A carbohydrate is considered to be the most basic unit of energy for one’s body to ingest. In simple form, all carbohydrates are eventually broken down into glucose (simple sugar) molecules that are used to supply our muscle and tissues with energy to perform daily tasks and exercise. The question then becomes what types of carbohydrates should one be ingesting? The answer to this question is varied; however, 90% of the time complex carbohydrates should be the top choice for this particular macronutrient. A complex carbohydrate is such that the body has to work to eventually break it down into an energy supplying food. This is important because as long as one’s body is continually breaking down food it is having to work, and thus its blood sugar is going to be better stabilized and will be a consistent supply of energy.
Overall, carbohydrates should make up approximately 40-50% of an individual’s daily intake. Based on an 1800 calorie menu this would equate to 900 calories of carbohydrates; or rather, 225 grams. This number will increase by 12-15 grams per each additional 100 calories of caloric intake throughout the day.
What’s It Good For?
Carbohydrates (or starches) in its simplest form is used for immediate energy in the human body. There are various types of carbohydrate classifications, all of which play different roles in terms of energy in the body.
Monosaccharides (or simple sugars) are an important component of coenzymes necessary for energy production in the body. As well, they are the backbone of the genetic molecule commonly referred to as RNA which is a related deoxyribose component of an individual’s DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
Disaccharides (and polysaccharides, also known as complex carbohydrates) serve as the storage for energy in the form of starch and glycogen. As well, they act as structural components in common vegetables and plants. Saccharides and their derivatives include many other important biomolecules that play key roles in fertilization, blood clotting, development and immune systems as well.
Although carbohydrates are not necessary building blocks for other molecules, they still play the most dominant role in the production of immediate energy from the body. One could argue that all the necessary energy can be obtained from fats and proteins; however, the issue is that as the body requires different forms of energy for differing tasks it also requires differing forms of energy intake. It is for this reason that carbohydrates play a role when immediate energy is necessary.
One of the most dominant examples of a time when glucose may be immediately necessary is found in the fact that the brain (and neurons associated with the brain) are unable to utilize fat for energy and thus require glucose (or ketones). Humans can synthesize some glucose in the form of gluconeogenesis from specific amino acids as well as the triglyceride backbone found in some acids; however, this process is much less efficient and can lead to reduced brain activity short term.
When Do I Eat It?
Carbohydrates are essential throughout the day; however, the types and amounts of carbohydrates will vary based on the goals of the individual as well as the timing of the meal. Earlier in the day it is typically better to eat carbohydrates due to the fact that the body just experienced a prolonged period of fasting throughout the night and will need immediate energy to bring it out of a fasting state (hence, the term breakfast). As the day progresses there should be a balance of appropriate levels of complex and fibrous carbohydrates at each meal to allow for blood glucose stabilization; however, the role of fats and proteins will take dominance as a day goes on.
Before exercise it is essential that complex carbohydrates are ingested to ensure that energy is readily available to body tissue to perform accordingly. As well, immediately following exercise is an appropriate time to ingest simple carbohydrates as typically blood glucose does take a plunge during exercise as it has been burned by muscle tissue that is active.
During the end of the day, complex and simple carbohydrate sources are not necessary as the body no longer requires the immediate purpose of starches that is energy. The ingestion of fibrous foods before bed time is not an issue as they will typically only work to create a greater feeling of satiety in the stomach and in turn will limit the urge to snack on inappropriate foods at night time.
Simple vs. Complex
Simple carbohydrates are those that are essentially already broken down into basic forms of energy, and in turn one’s body does not have to work to process and break them down into usable energy. In some instances (such as low blood sugar times, such as post-exercise) this type of nutrient is suffice; however, one’s body thrives off of long-term energy acquired from complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates can be identified by utilizing a Glycemic Index Scale as discussed later.
Fiber: Soluble vs. Insoluble
Included as another form of complex carbohydrates are fibrous foods and vegetables. This is because fibrous foods work to increase feelings of satiety by filling an individual’s stomach, as well as providing additional nutrients to the body. There are two types of fiber that need to be accounted for, soluble as well as insoluble fiber.
First off there is soluble fiber that functions to bind with the fatty acids that are ingested and prolong stomach emptying so that an individual has the opportunity to feel fuller, longer. It also monitors and regulates the rate at which sugar is digested which is crucial for the treatment and prevention of diabetes. Soluble fiber also has a direct correlation to the levels of bad cholesterol in your body. Good sources of soluble fiber are: rolled oats, nuts, barley, flax, fruits, vegetables, as well as pysllium husk. All of which should be included as part of a healthy menu.
