In the first of Performance Pro’s insights into fitness nutrition, our team of specialists explode a few myths about carbohydrates.
Back in the 1970s, fat was blamed for the rising rate of obesity and heart disease. In more recent years, carbohydrates stepped up to take the full blame, with several authorities saying they should be avoided at all costs as the body has no use for them.
Now, blaming carbs for the rising rates of obesity and poor health is no better than blaming fat.
Ultimately, elevated levels of body fat have very little to do with what we eat, but rather how much we eat. Excessive body fat is simply a sign of calorie over consumption!
Although carbohydrates and fat are important macronutrients in the diet, the exact quantities will vary from person to person.
If you’re still concerned that carbohydrates are the root of all evil, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t neglect them from your nutrition.
1. Allows for body fat to be effectively used as fuel
– When you eat carbohydrate, it gets broken down into ‘pyruvate’
– Pyruvate ensure that levels of ‘oxaloacetate’ don’t drop
– Oxaloacetate ensures that fatty acids get used for energy
– This is where the term ‘fats burn in a carbohydrate flame’ comes from
When you eat a low carb diet, your levels of oxaloacetate fall, which means that you won’t be able to sufficiently burn body fat.
The presence of carbohydrates in the diet will ensure continued fat loss.
2. Carbohydrates boost levels of ‘Leptin’
Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling you that you are full and do not need to eat.
As body fat starts to lower, leptin levels also start to drop, which can result in a massive appetite and difficultly sticking to your nutrition plan.
Carbohydrates can help slow down the rate at which leptin levels drop, which ensures that your fat loss journey is not hampered by intense hunger cravings and misery!
3. Carbs are an important fuel source during training
Losing body fat requires a fairly high volume of training, which is only sustainable if you have the energy to do it.
Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel that will enable you to perform a high volume of quality training and therefore maximise your energy expenditure.
4. Carbs can help with sleep
Carbohydrate consumption has been associated with the release of the neurotransmitter ‘serotonin’, which can make you feel happy and relaxed.
Having high levels of serotonin can enable you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply through the night. So including carbohydrates with your evening meal can promote better sleeping patterns.
5. Carbs re-teach insulin sensitivity
Reducing carbohydrate prevents the pancreas from secreting so much insulin. To actually increase insulin sensitivity, the body needs to release insulin to ‘teach’ itself how much is required to appropriately lower blood sugar and transport glucose to muscle cells.
Staying clear of carbohydrates forever won’t allow the body to properly re-sensitise to insulin. This can be detrimental to long term fat loss.
About the Author: Will Davis MSc, BSc, CSCS
Will Davis has worked in the fitness industry for over 9 years and is a Strength and Conditioning Coach working with PerformancePro. Will is also a Poliquin International Certified Level 2 Coach, Biosignature Practitioner and a strong man competitor.