Lately, carbohydrates gained a bad opinion, together with insulin they represent a total dark side, which no one wants to join. However, lipid Jedi’s excel:). All of a sudden my friends cut their carbs to 50g, go on paleo, high fat diet, IF, ketosis, and instead of oatmeal, groats and rice, they eat a lot of vegetables, coconut oil, pork, which returned… which is good. They don’t throw away yolk, and eat it while munching on avocado and drinking bulletproof coffee;). All this is definitely okay, I’m not trying to discourage it. I have friends who are constantly on ketosis (but higher than 50g carbs) and they feel great, they work out and look good. Is it possible? Yes... BUT seriously, if you have a lot of knowledge in this field, as it needs a very meticulous approach to keep good proportions on macro nutritious ingredients (at the bottom of the article you can find a link to a nice article about ketosis). Wrongly balanced low carb diet can be very harmful.
There came an era of carbohydratephobia. Just as there used to be fatphobia;). Obviously a low carb diet has its benefits. It will be perfect for a lot of people, for example people with immunological diseases, insulin resistance, diabetes etc. I will add that the body doesn’t really need carbohydrates from the diet, as it can make the necessary amount for the brain and boost the rest of the processes with ketones and other side products of burning fat. Even our ancestors somehow survived without them, eating fruits and vegetables from time to time;). However, is that diet going to be reliable in every case? In my opinion – no. Unfortunately, I noticed that a lot of people misunderstood the idea of high fat and elimination of carbs, they go extreme and manoeuvre the health dangerously. Do you have to go to that low carb, and if yes, for how long? I also think that you shouldn’t. Everything depends on our carbohydrate tolerance, which is different for everyone. Tolerance depends on our life style, which includes diet and exercise (frequency of exercise). There are also different sports – a lot of them are glucose-dependent. A body builder and a marathoner will have a different supply of carbs. Unfortunately, you can’t always get glucose from oxidation of fatty acids, especially with low glycogen levels. My acquaintance, a cross-fit trainer, didn’t finish the paleo low carb with his endurance training, which is why he added carbohydrates around training times, just as Samurai principles;) (btw, it’s a really nice diet – just quickly answering a common question about which diet is the best). Also, the lower the amount of fat tissue, the more important it is to change the proportions of carbohydrates and fats, especially when there’s additional exercise involved. On the other hand, don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to get anyone to go on a glycaemic diet (a lot of carbs at stable hours, with low IG and a lot of fibre), very popular throughout old bodybuilding school. In my humble opinion, everyone needs to find the golden remedy for themselves.
After this introduction, you’re probably wondering how many carbs I eat and when? I can say confidently, that my diet is low/medium-carbohydrate, on a 120g level. It’s hard to tell how much is low, but my menu is definitely lower in carbs than traditional food pyramid shows XD. In addition to that, I pay special attention to the quality of carbohydrates, not the quantity. I also eat gluten-free, which you may know from THIS article. I avoid processed foods, cereal and sugar in many forms. At some point, the amount of carbohydrates in my diet was higher, but with time, the proportions have changed in favour of fats that I didn’t appreciate before;). However, I never went below 100g of carbohydrates, as that diet is not for me; that’s how much I know my body, and I know that I’m not able to function properly then. My body doesn’t want to switch to taking energy just from fats; even after a few weeks, and I’m not prepared to go to a work-out like a zombie; I love training and training hard. So, I am all in favour of consumption of carbohydrates, especially around training time, not necessarily with every meal. I am on a kind of a BT diet with intake of carbohydrates in form of starch/rice/groats before and after a training session (and often in a later meal as well). However, my first meal is usually also my before-training meal, which I eat around 1 hour after waking up. I know that a lot of people promotes BT breakfast due to insulin and cortisol; I also sometimes make them, but usually on rest days, or when the meal is not directly before a workout. You could even say, that Mariusz and I are fasting on the weekend, since we sleep until 1 PM XD. However, on work-out days, I need to “add a bit of carbs” to the meal before, otherwise I don’t have the strength to lift weights. I also don’t want to pressure myself into thinking that, oh my god, this has carbs – I can’t eat this in the morning, because my insulin and cortisol will fly up. Just thinking about it is stressful. I eat healthy (definitely healthier than most people – I realise that), I control a lot of things, I work out, I build muscles, I can’t take away all of the pleasures in life, especially when I have more energy during the day when I eat fruits and 20-30g of other carbs; I never feel sleepy or hungry after this. I don’t have hunger attacks before bed and I don’t count minutes until the next meal, even though I love to eat.
Now I will move onto the main topic – should we add carbohydrates in 4-5 meals a day?
Again – depends on the individual.
Sometimes, the best starting strategy when we don’t know our body, is to distribute carbohydrates evenly throughout the day. It’s quite beneficial, as we stabilise the amount of energy during the day, as well as appetite and mood. It’s often a good solution for people on reduction diet or people starting off their journey with strength training. However, with unstable sugar levels you shouldn’t eat more than 50g of carbs per meal. And of course, this diet won’t be good for people with insulin resistance.
