Over the past couple of years, health and fitness has gained widespread appeal by the general public as we are becoming aware of the adverse effects of sugary foods and saturated fats , often one of the largest stumbling blocks on a person’s journey towards a healthier lifestyle is a lack of knowledge. Once a better understanding of the effects of proper food consumption are assimilated, only then do we realize that fad diets are ineffective and the road to a lean fit body is largely determined (about 70%) by smart nutrition. Having started my fitness journey at 15 I like to think I know a thing or two about nutrition and training. The following article addresses carbohydrates, an often debated topic among the health fanatics.

IMG_9337

A recent study confirms that eating a low-carb diet could help people lose more weight and cut heart risks better than a low-fat diet. However, many people feel this choice of nutrition is not maintainable as some adverse effects like both mental and physical fatigue are encountered, but before you completely write them off, keep in mind that our bodies couldn’t live without carbohydrates. They’re essential fuel for both our bodies and brains, especially when participating in any kind of physical activity. Our bodies also need carbs to regulate mood and to keep our intestinal movements regular. Plus, keep in mind that not all carbs are created equal. In fact, even on food labels, you’ll see the total number of carbohydrates in a packaged food is broken down into various types, usually sugars and fiber.

Nike_Dri-Fit_Wool_Ashton_Eaton_1_large

Fiber is the good stuff: Often stripped from processed grains like white bread and white rice, it can help keep you full, lower cholesterol, prevent heart attacks and much, much more. Without fiber, refined grains lead to blood sugar spikes which creates cravings. These foods are considered high GI, and acronym for glycemic index. A foods glycemic index is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose, also called blood sugar level. The number typically ranges between 50 and 100.

beautiful-man-and-women-fitness-widescreen-high-definition-desktop-wallpaper-background-pictures-free

You’ll want to watch out for sugar, but particularly added sugar. Fruits, some vegetables and even dairy products will contain some natural sugar, which is included in a food’s total grams of sugar. To get a sense of how much added sugar is in a food, scan the ingredients labels, and stay away from anything with white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate or other names for added sugar among the first few listed ingredients.

Good Carbs and Weight

An article published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in May 2011 states that, compared to those who eat mainly refined grains, people who eat more whole grains tend to weigh less and may be less likely to carry fat around their stomach, which is the most unhealthy type of fat. High- fiber foods decrease the absorption of macronutrients, such as fat and carbohydrates, so you don’t absorb as many calories from your food, according to a March 2005 article in “Nutrition.” This may help you maintain your weight or lose weight. Examples of low GI carbs include rolled oats, brown rice, sweet potato and rye bread.

The Fullness Factor

Pair your carbohydrates with protein, because protein is more filling than carbohydrates and fat. Effective sources of protein include chicken breasts, tuna/hake, lean beef, ostrich and eggs, all of which are economical. Good carbs are more filling than bad carbs because they are lower in energy density and higher in fiber. Foods that are low in energy density don’t have many calories per gram, allowing you to eat a greater volume of food while still staying within your calories for the day. It is the volume of food you eat that causes you to feel full, not the amount of calories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High- fiber foods are filling because they add bulk to your diet and slow the emptying of your stomach.

nike_crsl2_130813

Proper Proportions and Timing

Eating more protein and less carbohydrates may help you improve your cholesterol levels and maintain your muscle mass during weight loss, according to a study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in February 2003. Study participants who ate 1.4 times as many carbohydrates as protein lost a higher proportion of body fat compared to participants who got the same amount of calories from a diet with 3.5 times as many carbohydrates as protein. You may also be better off eating most of your carbohydrates at dinner rather than spreading them more equally throughout the day, according to a study published in “Obesity” in October 2011. Eating this way helped people feel fuller, improve cholesterol and blood glucose levels and experience greater losses in both body fat and weight. Everyone’s body is different so test each method to determine which responds best to your body type. One fact that cannot be over emphasized is the type of carb remains the top priority in the pursuit of weight loss.

Increasing Health Benefits

Replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates (bad carbs) may actually increase your heart disease risk, but replacing this bad fat with good carbs may decrease your risk, according to an article published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in June 2010. Just as the type of carbohydrates chosen is important if you want to improve your heart health, so is the type of protein. As mentioned before sticking to lean protein options will control overall calorie consumption, keep you fuller for longer and more energized.

Written by : Nick Dunn :  Model , Entrepreneur and The Threaded Man fitness and health expert.