For those that love carbs, you’ve been taking a beating lately. Don’t eat carbs, they make you gain weight say the “experts”. Lately, there has been a complete war on carbs and as someone who loves their carbs… it’s time to start a war on the “war on carbs”
Carbs are essential, there’s just no getting around it. Whether your goal is to lose weight or increase sport performance, you’ll just do yourself a disservice if you abandon our friend the carb. For all high intensity, short duration activities, muscle glycogen is the source of energy and muscle glycogen comes from… carbs. Even endurance activities of moderate intensity use glycogen as 50% of your energy needs. In fact, the one limiting factor on your sport performance will be the lack of availability of carbohydrates. Even during low intensity exercise when your body uses a higher percentage of fat as its fuel source, it takes a good supply of carbohydrates to fuel that process. Ever play a sport or involve yourself in a high intensity workout program and you hit the proverbial “wall”… that’s because your body has a lowered supply of glycogen EVEN THOUGH your body has a great supply of fat. Want to perform better… eat your carbs.
What if you want to lose weight; surely you need to decrease your carb intake. After-all, carbs MAKE you fat right? Carbohydrates provide you with variety, necessary nutrients and volume to your diet.
Recommended ranges for carb intake is between 45-65% of your total intake. Weight loss occurs when there is a calorie deficit and not a particular macronutrient profile.
Weight loss occurring on low-carb diets is generally attributed to 2 things… a lower overall calorie intake and loss of body mass. Ever start a diet that restricts your carb intake and seen great results in the beginning weeks? Lower carbs mean lower muscle glycogen stores. For every gram of glucose lost through glycogen you also lose 2.7 grams of water with it. This loss of glycogen combined with water loss is the contributing factor in the initial big losses seen.
Some studies you will read (actually the newspaper headlines you will read… very few read the actual studies) will tell you that we are gaining weight faster than ever even though our fat intake is down. This is partially true. The PERCENTAGE of fat intake in our total diet is down but the actual grams of fat consumed is unchanged all while the total calories consumed in our diets has increased. As well, most studies rely on self-reporting and people generally report eating less than they actually do.
Consider in the 1900’s the typical diet had a higher intake of carbohydrates and a lower intake from fat. Even though our dreaded enemy the carb was consumed at a greater rate, we have only seen the rise of weight issues in the past few decades. In short, the increase in the rise of weight gain we see as a society is largely due to increased calorie and decreased activity.
So, here’s what is so good about carbs:
1. They provide nutrients that you can’t get from fat or protein
2. Adds bulk to your diet
3. Stabilizes blood sugar levels
4. An adequate supply of carbs in your diet spares your body from turning to protein as an energy source meaning that protein can do its job.
5. It’s the body’s preferred energy source
6. Your brain only uses carbs as its energy source
7. You need carbs in order to fuel the process of fat burning
All this doesn’t mean run out for a dozen donuts. Select good choices of veggies, fruit, whole grains… eat ’em up… yum!
Losing weight doesn’t have to be so complicated. Like they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is more than one way to lose weight. Don’t let your fitness plan be swayed daily by the changing tides of news headlines.