Next there is insoluble fiber, and although similar to soluble fiber it plays a different role in digestion. Insoluble fiber works to move bulky foods through the intestines as well as control the pH balance in an individual’s intestinal tract (so is to reduce the risk of heart burn or other pains that could be associated with digesting foods). Insoluble fiber works to push food through our GI tract and has a direct correlation to the prevention of constipation. This is important, because over time if food has the opportunity to build up it can start to grow microbes in ones colon and may eventually cause a disturbance in pH in the intestines. This is dangerous as such symptoms have led to cancers of the colon. Good sources of insoluble fiber are: seeds, nuts, fruit skins, and dark vegetables (such as green beans and asparagus).
The most important thing to take away from all this is that an individual’s body needs direct fiber sources in order for it to function properly. Introducing more whole grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables into an everyday menu will have a dramatic effect on both weight loss as well as leading a healthy lifestyle. The average individual requires about 25 grams of fiber per day, more specifically about 20 grams of insoluble and 5 grams of soluble. However, as long as you are getting your 5 servings of fruit and vegetables as well as at least 3 whole grain servings a day (oats, pysllium husk, etc.) then one is more than likely to be reaching their daily fiber requirements.
Glycemic Index Scale
The glycemic index scale is the measure of the effects of specific carbohydrates on the blood sugar levels in the body. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion will release glucose into the bloodstream at a rapid rate, and thus would be considered to be high on a GI scale. On the other side, carbohydrates that are slow on the release of glucose into the bloodstream upon digestion are considered to be low on a GI scale. A lower glycemic index response in the long term equates to a lower insulin demand by the body and improves blood glucose control. A Glycemix Index Scale runs from 0-100, while the following would represent a typical GI scale:
|Low GI||50 or Less||Most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts|
|Medium GI||51-65||Basmati rice, sweet potato, banana, melons|
|High GI||65+||Bread, breakfast cereals, glucose, maltose|
The glycemic index concept has been developed to characterize food behaviour during human ingestion. It should be noted that some foods that are considered to be composed of complex carbohydrates can still be categorized high on a GI scale due to certain a variety factors including, but not limited to, the preparation of that food as well as the degree to which it was processed.
The human body is comprised of over 60% water, and yet most North Americans still falter to achieve a dietary intake of sufficient water! It has become all too common for individuals to leave their bodies in a dehydrated state, whereby they leave themselves at risk for many negative health patterns as well as they lack the ability to recover from exercise!
Because the body is mainly made up of water, it is understood that body tissue, bones, as well as joints rely heavily on water to stay lubricated and in a performance state. Water also acts as a main transport unit in the body, meaning that it is responsible for the transportation of nutrients in and out of a cell membrane that aid in cell repair as well as cell duplication. This cellular repair is what allows us to heal from exercise and build new lean muscle tissue that is responsible for helping in weight loss as well as providing greater joint structure and strength in a given area.
Water acts a regulatory agent in the flushing of toxins through the body, and can work in conjunction with circulatory systems and the lymphatic system to rid the body of unwanted waist. As well, aiding in digestive patterns in the gastrointestinal tract. Water is also a positive factor in the regulation of body temperature, by letting the body sweat the body is able to release water from its pores in order to cool the body and avoid exhaustion.
When the body is dehydrated it can fall victim to “cardiovascular drift”. This is a state in which the bodies water capacity is so low that its overall blood volume has suffered. This means that the heart must hard to move a smaller amount of blood around the body during times of both exercise and recovery, in order to move nutrients and glycogen to much needed muscle cells for synthesis and further energy production. This decrease in blood volume due to dehydration causes an increase in both resting and working heart rate volume, and will cause the body to feel tired and sluggish sooner! Therefore, as an athlete, or even just the average gym-goer, proper hydration is important to keep your body performing in tip top shape!
If staying hydrated becomes an issue, it may also become important to supplement a balanced electrolyte supplement that will aid in the absorption and utilization of water once certain electrolytes have been expelled from the body during times of exhaustion or sickness.
