CARBS!!!! It’s all about who has the most carbohydrates in the IIFYM world, but why? Well if you ask someone who doesn’t understand their proper function within the diet, they’ll say because they get to eat donuts, but that’s not really why we try to get towards that high carb goal. We use carbs to create insulin sensitivity to help build lean muscle. The ratios are incredibly tricky and please know that all carbs ARE NOT created equal. You cannot and will not maintain overall health by eating garbage processed & refined carbs only. We don’t care how nicely they “fit into your macros”.
We will go over the carbohydrate basics today and talk briefly about how we find a general starting point for carbs, why we need them, how too much can be dangerous, and then we will go over the difference between Earth Grown Nutrient carbs and refined cards and why the latter is not ideal as the base of our overall intake.
How do we choose carb quantities for clients:
As mentioned in our Protein and Fat blogs, we use a variety of factors to first determine protein and fat ratios, and then the remaining calories are converted to the appropriate ratios of carbohydrates. We will alter these numbers based on the specific client’s body composition and of course their goals. *We also manipulate carb intake more often for our weight class athletes, as carb intake is directly related to water storage in muscles so we can help them shed some extra weight when the time comes.
Why do we need carbs in our diet:
Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred and main energy source. Let’s compare our two energy sources, fat and carbs, in an easy to understand analogy. If you were to make a fire, you could use either wood or paper as your fuel source. Wood (fat in this example) is a fantastic, long lasting fuel source, but it takes longer to ignite than the paper (carbs). If you are exercising and need bursts of energy, like weightlifting for example, you will want the quick igniting carbs as your fuel source. If you plan to have a more sedentary day, or your exercise does not need a super quick burning fuel source, then you will want to rely on fats as your fuel. *Here at FFF, we take care of deciding which days and times to consume these specific macros, so let us know if you’re not sure and need some help with this!
It is important to note that carbs that are not used for immediate energy are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for later use. If, however, your activity level is not demanding enough to tap into these stores, then the leftovers are stored as body fat. This leads to our next topic…
Risks of weight gain with too many carbs in your diet:
Once our liver and muscles are full of glycogen, any unused glucose is left in the bloodstream and stored as fat. This is why a high carb diet has a bad reputation – it’s all about the correct ratios, which is when our Macro Programs come in handy. We reference this in our fat blog, and we highly recommend taking another look at it!
As we stated, we use carbohydrates within our program to manipulate insulin sensitivity. What we mean by this, in very simple terms, is that we want your body to be sensitive to insulin so that it properly signals the glucose in your blood to be used as energy, and then the remaining glucose to be stored as glycogen in your muscles so that the muscles will utilize it properly as fuel. If you are insulin resistant, your body does not store glucose properly and it leads to fat storage (as previously mentioned) or even Type 2 Diabetes.
If we have a client who is lean, then we can make the outwardly assumption that their body is insulin sensitive, and therefore they will have higher carbs because their muscles are storing the glucose as glycogen and using it for energy properly. If we have a client who still has some fat to lose, then we start with lower carbs because again, we can make the assumption that their body may be more resistant to insulin and is storing the extra glucose as fat. This is how we can experiment with different macro ratios to see what works. If we have an inkling that there is some hyper or hypo glycemia, or perhaps another underlying hormonal issue, we always recommend that our clients use our MyDiet Program so they can work with our Registered Dietitian who can analyze blood work, etc.
High Glycemic vs. Low Glycemic:
The Glycemic Index is used to help us determine how the foods we are eating will affect our blood sugar levels. It is based on a scale from 1-100, 100 being high glycemic, or very rapidly absorbed, causing that insulin spike. At FFF, we use a general format of higher glycemic carbs around workouts, lower glycemic outside of workouts and on rest days. Below are some examples of carbs, both Earth Grown Nutrient and refined sources, with their index rating.
Earth Grown Nutrient vs. Refined Carbs
Earth Grown Nutrient foods provide micro nutrients that are not found in refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs often have ingredients that we should not be ingesting to begin with, and some of those include the pesky trans fats we mentioned in our previous blog. Refined carbs should be used in moderation, and if we were to recommend them, it would be around a workout only in an effort to spike insulin levels to signal that we now need glucose to do its job by providing us with energy.
If you do not count macros and consume only refined/processed carbs, then you are in trouble and you will probably notice that you have some extra body fat to shed. If you do count macros and only consume refined/processed carbs, then you’re also in trouble. You may be “shredded” but what’s happening on the inside?? You need micro-nutrients from fruits, veggies, and whole grains to function properly at the cellular level, plain and simple (and no, supplements aren’t the answer unless your blood work says otherwise.) Not to mention that Earth Grown Nutrient carb sources are often our sources of fiber!
This is not just about body composition with us, it is about your health. We highly recommend that the base of your carb intake be from Earth Grown Nutrients, and below are some of our staples. *Also note that we love to recommend eating fruits and veggies that are in season so you know that you are soaking up all of the fresh nutrient goodness that they have to offer!
- Bell peppers
- Oat bran
- Steel cut oats
- Ezekiel/sprouted grain bread
- Beans (not a grain, but we wanted to keep them in the mix!)
If you are going to take anything away from this post, we hope it is that carbs are not created equal and the ratios need to be properly managed and cycled. It was our intention that all three of our combined blogs on Protein, Fat and Carbs will give you a deeper understanding of their use within a diet and how important the sources really are!