Saturday, May 28, 2011

Everything you need to know about carbohydrates

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1. They are the body's primal energy source (along with fats). That's why they are essential in breakfast and before/after training. They provide four calories per gram.

2. They cause the secretion of insulin. This hormone is the transport of nutrients (protein and glucose) to the muscles - and to adipose tissue.

3. They also cause water retention in muscle. As a result, a drastic cut of their ingestion will lead to fluid loss.

4. There are two ways to divide them:
a1. Simple (sugar, honey, fruit, white flour products)
a2. Complex (whole-grain products, grains, oats, rice, pasta, potatoes, vegetables, legumes)
b1. Slow-digesting (yams, wild rice, beans, fruit, pasta)
b2. Fast-digesting (white bread, white rice, mashed potatoes, cereals, juices).

5. Simple and fast carbs release more insulin. However, the speed of digestion can be reduced by combining them with fiber, fat, or protein. Raw, whole, solid, and cold carbs are slower, too.

6. They get stored in muscles as glycogen (which is the most important energy source for the muscles, and is 75% water). This makes muscles look fuller.

7. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, but it poses two threats: it increases appetite and encourages fat storage. It might also nourish cancer tumours.

8. When there is a shortage of carbs, the body is forced to use fat for energy. Fat burning byproducts are called ketones, and in extreme situations, this state is called ketosis. Even then though, the body is able to create the glucose it needs by itself.

9. They take part in the fat burning process, which is called Krebs Cycle.

10. When carbs are low (and thus less glycogen is stored), protein must go up. The body will convert nitrogen to glucose. Simultaneously, more fat gets utilized for energy.

11. Some supplements that help carbs to get stored as glycogen (in muscles) and not as fat are: chromium, a-lipoic acid, omega-3 fatty acids. The best way to do it though is to consume carbs right after strenuous muscle activity.

12. A sharp spike of insulin levels (from simple carbs) along with the subsequent sharp reduction of blood glucose might cause a feeling of weakness.

Armed with this knowledge, you will be in a better position to understand why a low-carb diet will help you lose fat. Good luck!

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