Let’s talk about Carbohydrates. In the fitness world, there are many mis-conceptions about certain foods, especially Carbohydrates. Some say you should have them and cut down on fats, some say you shouldn't have them at all and only consume protein and fats, some say carbs have no calories etc.
In this article, I will talk to you about these statements and give you my knowledge and research behind it. Then, you can make your own decision.
First of all, they are one of three Macronutrients, along side protein and fats. Carbs are the main source of energy for our body. Carbs are stored as glycogen in the body and then converted into glucose for when we need it.
There are two types of Carbohydrates
Refined carbs are foods such as sweets, cakes, biscuits and most things containing a lot of sugar. White bread, white pasta and pastries also. These are dangerous as they have a high GI and can be used as a quick release of energy. BUT, they do not contain many nutrients and can be seen as wasted calories to consume, which if we don’t exercise will get stored.
Are the wholemeal products that contain fibre which can give a feeling of fullness and help regulate blood sugar levels. They have a lower GI and have less sugars compared to Refined Carbs. Some examples are wholemeal bread, whole grain rice, fresh or frozen vegetables, sweet potato and quinoa.
Last months article spoke about RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) and BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) Therefore, it is worth noting -
Carbohydrates 1g = 4kcal
Proteins 1g = 4kcal
Fats 1g = 9kcal
The body needs Carbohydrates to function. Without them, we will function more slowly, we will feel tired and lethargic. We will have less energy and we will be depleted. Our brain needs Carbs so without them, our decision making is affected and so is our memory to recall information. Remember, vegetables are Carbs. Without them we can be low in energy, become ill and notice deterioration in our hair, skin and nails as we are missing vitamins and minerals.
Some people try a Low Carb diet. This is basically where they will reduce the amount of Carbohydrates a day they have. For example they may drop down to less than 50g a day. If you track this, you will find that it is very challenging. Serotonin is the feel good chemical in our brain, that promotes feeling of happiness and satisfaction. This affects our mood. Some studies show there is a link between Low Carb diets, not exercising and depression.
Q. Should I eat Carbs but cut down on fats?
A. That would be a good start. Fats contain more kcal per gram so be wary of that when measuring your daily calorie intake.
Q. Should I cut out Carbs completely and only have Proteins and Fats?
From above, that would be unsustainable. You wouldn't be able to function very well and should maybe choose better Carb options with Lower GI which will make you feel fuller for longer.
Q. Do Carbs have no calories?
A. Unless you’re eating thin air, which is referred to as breathing then eating foods contain calories.
You have the power to choose what foods you eat. To achieve any goal you set in life or fitness, you need discipline and commitment. Results take time. If you have started to reduce Carbs in your diet but your weight isn't changing much on the weighing scales, that’s ok. Trust the process as these things take time. It is also worth noting, that you may be losing body fat, which a normal weighing scale doesn't show you. If you drop body fat and increase muscle mass, your weight will not change much on the scales.
Remember, to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s all about balance. Therefore getting the balance between eating the right amount of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats is key. By all means, cut back and cut down but in moderation. Drastic changes and cut backs will only be a short term fix and can have a big effect on the body, causing cravings. It’s the sustainable measures that bring better results for you and for your health.
It’s almost time to get outdoors and exercise as the weather becomes cooler and more bearable. But we must remember, that here in Dubai, we are still in the desert and staying hydrated is really important.
Water, known as H2O by it’s chemical value, is the best source of hydration. Our human body is made up of 60% water. We lose water through perspiration when we sweat or when we urinate. We can increase the amount of water we have from drinking and from the foods we eat.
When are thirsty, we are already dehydrated. This is how the body tells us, by sending a signal to the brain to get us to drink. A 1% loss of body mass due to fluid loss is know as dehydration.
Here are some scary facts in relation to dehydration:
Studies say you need to drink around 2 Litres of water a day and that is without exercising.
Exercise causes the body core temperature to increase which causes us to sweat. When we sweat due to the rise in heat and temperature, we lose not only water but vitamins and minerals also. You should increase your water intake if you are exercising.
If you drink coffee or alcohol, that will also dehydrate you. You will find that you go to the toilet a lot. What you are essentially doing here, is urinating the water out of your body and replacing it with caffeine or alcohol. Then the following day, in the case of alcohol, you wake up with a hangover, which is when your body is severely dehydrated. You then feel hungry and crave all the bad foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats. This is a Personal Trainers worst nightmare and a viscous circle. Hydrate yourself with water before you go to bed will reduce the hangover.
So how can you be healthier? Well, you can drink more. But what if you don’t like water? Then you can use lemon or lime to make infused water. This adds a bit of flavour without the sugar content of a sugary drink and without the calories.
