Yes. This guy did eat too much sugar and simple carbs.
You are obsessed.
No really, you are.
And it may not entirely be your fault. I mean you get hit over the head with it all the time.
Carb this, Carb that, Carb the other thing.
What is it about Carbohydrates that elicits such an emotional response from the vast majority of us?
I suspect it is because there is so much confusion out there about the subject. Good carbs, bad carbs, sugar vs. agave, whole grains, etc. etc. etc.
I mean you all think I hate carbs, right?
The answer to that is no, because I am not a hater.
But I do approach carbohydrate intake with some caution.
Because I have been fighting the effects of poor dietary choices for almost 30 years now.
Yes, I wrecked myself with carb excess. Because when it comes down to it that is what Type 2 diabetes is all about. Too much sugar in the system too much of the time. Pancreas poops out. Voila – diabetes.
And yes, I am trying to scare you. There is an epidemic of overweight and obese adults, and even more gut wrenching, overweight and obese children.
Now this is a fairly long post, but you ignore it at your own peril.
You owe it to yourself and your children if you have them to understand carbohydrate metabolism and how you can make it work for you, not against you.
That is what Habit 4 is all about.
Eat Your Way Right Habit 4: Did I eat my “other” carbs only after resistance exercise today?
Let’s briefly talk about the second part, “Resistance Exercise”, first.
By resistance exercise we are talking about barbell weight training, high intensity metabolic resistance training, circuit training with weights or other forms of resistance (bands, kettlebells, suspension trainers, etc.), not traditional cardiovascular exercise modalities such as treadmill, elliptical, running, etc.
Carbohydrate Metabolism and Insulin
Carbohydrate is not a dirty word. Your body functions best when you eat carbohydrates, that’s not really the question.
Let’s put it this way. If I ask most people what they think about when they hear the words “Carb” or “Carbohydrate” this is the answers I get:
- French Fries
and they are right, those all contain a lot of carbohydrate.
But here’s another list:
- Green Beans
- Whole Grains (not pretend whole grains, I mean “whole” whole grains)
These are all carbohydrates too!
The big difference is the way your body handles these carbohydrates.
The first list is made up of simple carbs. Simple carbs are made up of one or two sugar molecules and break down very quickly and easily.
The second list are what we call complex carbs. These are compromised of more than two sugar groups, and these take much longer to break down in your system.
Both of these, simple and complex carbs, are digested into simple sugars before the body uses them.
But there is a big difference in the speed of digestion between a cinnamon roll and a string bean, or even a bowl of oatmeal for that matter.
This speed of digestion is also a factor in how much insulin is released into our bloodstream.
High speed carb, more insulin. Low speed carb, less insulin.
(I am getting to the point, I promise.)
Insulin is a storage hormone, and it has very powerful effects on the body. It is responsible for shuttling nutrients (glucose, amino acids, fats) into our bodies cells. It is necessary for life, which is why type 1 Diabetics need to have insulin shots. Their pancreas isn’t working anymore, so they need outside intervention.
Now I am really going to simplify here, but think about it.
When is the best time to have insulin released? When does our body have the most nutritional requirements, for instance repair and growth? (That was kind of a big hint)
Right after you train!
When you have hit the weights hard and left it all on the floor, this is when your body is ready, willing and able to use those simple sugars and amino acids (broken down protein) and get the repair process started. Insulin is now doing great things, it is shuttling nutrients into willing cells and making you better – sweet!
In fact it is a terrible idea to neglect post-training nutrition. You must provide the body the mortar to build the bricks, and the most convenient way to get that done is a post-training shake (partially pre-digested and fast acting) immediately after training. This is Prime Time. But you also need to follow that up with a meal within a couple hours, and this is where you want to have the majority of your non-fruit and vegetable carbohydrates (other carbs) for the day, even if you train in the afternoon or evening. If you want a few great ideas for post-training carbohydrates,ThePPWKitchen will hook you up.
A look at the other side
Insulin has a “dark side” as well. This important hormone, you remember, is really good at storing things.
Like all those ho-ho’s you ate, right on your hips.
You see when you overload your body with too much food, especially easy to digest food like the simple carbs we talked about, your body needs to do something with it. If it doesn’t need to burn it, it does the next logical thing.
It stores it. (You know, the ho-ho thing)
That is why in general it is best to avoid simple carbohydrates during periods of low activity (like the pint of Ben and Jerry’s right before bed).
The Take Home
Carbs are not your enemy. However we can be smarter about when we eat our simple carbs. It’s not a matter of never eating starch and sugar, just save them for the meal you eat directly after you train.
And that is how you earn your checkbox. On the days you don’t train, keep the carbohydrate sources to veggies and fruits. On the days you do, eat the carbs you like at your next meal (within a couple hours).
And don’t forget the 90% rule. We are not looking for perfection. If you have a special event or party, plan out your strategy. Is this going to be a planned splurge? Then enjoy with some moderation and get back at it your very next meal.
That not restrictive, it’s realistic. If you want to be something different you have to do something different.
Here are two more terrific articles (with picture, charts, animations and everything) to catch you up on all things carbohydrate.
All About Carbohydrates
All About Insulin
Keep this in mind as well. We all handle carbohydrates a little differently. You may get away with a little more “other carbs” than your neighbor. Don’t get cranked up about never eating your favorite foods again. Just embrace the opportunity to discover different foods and different flavors. Nobody said change was easy, but I am proud of anyone who makes an effort.