The Truth About Carbohydrates: Dispelling The Myths!

Carbs, carbs, carbs... Everyone seems to have a different philosophy when it comes to them. Which theory is the correct one to follow when trying to shed bodyfat?

Everyone seems to have a different philosophy when it comes to carbs. One school of thought will tell you to never eat them; another will say to limit them after 3 P.M., still others might tell you to eat them up until three hours before bedtime. But which theory is the correct one to follow when trying to shed bodyfat?

What Carbs Have A Bad Name

In truth, most of what you hear about carbs has a certain element of fact to it, but with all the recent hype, carbs have seemed to get a bad name, and furthermore are pinpointed as the big culprit for putting on bodyfat. But I'm here to tell you that you can eat carbohydrates in a much greater amount, and more often than you might have previously assumed.

Carbohydrates can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Simple
  2. Complex
  3. Fibrous

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are shorter chains of sugars, usually coming from food items with a noticeably "sweet" flavor. Candy, fruit and sports drinks are all examples of simple sugars.

They provide short term energy and are quickly broken down by the body. Hence they don't make you feel satiated for very long.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are longer chains of sugars predominantly coming from foods without such a noticeably sweet flavor, such as rice, bread, potatoes, oats, pasta, and things of that nature.

Fibrous Carbohydrates

Fibrous carbohydrates come predominantly from roughage such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli and and the skins of various vegetables and fruits, hence the term "fiber."

How Does Eating Carbs Affect The Body?

When you ingest carbohydrates, your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. Simple carbs (for the most part) cause a quick insulin spike, and then drop you rather quickly, hence you crave more carbs soonafter your insulin levels drop.

Complex carbohydrates cause a more gradual insulin spike. This allows you to feel fuller for a longer period of time, typically for the two to three hour duration between meals. Knowing the different types of carbs can help build the body you have always dreamed of.

Fibrous carbohydrates have a negligible effect on blood sugar levels, but act more as a "cleanser" for your intestinal tract, providing you with a much needed tool for pushing food through the system.

The Glycemic Index

We already know that eating carbohydrates causes a rise in insulin/blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is basically a system which measures the degree to which a certain food will spike insulin levels, and how quickly it will do so.

This means that 50g of carbohydrates found in one food might have more or less of an effect on blood sugar levels than 50g of carbohydrate coming from another food. So we see now that the quality of carbohydrate that one eats is much more important than the quantity.

For example, if we compare a low glycemic index carbohydrate such as a yam, with a high glycemic carb such as a donut, you could probably eat 2-3 yams, and not cause as dramatic an insulin spike as you would eating only one donut.

In fact, a lot of foods you might think cause a dramatic insulin spike (cherries for example), are in fact very low glycemic (a cherry has a lower glycemic index than a yam, and a yam is considered a staple bodybuilding food when trying to put on mass or lean down).

Whenever you are in debate of late night carbohydrate indulgence, just keep in mind the degree to which the carb you're going to eat will affect your blood sugar levels. This will determine whether or not your body stores fat.

So now the myth has been dispelled: not all carbs are bad, and some can be eaten in moderation at any time of the day. Choose your carbs wisely, and the fear of bodyfat storage will no longer haunt you.