Below are some estimates for you…
Can of Coke = 260 kcal
Orange juice = 120 kcal
Latte = 200 kcal
Hot chocolate = 230 kcal
Green tea = 140 kcal
Water = 0 kcal
Obviously, the serving size of each drink will determine the total amount of calories but it’s worth choosing the less calorie option, if you want to lose weight. Try it, stay hydrated and feel more alert!
Don't let being dehydrated, affect your performance, at work or in the gym!
Top tip - Know what you want before you set foot inside the supermarket.
How do you do this? Write yourself a list of what you're going to get or save notes on your phone so you have a plan.
Why? Because going to the supermarket can be dangerous.
There are many offers on, savings and discounts which can distract you and steer you away from the healthy options. If you don't know what you want, you are going in blind. Therefore you are more likely to be tempted by putting anything in your trolley, which can result in a bad choice which is often the bad, unhealthy foods.
Think about it, how many times have you 'added' foods to your trolly because it's something you 'fancy'. Yes, I've done it too.
The smell of the bakery as you walk passed, the aisle of chocolates and cookies, the freshly made doughnuts or cooked chicken...it's a challenge, but don't do it. Try to eliminate the risk and possibility of that happening by avoiding that section or shopping aisle and follow your list!
Top tip - Set yourself a time limit to do your food shop and if you run over, mainly because you're spending more time getting foods that aren't on your list, then that's how many minutes of cardio you should do. 1 minute = 1 item
Our mood can also determine what foods we buy. If we are sad, depressed or tired we will purchase more processed, ready made foods and snacks to make us feel better, which will lead to comfort eating.
Top tip - If you shop alone, listen to your music as you walk around. Having your favourite songs on will make you feel happier and if you have your list to follow, you will have to concentrate to do that.
Try to make sure your trolley is balanced or in line with your Macronutrient spit. This can vary for each individual but it's important to be conscious of this when you shop.
Look to follow below -
Each person will absorb and use these differently, it's finding the best that suits you, your body type and exercise levels. Select one point below for each meal time.
Mid Morning Snack (10-11am)
Afternoon snack (3-4pm)
Meal times are important along with the size of the meal you are having.
This is where most people go wrong when it comes to food. They may eat healthy, but they're simply eating too much.
The more we exercise, the more our appetite increases. Therefore we become more hungry, but the key here is to eat the same. If we increase the amount of food we eat, we are eating more calories, which will lead to a calorie surplus and we will gain. If we eat the same of less amount of calories, this will lead to a calorie deficit and we will lose weight.
It's all about being educated and knowing your body. There is no 'magic' plan. Create a calorie deficit, exercise and be consistent in what you do.
What should I do first?
Here are 3 simple tips for you to implement today.
Need more help? Get in touch via the 'Contact' tab at the top of the page and we can help you!
For me, it depends 'HOW' you use them.
What do I mean by that?...Well, do you have a cupboard at home that looks like a pharmacy? Or do you take the odd tub of this and the odd tub of that?
I use supplements because I can't always get the right amount of vitamins and minerals in on a daily basis. Rather than my body be without these nutrients, Supplements help me.
Top tip - Supplements are exactly that. They supplement your diet, they are extra. You still need to eat proper food to maintain a healthy balanced diet.
There are many Supplements out there. Some of which are not that important, some which are.
Before you go out shopping and come home with hundreds of different powders and tablets, it's important to know what you are buying and how it can affect you.
After all, you don't want your kitchen looking like a pharmacy. Natural food source is best!
There are 3 main forms of Whey Protein, which are in order from thickest to thinnest. From slowest digestion and absorption to fastest.
Whey is basically a mixture of minerals blended together. BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and Leucine are the main sources that promote protein synthesis.
This can help speed up recovery and muscle soreness after exercise. After all protein is used by the body for growth and repair.
Studies show that taking Whey Protein shortly after vigorous exercise, can boost muscle hypertrophy
Branch Chain Amino Acids are important for our muscles. They are the link between the food we eat and the absorption into our muscles.
BCAA's are known as the 'Building Blocks' or 'Bridges' of the body. They are made up of the following -
BCAA's make up over 30% of our muscle mass and are needed for growth to take place.
EAA's (Essential Amino Acids) are what our body needs the most because it can not be produced. They help to build new muscle tissue and repair cells that are damaged during exercise. We must get these from our diet or from supplementation.
NEAA'S (Non-Essential Amino Acids) are what our body can produce so are not in as great demand as BCAA's.
If you have an intense training routing you could take EAA's before training and BCAA's after training.
