I am putting together a series of shared posts designed to give you the facts about Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. You will want to read all 3 of these shared posts if you are like most people who have a difficult time sifting through all of the propaganda, misinformation and tall tales surrounding Macronutrients. This series is titled "Simply Science - The Truth About...(Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats) and will provide you the definition, functions, sources, myths and truths about these vital nutrients. This post will first deal with Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate (definition): neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (such as sugars, starches and celluloses) which make a large portion of animal foods (NASM, 2008).
Carbohydrates (function): the chief form of energy for all body functions and muscular exertion. They also help to regulate digestion and utilization of protein and fat (NASM, 2008).
The first thing I need to say about Carbohydrates is that they are not inherently good or bad. They are neutral compounds, and your body needs them as its primary energy source. As it relates to weight loss we know that we have to burn more calories than we take in. Therefore we have to have carbohydrates available as our energy source so that we feel able to participate in daily activities which should include exercise. In fact for most adults Carbohydrates should make up 50-70% of their total caloric intake. When a person falls below these levels it is only a matter of time until they are uninterested in participating in daily activity and unsatisfied with what they eat, even when they feel full.
The function of Carbohydrates above explains that they help us to regulate digestion. This is a key concept to understand why we can feel satisfied with what we eat even when we are at a calorie deficit. When we consume food our body begins to break it down. Food that is easily broken down will not keep us feeling full for very long, this leads us to want to eat more because we are not satisfied. On the other hand food that takes longer to breakdown, like complex carbohydrates leave us feeling satisfied for longer periods of time because it provides bulk to what we eat. If we feel satisfied with what we eat for longer period of time. A sustained calorie deficit is what leads to long term permanent weight loss.
O.K. now that we have straightened all of that out. Let's look at the sources, myths and truths about carbohydrates.
Sources of complex carbohydrates might include things like oatmeal, broccoli, brown rice, strawberries, lentils, many beans, whole breads, ect...If you would like a more comprehensive list simply Google term "complex carbohydrate food list".
Alright now let's get to the myths and truths about carbohydrates:
1. Carbohydrates make me fat!
This is simply not true. There is no carbohydrate food that immediately turns into fat as soon as your body consumes it. Taking in more calories (energy) than you burn is what makes you fat, period, end of story!
1. I can do without Carbohydrates.
This is absolutely not true, in fact it is downright silly. Here is what will happen if you choose not to eat adequate carbohydrates. You will likely lose weight in the beginning, partly because your overall calorie intake will go down and partly because you will lose muscle and water. You will also begin to experience significant loss of energy and strength. In the beginning your "will power" will help you to fight through this, but ultimately your body's energy needs will win out and your body's cravings for the nutrients it absolutely needs will win out. You will reintroduce carbohydrates back into your diet in a big way, therefore increasing your calorie intake and you will regain the weight.
The lesson here is simple, don't kid yourself, no one is super human. We are all made of the same elements. Give your body what it needs to operate efficiently and it will reward you by burning more calories fast.
I hope this helps!
Jason Chiero, CPT
Published On: September 21, 2010