Regardless, the benefits of water are astronomical, and chances are it is something you are neglecting! As a female you should be aiming for a minimum 3L per day, and as a male you should be aiming for a minimum 4L per day. However, if you feel parched and feel like you can drink more, then do it! And don’t be shocked if in the first few days of your new water regimen you find yourself using the bathroom a little bit more often. This is completely common, and will regulate itself quickly. The body is designed to adapt to new stimulus, and it will learn to function and perform better with the extra hydration.
When it comes to diabetes and exercise, there is no secret that exercise is a very important part of controlling type 2 diabetes. One of the major reasons that so many individuals are developing diabetes is due to a large increase in fat deposits stored on the body, and decreases in lean body mass to fat mass ratios. One of the major causes of becoming overweight is the poor diet and lack of exercise that majority of North Americans are falling victim too. Both of these things lead to a chemical imbalance in the bodily hormones which in turn can lead to poor digestion, weight gain, and eventually insulin resistance.
While maintaining a diabetic friendly diet you should also be engaging in a regular exercise regimen. Sometimes it may feel difficult to find time in daily life to exercise, but it is an essential part of in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes. For someone already falling victim to diabetes, regular cardiovascular exercise can help to increase total caloric expenditure and aid in overall weight loss. Simple exercises to get started are fine such as walking, hiking and biking, but eventually it may take a more adventurous challenge to give your body the kick start it needs! Considering kickboxing, Zumba, or even personal training has proven effective in shedding weight and increasing lean body mass.
Exercise offers a variety of benefits for people with type 2 diabetes aside from its effects on weight loss. Most notably, exercise increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin which decreases the amount of insulin an individual would need to keep going on a daily basis. By lowering blood sugar levels, it can sometimes even eliminate the need for medication! Exercise also aids in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Of course exercise is also critical in reducing the risk of heart disease and circulatory issues. Combined with a balanced and nutritious menu, rich in whole foods, exercise can drastically increase the effects of type 2 diabetes on the body as well as treat the overall symptoms and possibly stop the disease all together.
The aid of a nutritional expert is crucial and they can help you plan a nutritious and balanced menu that combines the proper types of carbohydrates, taking into account a glycemic index scale as well as staying away from artificial sugars and processed foods that can further hinder digestive and hormonal patterns. Using healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains combined with essential fatty acids and proteins help to manage and reduce the prevalence of diabetes.
Last week I shared a video about setting your total daily caloric intake. This week on build on that with discussion of foods and energy and the confusion that many people seem to have about permanent weight loss. Though it’s true we want to use more energy than we give the body in an effort to lose body fat we have to do so subtly. We must gently encourage the body to give up it’s survival resource for our own vain reasons. Traditional weight loss only continually sets you up for rebound, sickness, injury and disease. I think you’ll see that for yourself once you understand the basic premise of food energy, different sources of food energy and how your body uses this energy in return.
As a Red Deer weight loss coaching I’ve been educating my clients on this topic for well over a decade, I hope you find this short video helpful in reaching your own goals.
As a weight loss coach in Red Deer for well over a decade I can tell you I have reviewed thousands of food journals and I see the same thing over and over again. Our busy lives and logical work ethic of “if I want to lose weight I must burn more energy than I now consume” is making us fat and likely shortening our lives at the same time.
Though it is true we do need to create a subtle caloric deficit, what if you’re already in a deficit on a day to day basis? We all seem to be pretty mixed up about how much we actually do need to eat and how to relate that to our current habits. I walk you through the WHY of caloric recommendations in this video, I hope you find it helpful.
Red Deer Personal Trainer Writes:
By knowing the amount of food, or rather the range of allotted caloric intake for a day, an individual is better able to understand and manipulate food choices to allow for an intended outcome. A set amount of calories is not necessarily the goal; however, knowing and understanding the range of calories that is necessary for an individual’s goal is important so that a conscious daily effort can be made to elicit an intended result.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The first, and arguably most important number to understand is ones Basal Metabolic Rate (or rather, BMR). This number represents the total number of calories an individual would burn on a daily basis if they were to simply lay flat on their back for 24 hours. This total number of calories (calorie – Latin for energy) represents the amount of energy that is expended to maintain proper function of vital organs such as the lungs, heart, skin, liver, nervous system, muscles, kidneys and sex organs.
An individual’s BMR is based primarily on the size, gender, as well as the amount of lean mass a person is composed of. For males, typically their BMR score will be higher than that of a female based primarily on the fact that their muscular development is typically greater, as well as the fact that males typically are taller and thus contain greater overall body mass and greater organ size. For females, this is of course opposite (in most cases) as females are typically smaller and contain less lean muscle mass based primarily on the particular sex-related hormones they encompass.