- THE BEST TIME TO EAT CARBS:
We should focus on the fact that the less insulin bursts we have during the day, the better for our metabolic health and our mood.
Insulin is the strongest anabolic hormone, which is important for those who are building as well as those on a reduction diet. It’s strongly affecting the muscles at one time – AFTER THE WORKOUT. Insulin activates GLUT4 proteins, which transport glucose to muscle cells. This is why it’s better to take quickly-digestible and simple carbs before training, which will cause a quick insulin burst. Thanks to that, we will use the carbohydrates as energy (instead of fat) and we have better regeneration.
It’s important to eat carbohydrates around training, so-called carb-targeting. It’s recommended to use them before (sometimes during) and after training, in quantities of around 70%. The rest – previously it was recommended to eat for breakfast. Now we know, however, that it’s not beneficial due to diurnal insulin cycle. In the morning, after waking up, there is a big reaction from insulin and we have a high level of cortisol. This is why it’s said that instead of for breakfast, it’s good to eat carbs for lunch after workout, or for dinner.
Carbohydrates before bed improve sleep and regeneration, which benefits our progress. Remember what I wrote about the meaning of SLEEP while working out? In addition to that, new studies show that it’s easier to lose the fat tissue, which is why it’s common for body builders to charge up in the evening;). It works best with BT breakfast;). I should also mention carb backloading, but today I will just say that it’s one of the good and popular way to consume carbs.
- THE BEST SOURCES OF CARBOHYDRATES
Of course, you should be aware that there are different types of carbohydrates. The processed ones should be excluded from our diet, or at least limited to the absolute minimum. Especially when it comes to sugar (what the healthy replacements are you’ll be able to read HERE). For some, grain may also be problematic.
Glucose is essential. It’s a simple sugar (monosaccharide), which is a source of energy (mainly for the brain) and is a precursor of chemical compounds that play an important role related to the body’s immune system. As a source of energy, glucose goes before fat, which might be why the body created a way to make it out of proteins. This means, that it’s not exactly essential for our health, but it’s definitely very important if evolution made it so we can create it. It’s important in transformation of thyroid hormones T4 to T3, sensitivity to insulin and lepton, making of serotonin or production of mucus.
In addition to that, another interesting fact, as opposed to typically carnivorous animals, humans create an enzyme called amylase, which is used to digest starch (long-chain polymers formed from glucose molecules into smaller ones, which are able to get into the blood system).
Fructose – even though it’s carbohydrates with low IG, it shouldn’t be consumed in high amounts. It’s mainly recommended for people that are active after a workout. But, you should also be careful, as glucose restores glycogen muscles. Fructose, however, is mainly responsible for filling hepatic glycogen, which is difficult to flush out after training. When its storage is filled to the max, fructose transforms it into fat:/. It’s therefore worth looking out for their quantity, and best to add it to your menu after a workout. It’s enough to have it in maximum of one or two meals. It’s also worth consuming fruits that have glucose, such as: bananas, blueberries, cherries, grapes. Vegetables also contain glucose, such as: pumpkin, beetroot, sweet potatoes and chestnuts have them.
Interesting fact – pineapples contain bromelain, which supports digestion of meats.
Starch – even though it seems bad for most people (unnecessarily), it’s quite an important source for our intestine bacteria – so we should include it in our diet without a problem, as long as we don’t have any intestine problems. It’s worth looking at: sweet potatoes, potatoes, tapioca.
Fibre – we’re not able to digest fibre, but it has a lot of beneficial properties, such as improvement of bowel function, stabilize blood sugar and reduce constipation. The problem with fibre is that, not every fibre is made in the same way. Fibre from grain includes gluten and lectin, which can damage the intestinal mucosa. Other than that, fibre is necessary, but even though it can increase the count of the good bacteria, it can also “feed” the pathogenic bacteria. The best fibre is the one from vegetables and fruits.
Apart from that: white rice, basmati / cereal / quinoa / amaranth.
Is it easier to reduce weight with that amount of carbs?
If you have a deficit, then you will lose weight. On a low carb diet – you can gain weight; there is always a limit of needs that can be crossed;).
If it comes to weight reduction; using short, low carb reduction diet may give really nice results, but it’s easy to get the yoyo effect after finishing it. After a few weeks of such restriction, our body stops producing the right enzymes to digest them, so once we increase the amount of carbs there is a weight gain and problems with digestion. It’s a short term state, however it’s not a good feeling. More often than not, if someone uses it for too long, it can become destructive, especially in women!! And the lower the amount of fat tissue, the better it is to think through new diet ideas, as a low glucose intake may be dangerous.
