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Ditch the Carbs. Responsibly
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Ditch the Carbs. Responsibly

Ditched donuts on the street

This article is for those who believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and are actually eager to get slimmer.

If you can have a tea with two sugars in the morning and stay fit without killing yourself in a gym, then you don’t need to read any further.

The term carbs in this article does not refer to dietary fiber, which is a type of carb. Dietary fiber is essential to consume and doesn’t affect insulin levels.

The human body is not like a car in terms of burning fuel (calories). Calculating calories in order to stay fit doesn’t usually work. Unlike a car, the body has many options to choose from to get the energy it needs. It can burn fat, it can burn carbs, it can burn proteins. It can burn carbs you’ve just eaten or it can burn stored carbs; the same goes for fat as well. The body can burn proteins from your shake or it can burn muscle tissue. It all depends. The truth is, getting the same amount of calories from a different source and at different times can separate fit from fat. Even if someone doesn’t engage in any physical activity. If your goal is to get fit without losing muscles while maintaining decent energy levels, you must take a closer look at hormones. 

Insulin Spike. Why having a good breakfast is not always good.

Insulin is a hormone that is secreted in response to high blood sugar levels. Food Glycemic Index (GI) indicates how a particular food contributes to blood sugar levels once consumed. Roughly speaking, the higher the GI, the bigger the insulin spike. Foods of a GI over 55 are considered to produce an unhealthy insulin spike. A high-protein meal can also produce the same effect.

What happens when you have cereal (most of the brands)  or granola (most of the brands) for breakfast? Most of the non-homemade cereal and granola have added sugars in them. Due to the high Glycemic Index, they rapidly increase blood sugar levels and produce an insulin spike. The insulin spike, in turn, shuts down fat burning for many hours. At the same time excess sugar in the blood, if not combined with intense exercise, is stored as fat. What happens next? Once the sugar to fat conversion is complete, it often “overshoots”, dipping blood sugar to low levels. The body still needs energy to function, especially if at this time it’s engaged in intense physical activity. Where can it receive the energy from? Fat storage is not an option for energy, because the insulin spike had already shut fat burning down for quite a while. The carbs supply is over, unless you have a second breakfast soon after the first one. Oftentimes, all that remains is protein from muscle tissue. So in a nutshell, in extreme cases sugars in the morning build fat and burn muscle. Quite the opposite of what most of us want.

When is insulin spike a good thing? After an intense resistance training, like TRX. But it has to be really intense, the muscles have to burn in order to benefit from it. What is the benefit? After an intense resistance training, an insulin spike “opens” the muscles to receive glucose. Glucose is stored in muscles in the form of glycogen. The more glycogen in the muscle, the bigger it is and easier it is to exercise. When do you want to exercise? As late as possible, to keep fat burning going. This is, of course, provided you didn’t provoke an insulin spike before the exercise. Dextrose is one of the best carbs to induce a good insulin spike. One of the sources of it is Pixy Stix.

If you want to benefit from eating “bad” carbs, consume them 30 minutes after intense resistance training. Do not spike insulin throughout the day before the training. On days you don’t train, avoid high GI carbs.

How to promote fat burning while keeping energy levels?

Try having breakfast at lunchtime. In the morning have a caffeinated beverage, instead. Coffee is fine but it often gives another spike, a caffeine spike. A caffeine spike usually causes nervousness and agitation and is followed by a caffeine “crash”, resulting in wanting another coffee. Slow release caffeine, like matcha provides, is better for fat burning and for a better mood. Another option is to stretch a coffee cup over a couple of hours. Both coffee and matcha are appetite suppressants, they will efficiently reduce carb cravings. You can add some extra virgin coconut oil. It is high in MCT which, in moderate quantities, promotes fat loss.

To summarize the suggested carb-conscious routine:
  1. No breakfast or a small low GI breakfast to keep insulin levels at bay.
  2. Slow-release caffeine until the time of exercise
  3. Fast carbs to spike insulin 30 min after exercise, late in the afternoon.
  4. If no exercise, then no over-55-GI  carbs. However if you don’t exercise at all, have a fast carb meal once in a while in the afternoon.

If you absolutely need breakfast consider this: fast oats have GI of 79, quinoa flakes have GI of 53. This makes a lot of difference when it comes to fat burning! Consider replacing rice (GI of 73) with Rightrice (GI of 51)

Why fructose is not as good as it sounds.

Fructose is a low GI sugar but there is a caveat. When the body receives carbs it can’t immediately burn down, it has to store them somewhere. There are two main storage facilities: the liver and the muscles. While glucose can be stored in both, fructose can only be stored in the liver. Therefore if liver storage is full, even if muscle storage is empty, fructose will not have any other option but to become fat. This fat, by the way, is a reason for fatty liver development that can promote type 2 diabetes.

Drink fruit juice responsibly

It is always best to get fructose from fresh fruits rather than juices. Even worse are sodas that have very little nutritional value. Fruit fiber will ensure gradual fructose release. Having a glass of juice, on the contrary, will overwhelm your system, putting an extra load on the liver.

Low GI Fruits (Raw)

  • Apple (36)
  • Orange (43)
  • Dates (42)
  • Mango (51-55)
  • Cherries (22)
  • Plum (24)
  • Grapefruit (25)
  • Apricot (23)
  • Peach (28)
  • Nectarines (30)
  • Strawberry (41)
  • Blueberries (54)
  • Pear (38)
  • Kiwi (54)

Average-High GI Fruits (Raw)

  • Cantaloupe (67)
  • Pineapple (66)
  • Watermelon (72)
  • Raisins (64)
  • Banana (55)
  • Guava (78)

Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load

Glycemic Index is measured by feeding a person a portion of food with 50 grams of digestible carbs and measuring its effect on blood sugar levels. It does not take into account a typical portion size.

Glycemic Load (GL) takes into account a typical serving size. For example, it will take approx. 22 oz of cantaloupe to supply 50 gram of carbs, which is quite an unusual serving. However, it takes only 2 oz of raisins to provide the same 50 grams of carbs.

Fruits Glycemic Load per 120 gram serving

  • Apple (6)
  • Orange (4)
  • Dates (36)
  • Mango (8)
  • Cherries (9)
  • Plum (5)
  • Grapefruit (3)
  • Apricot (3)
  • Peach (5)
  • Nectarines (4)
  • Strawberry (1)
  • Blueberries (5)
  • Pear (4)
  • Kiwi (7)
  • Cantaloupe (4)
  • Pineapple (6)
  • Watermelon (4)
  • Raisins (56)
  • Banana (11)
  • Guava (4)

Stay fit!

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