Basal Metabolic Rate needs to be thought of as somewhat of a baseline amount of calories that need to be ingested over the course of a day. The problem is that if an individual ingests a total caloric intake below their BMR, a lack of energy (or fuel) is taking place in the body which leaves the body unable to complete even menial daily function (ie. Vital organ function). The body must then draw energy from additional sources, and the next place it will look is at the lean muscle mass of an individual. The reason this is counterproductive is that by burning lean muscle tissue, the body will then compensate by lowering its own BMR to match that of its average daily caloric intake. Essentially, by eating less than your BMR you are not losing fat, and rather losing muscle and the potential to burn greater calories on a daily basis. One pound of muscle (equivalent in size to a golf ball) is capable of burning 20-30 calories per hour while at rest, while a single pound of fat (equivalent in size to a baseball) is only capable of burning 1-2 calories per hour at rest. The important lesson to take from all this: eat more calories than your BMR and you will maintain lean muscle mass, and burn fat.
Would you rather burn off a golf-ball from your waistline? Or a baseball? – The answer is simple. And for athletes (and all other humans), the maintenance of lean muscle mass is essential to proper anatomical structure and the maintenance of strong joints and strength.
Specific Dynamic Action Of Foods (SDA)
Also referred to as the Theromogenic Effect of Foods, an individual’s SDA is comprised of the amount of calories that the body expends digesting food. Or rather, moving food through an individual’s digestive tract, including: esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Both physically pushing food through the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the excretion of specific enzymes cause the body to burn energy.
Activities Of Daily Living (ADL)
It is assumed that an individual is not going to lay flat on their back 24 hours a day and therefore additional calories are burned through even the most basic of daily activities. Essentially, anything that an individual does causes them to burn energy throughout the course of the day. Even sitting up straight activates certain muscles located in a person’s core cause a burning of calories, as well calories are burned through the thought processes associated with the activity one is performing. Albeit quite small increments of calories are burned through these processes, but when focusing on calculating a daily caloric expenditure it is important to account for all variables.
An individual who works a typical office job will not have an extraordinarily high ADL score; however, for some persons who perform manual labour jobs their ADL expenditure will tend to be quite high and thus compensation needs to occur based on an individual’s goal whether it be weight gain or weight loss.
Exercise is a relative subject, and will change from person to person. The idea behind exercise is to promote circulation, increase lean body mass through resistance training exercises, improve cardiovascular health, and burn calories in the form of fat and other appropriate sources. On a daily basis it should be ones goal to burn approximately 200 calories via cardiovascular methods, if the intended goal is weight loss. Resistance training and other forms of cross-training should also be adopted into a regular training schedule.
The following would be considered methods of burning 200 calories per day via cardiovascular forms of exercise:
- 30 minutes of treadmill walking at a comfortable pace, at a grade of 3.0% or higher
- 30 minutes of upright bike at a steady pace (usually 70-90 rpm) and at a level that allows for moderate but maintainable leg exhaustion
Where Do You Start?
As a female you need to eat between 1500 and 2200 calories (average) to lose weight. If you are eating 1700 calories, you will burn 500 calories a day (2200 – 1700 = 500), which over the period of a week will equal 3500 calories burned total (500 x 7 = 3500). This is the safe and effective way to burn a pound of body fat each week. Or rather, if an individual is looking to put on weight they would need to eat at, or just above their total caloric expenditure (2200 on average) in order to promote proper growth.
As a male you need to eat between 2100 and 2910 calories (average) to lose weight. If you are eating approximately 2410 calories, you will burn 500 calories a day (2910 – 2410 = 500), which over the period of a week will equal 3500 calories burned total (500 x 7 = 3500). This is the safe and effective way to burn a pound of body fat each week. Or rather, if an individual is looking to put on weight they would need to eat at, or just above their total caloric expenditure (2910 on average) in order to promote proper growth.
Common Question: “Why can’t I just eat below my BMR and burn that many more calories per day?”. The Answer: because by eating below your BMR you are not giving your body enough calories to burn fat, and in turn your body will burn off muscle instead of fat. Muscle is considered to be very “Metabolic” and this means that an individual wants to hang onto the muscle that they carry and burn off the excess fat. Of course, an individual body does require a certain amount of body fat in order for proper bodily functions to occur. For females their body fat percentage should lie between 15-25%, and for males it should be situated around 12-20%.