Omega 3 has a great impact on your brain and how it functions. It helps increase neuronal growth and cerebral circulation. This helps with our nervous system and muscle system meaning messages are sent and decision making can be improved.
Omega 3 comes from animals and plants. The main animal sources are fish oil and krill oil whereas the main plant sources are flaxseed, chia and hemp.
Another benefit of Omega 3 is that it regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels. This is important as it can affect the health of our most important organ, our heart.
Christmas and New Year are times where we 'let ourselves go' a little bit.
We tend to eat more food than our body is used to.These foods are normally not good for us because they are high in Carbohydrates, Fats and high in calories.
We have foods that contain a lot of sugar which causes our body to spike in glucose and if we don't exercise, we store it as fat.
We also drink more than we would normally. Alcohol contains calories too remember...it also dehydrates us which means we lose water and the good vitamins and minerals.
Eating more + Drinking more + Exercising Less = Weight Gain
I could just write that one word and leave it there, it really is that simple. But I'm going to elaborate. You need to exercise smart, which is specific to your body type, your fitness levels and what you like.
For example, doing something you enjoy will make you want to keep doing it. Exercising sustainably will burn calories consistently and promote weight loss.
Compound movements are great for burning calories and helping with strength. Try these free weights exercises with a barbell -
4) Bench Press
5) Military Press
Eat less calories.
Aim to eat 500 kcals less a day, than your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) But don't starve yourself. Your body needs food to function and will use muscle mass if you aren't eating enough! Stay away from processed foods and fast foods.
For example, let's say your BMR is 2500 kcal a day. That is to 'JUST' maintain your physique. Drop it down 500 kcals to 2000 kcal a day and you will create a deficit.
Over a week, you will be in a 3500 kcal deficit which is 1lb of fat. That doesn't sound much, but it is a start.
Drinking more H20 will help to flush any bad toxins out of your body. Water is the best form of fluid which you can use for hydration and weight loss. Aim to drink at least 2.5 to 3L a day. Increase this is you live in a hot climate or exercise.
Fresh foods, ones that have a low Carbohydrate and Fat ratio, ones that have a Low GI (Glycemic Index) are more beneficial for you if you want to lose weight.
Colour - Avoid boring
Try and make your plate as colourful as possible. Different types of vegetables will give you different vitamins and minerals that can not only facilitate weight loss, but strength the immune system, improve your skin and make you feel more energised.
Check out the food groups below, which you can include in your weekly shop...
Meat & Fish
Knowing the different Somatotypes can have a big impact on the food you eat, which can affect your overall body shape. Train specifically for your somatotype and you will start to see better results!
Sounds simple but how many of us, really know, our BMR?
How many of us count our calories on a daily basis?
Knowing this can positively affect weight loss and weight gain!
Understand how the body uses Macro and Micronutrients. Analyse how many kcals are in a gram of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.
Calculate your daily calorie intake and see if its within your RDA?
Learn about your Basal Metabolic Rate and how many Calories your body needs in relation to Weight Loss or Weight Gain. Understand the different types of Macronutrients and how to utilise this on a daily basis using portion control and meal timings.
Study the different somatotypes and how to eat and train based on you genetics.
Understand what BMR stands for, know your macronutrients based on your somatotype and learn how to calorie count in order to gain weight or lose weight.
Once we know this, we can then look at our body type, also known as Somatotype. Understanding this can help us get FASTER results!
Which one are you?
Get in touch if you want to know more!
Why is it important to have breakfast?
What happens to the body if you don't?
What should you have for breakfast?
Where does my body get energy from if I skip breakfast?
What is the Survival mechanism?
Learn what foods are good and what are bad.
Understand food labels and how many calories you need a day, to achieve your goal and create a calorie deficit or a gain.
There are three main macronutrients, they are Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. They help the body function and that provide it with energy.
In all the foods we eat, there is a make up Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Each will have a caloric value. This means that if you eat a certain proportion of Carbs, Proteins and Fats, you will consume a certain amount of calories.
These are Vitamins and Minerals. The body needs these to function but they are not as essential as Macronutrients.
They play a vital role in protecting the body such as the immune system and digestive system.
By calculating your Macros you can be sure that what you eat is accurate. To gain weight, increase Carbs and Proteins along with your RDA of calories. To lose weight, reduce Carbs and eat more Proteins and good Fats.
In simple terms, calories in vs calories out.
Everybody is different. Therefore the one size fits all approach for training and nutrition, doesn't work.
Generally, the basic training and nutrition principles are the same, but why do we continue to put on weight and eat unhealthy foods?
For more information about Nutrition and for a fully comprehensive Nutrition Plan, send us an email and we will be in touch.