutritious and some have low glycemic index
like grapefruit, apple and pear. Complex carbohydrates such as breads,
pasta and grains were said to produce a low more controlled blood
sugar response and thus thought to have low a glycemic index. This
again isn't true. These foods mentioned elicit a high blood glucose
level and thus have a high glycemic index.
A proposal brought forward by 3,000 physicians, asked the USDA to
ban the four food groups and to reclassify meats and dairy products
as "optional foods"? Well, in 1992 the USDA issued a food
pyramid which emphasized whole grains, then vegetable, then fruits
as the basis for nutrition. These are all high carbohydrate sources,
nutrient dense and energy replenishing. All types of carbohydrates
are recommended by leading nutritionists and that is the reason why
they should top your supermarket list. Foods high in protein and fat
such as meats and dairy products are classified as minor foods.
Grain foods such as bread, cereal, pasta, rice along with vegetables
and fruits should make up the bulk of your daily intake. Three quarters
of your plate should be full with carbohydrates with the remainder
of protein and perhaps a few from low-fat dairy sources. The fats
will take care of themselves. Sources high in carbohydrates are usually
low in fat, especially saturated fat, and by eating them chances are
you won't eat any fat along with them. That isn't always the case.
There are other advantages that can be derived from a high carbohydrate
diet. Carbohydrate spares protein from being used as energy, therefore
leaving it to do its main job to build and repair body tissue, including
muscle. This way you don't have to eat high amounts of protein to
build muscle because protein sources are mostly high in fat, especially
On top of helping to build muscle, carbohydrates also helps in burning
fat. If you think of fat as fuel waiting to be burned, carbohydrate
is the spark that ignites fat at the cellular level. Without it, fat
will not burn as well.
Another benefit to high carbohydrate eating is that these foods, especially
grainy ones, contain fiber. Fiber is indigestible and provides stimulation
of digestive tract muscles. Fiber improves elimination and may also
help safeguard against colon cancer. It can also play a role in fat
loss and weight control. They take longer to eat and provide a full,
satisfied feeling. They lower the secretion of insulin, a hormone
that stimulates appetite. In addition, during digestion and absorption,
high fiber foods use up more energy (calories).
On the contrary, some people seem to think that carbohydrates are
fattening. They don't seem to know where the extra calories are coming
from. The answer lies in the calories from the carbohydrates themselves,
and the calories that come from what the carbohydrates are eaten with.
For example bread spread with butter or margarine, fried potatoes,
pasta with meat sauce and cheese, and many others. So be careful in
what you combine your carbohydrates with, as it can transform low
calorie, low fat diets into high calorie, high fat very quickly. Many
don't seem to make that distinction.
But there is however a downside to carbohydrate. Over ingestion of
carbohydrate can lead to the conversion to fat and ultimately the
storage of fat. However, remember that even though 23 per cent of
the carbohydrate calories are used as energy for the conversion process
to fat stores, the important message is that they do get stored as
fat. So even though it is your body's preferred energy source and
is perfect for generating ATP molecules, you should only consume it
according to your level of activity, and also upcoming level of activity.
Over consumption leads to fat storage.
How do you know if you over consuming? Get measures of body fat levels
regularly and adjust accordingly (weight measurements are not adequate).
But don't worry about it too much. A high carbohydrate diet is still
better than your normal diet in terms of weight loss and definitely
better in terms of energy levels. How do I know? Conclusive statistics
tell me, (and thousands of other doctors and PhDs), so.