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.
You say you’re overweight and don’t dare be seen in public in a bathing suit? Yet, that gym membership you signed up for in the dead of winter just isn’t being used lately? And, it’s just too dang hot to walk outside?
Don’t let your pride stop you from a workout in the pool. If you are overweight, exercising in water is even more beneficial than one done on-air, such as a stationary bike or treadmill. Because you’re pushing against water, rather than air, you’re increasing the stress on muscle mass, burning more calories. This process promotes muscle growth, not to mention cardiovascular training. In fact, water exercise is the best choice for those who are carrying around excess weight. For that, all you need is your membership and Jets One Piece Swimwear that you can wear as you go out and exercise. That is going to get the very best comfort as you go for your water aerobics class.
That’s what I discovered last week when I bit the bullet and stuffed myself into the old swimming suit that I bought when I was 40 pounds lighter. I was glad I did. I was weary from joining my in-shape 160-pound trim husband on daily walks up to our mountain, walking our dog in the summer heat. Yet, I still wanted to burn more calories. That’s what losing weight is all about—burning more calories than you take into your body.
What’s more, water exercise is more pleasurable if you’re overweight. To an overweight person, walking puts added pressure on joints. What’s more, it’s highly recommended for people who struggle with health concerns such as arthritis and diabetes. I had a friend, once, who suffered from diabetes. As a result of exercising almost every day in the pool one summer, she amazed her doctor by drastically lowering her blood sugar to a normal number. It was she who introduced me to water aerobics about ten years ago when I lived in Florida. At that time, I was the only one in the water aerobics class who wasn’t a senior citizen, so I felt a bit awkward at first. Then, when I discovered how much fun it was, I loved being there, as well as getting to know folks a little older than myself.
Now that I am a senior citizen, I’m now the old lady at the community pool where 99% of the swimmers are kids enjoying their summer vacation. But, again, I don’t care. I’m having fun.
When I learned that I was burning more calories in the water as opposed to doing the same routine on land, I was even more excited. Why not burn 130 calories swimming for 15 minutes rather than 125 calories for the same amount of time on a stationary bike? Better yet, why not gradually increase your time to half an hour, then an hour? Just yesterday, I amazed myself by exercising in our community pool for an entire hour, without stopping to lie in the sun. At the gym where I’ve had a membership since winter, I never walk the treadmill for more than half an hour. I’m ready to “do my time” and get out of there. Yet, I didn’t even want to leave after an hour, yesterday. I forgot to bring my suntan lotion, so I left before I turned into a lobster.
And, even if you can’t swim, you can still get a great workout in the water. You can water walk, do the bicycle kick, the scissors kick, the frog kick, or any kick you can imagine, as you hang onto the side of the pool. Just make sure you can touch your feet to the floor of the pool, as well as keep your head out of water.
It’s also a good idea to invest in an inexpensive Styrofoam “noodle” that you can pick up at most sporting and department stores. Noodles come in bright primary colors and are used as a prop to hold onto as you kick your legs in the water. A few of my favorite water exercises, done holding onto a noodle, are the scissors kick and the dog paddle. However, my favorite stroke is just lying on my back, doing the backstroke, back and forth, across the pool. When I tire of that, I simply walk in the water or do exercises holding onto the side of the pool. I also love to dance in the pool. Why not do the twist, even the cha-cha-cha, as you burn calories and have fun?
So go ahead. Take the plunge and start your summer aerobics program before fall is here and your community pool is closed. And if you find you’re really addicted to water aerobics, perhaps you can find a heated pool (such as at a local college or “Y”) to continue your exercise program when the weather is too cold to swim.