Take out a piece of paper and draw three, equally interlocking circles. Notice that all three circles only overlap a small amount in the very middle, and that any two of the circles overlap a little more. Now that you have that done I’d like to explain how this relates to your health, fitness and weight loss goals.
The three main reasons that many individuals might seek out someone like a personal trainer are these:
1) Vanity – Admit it, we’re all vain, we all want to look and feel amazing to our peers and in that silly thing we call a mirror. For most people, pertaining to fitness, this means weight loss. Please write weight loss in the uppermost of your three circles.
2) Health – Many people have experienced, or have family that has experienced a major health event, ranging from diabetes to heart disease and beyond these instances are often frantic motivators to improve your own habits. Please write health in one of the two remaining circles.
3) Performance – Finally there are these crazy people called athletes and a whole lot more of us that just wish we were athletes or simply want to perform better when chasing the children, grandchildren or other life activities. Please write performance in the final circle.
You now can see that these three reasons to improve your nutrition and fitness are all very important, they also interlock and are very related to one another, and likely make up your end goal. But what may not be immediately clear is notice that the largest space within our interlocking circles is in each individual area. The point I’m trying to make is that you cannot be 100% focused on all three of these things, at any given time (unless you currently, look, feel, and perform exactly how you want) if you want to maximize your progress you must focus on one of these areas; and each is uniquely different.
Weight loss is primarily a mathematical equation and some of the things that make weight loss faster and easier are certainly not going to ensure that you are as healthy as possible. That’s not to say that it is unhealthy, there is substantial overlap between losing weight and improving health (illustrated in our circle image) but if you want the fastest best result you cannot maximize your health at the same time.
For example certain foods when consumed in abundance provide everything from essential fats to antioxidants but by simply consuming the required volume for optimal health you will mess up the delicate mathematical equation that ensures steady, consistent weight loss.
And finally I think we all know that to truly perform to your utmost potential you must be walking the line of risk and injury, if this wasn’t true injury in sport wouldn’t be the prominent topic that it is in the world today.
Now you know if you’ve been trying to reach your weight loss goal and you’ve worked hard to alter your habits by controlling your portions, eliminating bad foods and are eating “healthy” there may be a very big difference in eating for health and eating for weight loss.
You start off a new diet plan with the best of intentions, you are motivated and determined you are going to reach your goal. During the first week people note and mention “the change in you” you’re fired up, you’re feeling great, and the scale is dropping like a boulder tumbling down a mountain. Then a weird thing happens, you get tired, you feel lethargic, you dread your next meal and you begin to develop feelings of resentment about the things you now feel like you have to do. You wind up feeling discouraged because your goal is in jeopardy, you started off so strong and felt so good, and even worse the scale is now coming to a grinding halt.
If this sounds eerily familiar I’m not surprised, I’ve heard this from countless people, and I’ve even experienced it myself. It’s a very challenging thing to go through, but reaching your goal and living and feeling the way you want depends on it.
Here’s some of things that are happening, knowing and understanding them may help you stay on track.
Blood Sugar Fluctuation – Whenever you change your eating habits you experience a change in your blood sugar fluctuations. Insulin is a super hormone; it’s involved in so much more than just the regulation of blood sugar. Changing habits for weight loss or better health generally produces smaller, less dramatic blood sugar spikes. These changes in turn not only have an effect on our immediate amount of energy but are greatly enhanced by the corresponding hormonal cascades which produce the corresponding feelings of elevated or decreased mood. From the jitters to anxiety anything is dramatically possible when changing daily nutritional habits. As personal trainers this is one of the reasons we really push for absolute consistency, meaning eating at the same time, eating the same or similar foods, in the same amounts for a duration. It may be boring but it eliminates numerous variables allowing for better management of the symptoms and a much increased chance of success.
Detoxification – Especially with a weight loss goal, change usually means more frequent or consistent exercise, a greater attention to the regular consumption of water, and regular food intake. All of these things are great at stimulating the metabolism. As you increase body temperature and circulation more fuel starts moving and burning throughout the system and much like chemicals or toxins in our environment as energy is released in your body so are the toxins that had been residually stored along with. These toxins once re-released within our body work their way through our kidneys and lymph system and ultimately out of the body through sweat and waste products. Unfortunately along the way they can exude their effects on our well being, the sluggish lethargy some people feel in the second and third weeks of a new exercise program can be the effects of toxins working their way out of the body.
