Heinz is developing low carb ketchup, Michelob has its low carb Ultra beer, and Subway touts an “Atkins approved” wrap guaranteed to keep you in ketosis. Is this life-without-bread diet something you should consider or just a long-lasting fad? Are carbs really the devil dressed in grain?
There are studies that show eating little to no carbs can cause weight loss, and in some cases, even healthier hearts. Most of these studies, however, involved people who ate pasta like Pavarotti and filled up on white flour like Mrs. Baird. When you cut carbs out of diets like these, of course weight loss results. But what about the moderate eaters out there – like you – who like a bowl of cereal from time to time, and who disagree with the popular opinion that bread is the root of all evil?
Good news: there is much more proof out there that a well-rounded diet with controlled carb intake is the best way to go, both for your physique and your state of mind.
ALL CARBS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Carbs have gotten a bad wrap in recent years, but if you want to build muscle, you’ve got to eat them. They are the best sources of sustained energy, and their effects on blood sugar are essential for lean muscle growth. Carbs are a must-have, but the question remains: which carbs should you eat, how much should you eat, and when should you eat them?
There are two types of carbohydrates: low glycemic (complex) carbohydrates are the ones that digest slowly, giving you a prolonged source of energy; high glycemic (simple) carbs digest quickly, are high in sugar, and spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. Contrary to popular opinion, both types of carbs are essential for building a shirtless-savvy physique.
You need low glycemic carbs, such as fibrous fruits and vegetables, to give you the energy to work out hard, to be on your toes at work, and to have something left over for a little nighttime fun (if you’re so lucky). These complex carbs have little effect on your blood sugar levels, so they are rarely stored as fat.
You need high glycemic carbs, like grains and sugars, to help your body recover after you workout. High glycemic carbs do spike blood sugar and insulin, which is important for muscle growth immediately after training. Your muscles break down during a workout, and your energy stores – called glycogen stores by the science folks – are empty. In order for your muscles to rebuild and your energy to recover, you have to eat some of these simple carbs within one hour. If you don’t, your body composition will suffer, and the foods you do eventually eat will be more likely to store as fat.
The rule of thumb: eat high glycemic carbs after you workout and low glycemic carbs at all other times. Here’s the skinny on telling the difference… Websites like Nutshell Nutrition will provide you with some of the important information that you need in order for you to be informed and knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition and the food that you take.
DEMYSTIFYING THE GLYCEMIC INDEX
I bet by now you’re wondering: what in the world is this glycemic stuff? The glycemic index, simply put, is just a way to measure how carbs break down once you eat them. Imagine a scale of 1 to 100. 100 is the “white bread” of carbs, and the closer a carb is to 100 on the index, the faster is breaks down and the more sugar it contains. The closer to 1 on the scale, the slower the carb breaks down, and the more likely it will provide energy instead of storing as fat.
The highest carbs on the index make the best post-workout foods; the lowest carbs make the best anytime foods, especially those late-in-the-evening snacks. Cut out the “CARB INDEXES” chart in this article, keep it in your kitchen, and that way, you’ll always know which carbs to eat, and when!
“PRODUCING” ENERGY and “GRAINING” LEAN MUSCLE
Now that you understand the difference between the types of carbs, it’s time to get down to business. Here are the coping with carbs guidelines to help you build the body you want without having to live a breadless life.
1.EAT ONE PORTION (THE SIZE OF YOUR FIST) OF LOW-GLYCEMIC CARBS WITH EVERY MEAL. THESE ARE CARBS THAT RANK AT 40 OR LOWER ON THE “CARB INDEX” LIST.
2.EAT HIGH-GLYCEMIC CARBS – THOSE 40 OR HIGHER ON THE LIST – AND PROTEIN WITHIN ONE HOUR OF WORKING OUT.