Wednesday, 16 May 2012


A bit of a buzz word at the moment.  I hear a lot of people talking about a low carb diet.  To me, a low carb diet is a dangerous diet.  

Let me give you some facts:

Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.  It is the body's preferred energy source and the only fuel that your central nervous system can use - your brain only uses glucose for energy.  Therefore a diet low in carbohydrates is going to leave you feeling lethargic and fuzzy-headed.  Not a good nutrition plan for someone who wants to feel more energised and active!

Carbohydrates come in a variety of forms.  There are the starchy carbs: potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and cereals and there are fibrous carbs: fruits and vegetables other than potatoes.  The bottom of the food pyramid shows your diet should consist of 60% carbohydrates - what it doesn't normally show is that you can just as easily get your 60% from fruits and vegetables as you can from pasta, bread, potatoes, rice and cereals.

The thing about carbs is that as soon as they mix with your saliva, they are beginning to be broken down into glucose; it's pretty instant. The starchy carbs break down quickly and easily and the glucose is released into the bloodstream rapidly.  This is why, when you are hungry, you reach for the mountains of toast because you get an almost instant sugar hit from it!  This is why people like a mountain of pasta or mashed potatoes.  Instant sugar hit.

The trouble with an instant sugar hit is that it leaves your body just as quickly and you are left feeling low and sluggish.  Ever felt like you need a snooze after a big bowl of pasta or all those roast potatoes and Yorkshire puds at Sunday lunch?

The other thing is that  if you are looking to burn fat and you have huge stores of glycogen from eating starchy carbs, you are never going to get through those energy stores and start burning fat, the body's secondary fuel source.  If you want to burn fat, you need to get through those glycogen stores quickly and into the fat stores.  So stocking up on starchy carbs, that don't get burnt off, just means full glycogen stores and a spillover of what isn't used into your fat stores.

The good news is that fibrous carbs, like carrots, broccoli, cucumber, celery, peppers, courgettes, apples, bananas, pears, peaches, plums etc take much longer to digest.  In actual fact, the fibre is indigestible so it goes straight through you, cleaning your insides as it goes.  But this takes much longer to happen than with the starchy carbs, so you feel fuller for longer!  And you dont get the sugar highs and dips that you do with the starchy carbs.  And you are far less likely to overeat carbs and therefore they are not going to get stored as fat.

So my advice is this.  Cut anything with flour altogether, (that's bread, cakes, pies and pasta) - empty calories that are generally mixed with all sorts of other nasties.  And limit your intake of rice, potatoes and cereals to early in your day and make sure you keep the skins on your potatoes so you keep the fibre and that you choose brown rice and if you are tempted by flour...wholegrain pasta and bread.

Make sure that you are still getting 60% of your nutrition from carbohydrates, just make sure that rather than being predominately starchy carbs, you opt for the fibrous carbs that keep you fuller for longer!

One other little point, that you'll thank me for.  If you are not used to eating so much fibrous veg, you must remember to up your water intake.  If not, you may find yourself a little more bloated and...windy than normal.

So, do not fall into the trap of half-understanding a 'diet' (remember K-Loss don't do diets!) and following a low carb nutrition plan.  That will lead to failure as it is completely unsustainable.  You need a HIGH carb diet, just opt for the right kinds of carbs.

1 comment:

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