North American Psychology – I wouldn’t know how else to summarize. We’re seriously wired in North America, every day we’re bombarded with carefully crafted messages, ideas, and social interactions. TV, radio, Facebook, billboards you name it, thousands of messages per day ultimately have shaped our culture and ideals. For example I remember once hearing that if a parent spoke to their child at every meal (assuming the standard 3 meals per day) a parent would have about 1000 opportunities a year to influence their child’s eating habits. Yet by comparison they would be competing with an average of 10,000 messages a week from fast food outlets alone. When our enthusiasm for a new goal wanes we may begin to feel self-doubt about our objective. A process of validation now begins because we’re so heavily bombarded with the message of convenience and instant gratification. The rigors of change to reach a weight loss goal easily translate to inconvenient, different, and restrictive. These three words in their very being carry a negative meaning or impact upon our subconscious mind. Even though you may wish to reach your goal more than anything it places our cultural ideal of instant gratification and convenience in jeopardy through your period of change. Because this translates to a negative message to the subconscious our mechanism of self-preservation kicks in leading that negative association to validation as to why you should return to old habits and abandon your goal. The same is true of anyone trying to overcome any form of addiction; the action of the bad habit is often associated with a positive feeling (take smoking for example, people smoke to take a break or relieve stress, a positive feeling), where the change initially feels negative by the way of hard, difficult, or restrictive (for example I “can’t” eat that pizza it’s not on my diet, it’s negative because you are actively avoiding something you enjoy.) In order to effectively change the behaviour you must deal with the subconscious perception of the action.
Each journey consists of numerous roadblocks, the greater your understanding and acceptance of them the easier they become to identify, navigate and avoid.
When it comes to dieting most of us have been educated on the oversimplified idea that to lose weight it simply means to ensure your body is in a caloric deficit, generally by consuming less and burning more. This is only a portion of the real picture and in truth can really bring your weight loss efforts to a halt. It may be hard to believe but a common concept (one responsible for the majority of our repeated success) in our personal training facility is the idea of eating more to lose weight. Don’t put the paper down now I’m about to share one of the biggest secrets to making weight loss easy and automatic.
Let’s take you behind the scenes in an effort to teach you how this works and why what you are doing now may not be working. Food, in its simplest form, breaks down to calories. Calories are simply a measure of heat, heat in essence is a by-product of the production of energy, therefore food is a fuel for energy production. If we associate our bodies to a machine like the engine in your car we know that energy produced by the engine makes the car do all its wondrous things and your car engine won’t run without fuel. Two problems are created when you restrict the amount of fuel to your body.
First your body must adapt to too little fuel. When we consume too little food (or poor quality food though that’s a different article) our body doesn’t run right, just like a car running on diluted gas. The exception is our body is so amazing at adaptation for survival it may already be running poorly and you haven’t even noticed. Our body adapts to too little by slowing down our metabolism, this is accomplished by shutting down portions of metabolic systems like the immune system, like production of digestive components like enzymes and stomach acids, like the fat burning furnaces in muscle cells. It would be the equivalent of a factory laying off half its workers, sure the factory is still there and you or I might not even notice the difference but those inside the factory know they are working at far below capacity. So ask yourself if you could be eating too little next time you feel the signs of indigestion, seem to fall ill as often as everyone else, feel fatigued at certain points throughout the day, or find it difficult to focus at work or otherwise, chances are your factory only has half its workers.
The second problem is you are missing out on a huge opportunity to burn body fat. Most people don’t realize this but every single one of us possesses a far better fat burning tool than a treadmill, it comes factory installed at birth; that is the stomach. Breaking down food to its basic components of amino acids (protein), glucose (carbohydrates) and triglycerides (fats) is hard work. It gets even harder when food is denser like whole natural meats and especially vegetables. These dense foods require a number of enzymes and stomach acids to do their job to process the food and get it ready to be used by cells. In fact it sometimes takes so much work and energy to breakdown this food that more energy is spent than is actually gained from the now digested food. It’s this mechanism that we use to make permanent weight loss a reality.
