Are carbs really your enemy?

· December 15, 2016 · 4 minutes to read

The honest answer is… It depends, carbohydrates can be both your friend and your enemy. I think to answer this question properly we need to have a look at first, current states of health and how carbs can impact. Second we need to look at what you’re aiming to achieve and whether carbs fit into that program or not. I’ll do my best to keep this short and to the point but I guarantee nothing, its a huge topic with lots of caveats. Here goes

Health markers for tolerating carbs in your diet.

Here is a list of questions that I ask my current clients and prospective clients that come to me for advice with food and carbs. Do you know if you’re hyperinsulinemic (high blood sugar)? Do you have a history of diabetes in your family? Are you sleep after a high carb meal? Do you have the muffin top and love handles? Are you chronically (long term) stressed? These are just the starter questions. Generally speaking not many people know if they have high blood sugar, but almost every know when they have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Definitions related to carbs.

  • Glucose- A form of sugar found in blood
  • Insulin- A hormone that takes glucose from the blood into the cell
  • glycogen- Stored glucose in cells in the body
  • Insulin resistance- The impairment of insulin being able to get glucose from the blood to the cell
  • Hypoglycemia- low blood sugar
  • Hyperglycemia- High blood sugar
  • Hyperinsulinemia- High levels of insulin in the blood
  • Diabetes Type 1- Your pancreas can not create insulin (insulin dependant)
  • Diabetes Type 2- Your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells in your body do not react to insulin.

All of the above can be exacerbated when you are long term (chronically) stressed . Therefore my general rule is if you’re long term stressed, sleepy after high carb meals, have the muffin top and love handles then accepted carb intake should be lowered and monitored. Banned carbs should be just that banned. Every time you eat a carbohydrate type of food your pancreas releases insulin. Both good quality (low calorie, high nutrient) and poor quality (high calorie, low nutrient) carbs will cause your pancreas to release varying amounts of insulin. Constant intake of low quality carbs will eventually burn out the insulin producing cells of the pancreas leading to serious health complications like type 2 diabetes and then type 1 diabetes.

What are carbs?

For my clients and I carbs fall into 2 categories, all you can eat and limited use. The all you can eat carbs consist of some of the following. Spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage, green beans, carrots, lettuces, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes and squashes to name a few.

The accepted and monitored consist of sweet potato, rice, quinoa and oats. Depending on your current state of health and what your training goals are. There is a set limit for this type of carbohydrate usually 50g a day if you’re looking for really quick results.

Do carbs fit your training goals?

Losing fat, weight and inches means that refined carbs are out. Things like pasta, white potato, wheat products, commercial cereals, chocolates, sweets and sugary drinks are off the menu.  BUT it depends on where you’re starting from, if you’re starting pretty much from scratch with the muffin top and love handles. Then this type of carb is definitely off limits. If you’re a regular gym goer that wants to either improve your performance or shred that next 5% of fat. Adding gluten free pasta, rice, quinoa, white potato and extra grains if you’ve been low carb for a long time could help you get that bit leaner and perform that bit better.

If you’re looking for #gainz (increased muscle mass) then carbs are essential. Good quality carbs will make your body grow.

Here is what you need to remember, all carbs contain information for body to do a job with. Good carbs contain information (low calorie, high nutrient) that can help you lose weight, fat and inches. Lower quality carbs contain lots of calories and very little nutritional value. The decision that you, your trainer or nutritionist have to make is are you going to be on a very low carb, moderately low carb or a well balanced across carbs, proteins and fats diet. Or if you’re one of the lucky ones that can tolerate carbs and you need to be on a higher carb diet to lose weight and fat.

How to divide your macro’s

Let me explain a ‘macro’ its the abbreviated term for a macro-nutrient. Carbohydrate, protein or fat the main food macro’s. Based on your body weight, training goal and time frame of achieving that goal will dictate how you divide macro’s percentage allocation.

Training goal Carbohydrate % Protein % Fat %
Weight loss 20 40 40
Fat loss 15 55 30
Maintenance 33 33 33
Muscle gain 40 30 30
Athletic performance 50 25 25

This table is just an example guide and shouldn’t be taken as gospel for food allowances.

The carbohydrates here are the starchy kind that produce higher amounts of insulin from good quality sources. Rice, beans, quinoa, sweet potato and grains. Any carbs from the all you can eat list I never count into this allowance of macro’s. Purely because they do amazing things for your body and have a low insulin response.

Summing up

Carbs can both hinder and help you in fat loss, my advice is to seek out a trainer or nutritionist who really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition. Ask them lots of questions about food set ups, and why they’re setting things up. Never take whats being said at face value, always ask them why you’re doing a certain things.

Eat as many and as much veggies, dark thin skinned fruits and mushrooms as you can handle. Limit your intake of sweet potato, rice and grains. Completely veto pasta, bread, cereals and refined sugars if you want to lose weight and fat. This is my general rule of thumb when it comes to carbs.

Hope that helps a little for when it comes to carbs and what is what. As always, any questions fire them over in the contact form or email me directly on [email protected]

Much love



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