What could be the negative effects of low carbs supply:
Recently, the subject of carbohydrates interested me a lot, and according to many sources, including my friends (true story!!!!), as well as reader’s emails, I noticed that a lot of women that have problems with hormones, stress or are working out a lot, going below 100g is problematic. I won’t try to convince anyone that it’s true, but I would like to mention this matter.
A diet below 50g of carbohydrates, especially for women, can be destructive. Especially when you include a calorie restriction of around 1500kcal (reduction), and the person isn’t overweight, and the tissue level is normal or lower. Om addition to that, you have stress every day, workout, lack of nutritious substances, which can cause weight fluctuations, a liver that’s worked up from gluconeogenesis, problems with thyroid and metabolism, abnormal cycle or even lack of menstruation, acne, weak hair, tired adrenal glands, sleep disorders and perpetually bad mood and lack of energy.
- There are thyroid disorders, beginning to appear pretty often, which includes light hypothyroidism, its symptoms include hair loss, fatigue, digestive problems. The amount of T3 decreases (as in the low-calorie diet) / rt3 increases - typical defence mechanism that turns on in stressful situations. Rising cortisol. Unfortunately, increasing the protein and fat calories will not help. This is why people with hypothyroidism should consume> 200g carbohydrates and reduce fat. Unfortunately IF, ketosis or reduction diet are some of the biggest enemies of the thyroid gland. This important body part is susceptible to any, even the smallest changes in diet or lifestyle. The following two pieces of evidence that carbohydrates are essential to the working-thyroid. Here the fat has been replaced by carbohydrates and increased T3, rT3 decreased http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC371281/
Here, the influence of the ketogenic diet for thyroid hormones. It showed a decrease in T3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6761185
- Insufficient supply of carbohydrates, together with the weakening of the thyroid gland often leads to a lack of period. When we raised levels of insulin after ingestion of glucose, there is a temporary increase in leptin, which signals the pituitary gland, the body is being fed, enabling the production of hormones. Unfortunately, at the moment of stress - as I wrote multiple times – body uses all its energy to fight the stress; pushes “fertility” issues into the background. For this deficiency of glucose there is a problem mentioned in the first point; problems with the conversion of T4 to T3, which contributes to the poor operation of the ovaries. Without T3 oestrogen cannot be produced and thus the period does not occur.
- Excessive production of uric acid,
- Dehydration and loss of electrolytes,
- Excess of oxalate in the kidneys due to improper disposal of vitamin C,
- Tiredness, lack of energy or poor regeneration.
Approaching the topic reasonably: maybe it’s better to eat this 2g/kg of carbs and not go extreme. Why should you count/weight vegetables (without starch), when I know that people on the diets mentioned do it? I think that a lot of things can be eaten without limits. In addition to that, going below 100-150g of carbs daily for a long period of time significantly changing our intestinal microbiota / starving our intestinal flora. We need not just probiotics, but also prebiotics (meaning for example tapioca, chicory, pumpkin, artichokes, and leeks).
In addition to that, eating a meal made of carbohydrates, it increases the insulin levels, that’s true, but in the process of digesting them, it produces tryptophan, which is responsible for good mood;). Also, glycogen replenishment results in peace of mind because our brain gets info about the stability of energy reserves;).
A lot of supporters of a low carb diet uses arguments, that carbohydrates cause a lot of civilization diseases. Of course they can, but it’s important to note that often it’s not the quantity, but the quality of carbohydrates that harms us.
In summary (God, I’m sorry for the long post), I’m not negating all of the low carb diets, keto, paleo, etc., but it’s important that when someone decides to do them, they do it with head, with information about this subject, awareness of the risks or under the supervision of a person who knows more about it. Probably widespread problems with low-carb diets, which you write about to me or I’m watching, so I am writing this text using tiny fellow doctor-nutritionist, Marta <3, are the results of the fact that they are not used properly, which stems from ignorance and peoples laziness. Julia has said it pretty well in this, previously mentioned, article about ketosis: http://www.bodymania.pl/odzywianie/ketoza-fakty-i-mity
I don’t want to encourage/discourage anyone from any of those diets. I myself am interested in most of them, and I also experiment;). Now, depending on our goal, DT/DNT, the degree of physical effort, work, time of training, manoeuvring your macro, holding certain assumptions / kcal, but do not do it with some huge pressure, I listen to my body. I absolutely do not encourage “energetic breakfasts” and “protein dinner”, or the other way around;). I’m also not saying that neither of them are right. I know people working out with different diets, very extreme, significantly different from each other, but still reaching the same great effects, and most importantly they’re all healthy. The thing that I want to highlight with this article is that, it’s important not to make the diet an ideology;). Not to fixate yourself on just one, but try them out. Sometimes it’s good to open yourself up to alternative solutions, as it might turn out that they carry valuable benefits, so far undetectable. Also, dietary modifications and should influence individual factors, not the prevailing fashion;). Of course, except for diet imposed by a disease.
I’m curious about how you go about your “diet” and what your observations are.
And, my current figure XD I’m starting to miss my outlined shoulders:>