Statistically I can tell you with confidence from the thousands of people I’ve seen that the average female consumes about 1000-1200 calories per day and the average male somewhere around 2000. If you completed a simple BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) equation, adjusted for activities of daily living you would learn that the average female should be consuming about 1800-2000 calories per day and the average male 2800-3000. You can easily find this equation online and see for yourself, just remember the equation estimates calories needed to maintain your current weight in a 24 hour period and still needs to be increased for every activity you do.
Ok back to fat loss, if you didn’t already know a pound of body fat is the equivalent of 3500 calories of energy. On the most basic understanding we could suggest that expending this much extra energy in one way or another we should lose a pound of body fat, not quite that simple but good enough for this article. An hour of walking utilizes about 300-400 calories on average; comparatively digestion of one good meal of dense whole vegetables can create a caloric deficit of 100 calories or more. So for every hour you spend on the treadmill you could accomplish the same watching TV if you made a point to consume dense foods at least four additional times per day. I’m not advocating not exercising, but rather suggesting you make your whole day more efficient by using your body’s natural systems to your advantage.
Eating dense food frequently takes advantage of using digestion for weight loss, additionally ensures a steady stream of nutrients to enhance the many metabolic systems making us healthier, and as habits are established provides the foundation of permanent weight loss. If you doubt this at all just consider that most major weight loss centres preach portion control and meal frequency and listen carefully and you soon also note that one of the largest, longest running, most well known weight loss centres has recently re-written their whole plan increasing caloric intake and educating people why calories may need to be adjusted based on activity.
Over the years a number of different diets have come and gone, but through Atkins, The Zone, South Beach and many others one thing seems to remain consistent, be cautious of how many carbohydrates you consume.
This is reasonably good advice and yet over simplified. For most of us the only reason that carbohydrate consumption ever becomes a problem is for these two reasons:
1) The abundance of food processing or additives used in food preparation contains countless grams of hidden sugars you never realize you’re consuming.
2) Most people don’t understand the differences between a starchy carbohydrate and a fibrous carbohydrate and how each has its distinct benefits.
No matter what your belief about carbohydrates if I could urge you to make one positive change in your own nutritional habits today; it would be to reduce processed food and food additive consumption. By doing everything you can to eliminate as much or all processed food and keeping dining out to a minimum you will eliminate many food additives. This decision alone will potentially reduce your daily caloric intake by 15-25%, all of which will be primarily sugar and fat. We’ve seen new clients at One-to-1 Fitness lose as much as 8lbs in their first week as their bodies detoxify from all of these hidden sugars and additives.
Next if steady weight loss is your goal it’s important that you understand the differences between starches and fibrous carbohydrates and what they mean to your goals.
Starchy carbohydrates include potatoes, rice, oatmeal, other grains, and vegetables like peas and corn. When you consume a starchy carbohydrate it is quickly devoured in the stomach. This quick reaction results in an equally quick elevation of blood sugar prompting an insulin release. Insulin, in our body, is like the master key, it unlocks any door to any cell. Once blood sugar is elevated insulin quickly goes to work unlocking doors and allowing the blood glucose to enter, first to muscle cells, then to our liver. Once the liver is topped up the excess blood sugar cannot remain in the blood stream it must go somewhere. The body’s want not, waste not attitude begins to assemble left over blood sugar into triglycerides which become just as you expect, body fat.
So in this simplified word picture you can perhaps see the basic component of managing the shape of your body, we simply need to find ways to manage our blood sugar ensuring we never do more than top up the liver with blood sugar.
One of the ways to use excess blood sugar before it’s assembled into triglycerides is of course to exercise or be active, something we all need to do for a variety of reasons. But we can also add to your fitness and weight loss strategy another form of efficiency, fibrous carbohydrates.
Fibrous carbohydrates consist primary of your dense vegetables such as Celery, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peppers, Asparagus and so on. Fibrous vegetables in comparative volumes to their starchy counterparts don’t contain nearly as many calories, additionally those precious energy calories are very difficult to extract. Within the stomach the body must often expend more calories than it receives breaking down fibrous vegetables. This means you’ve effectively turned your stomach into an engine to consume some otherwise excess blood sugar, in fact when your nutrition is balanced your 24/7 hard working stomach can become one of the best fat burning tools available to you.
Now that you understand the basics you can see why eliminating processed foods and food additives; as well as combining starchy carbohydrates with fibrous carbohydrates may be a helpful addition to anyone with a weight loss goal. Your body is much like an engine making it perform optimally or change physically is much about finding the right mix of fuel, and taking it out for a drive (exercise) on a regular basis.