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Tag Archives: carbs

  • Do You Need Carbohydrate (Carbs) To Build Muscle and Bulk Up?

    It's very widely accepted that protein is a necessity when aiming to build muscle. After all, muscle is a highly abundant source of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), so it makes sense that in order to build substantial muscle mass, you require an above average intake of protein. Science too confirms this. Yet when it comes to your carbohydrate consumption, there is a lot of confusion on the topic. Do you need carbs to bulk up?

    The answer is yes, you absolutely, unequivically require carbohydrates to build muscle. Reducing or even attempting to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet will impede muscle growth and most likely result in muscle loss. Carbohydrates are not only required to build (and maintain) muscle, they are required to facilitate proper brain function and maintain energy levels.

    The question now becomes - if amino acids (which form proteins) are a primary constituent of muscle tissue, why are carbs necessary if they do not play a direct role in the structure of a muscle fibre? Let's consider why.

    Protein synthesis is the act of creating proteins. When muscles are developing, protein synthesis is occurring by connecting amino acids together into proteins and thus into muscle cells. This is what causes muscle growth, or hypertrophy. In order for this to happen, muscle cells must be able to source amino acids from the blood stream. This is not possible without the presence of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin acts as a blood glucose regulator. In order to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high and becoming dangerous, insulin is secreted to reduce blood glucose levels.

    Now the question becomes, if hypertrophy requires amino acids, and amino acid uptake is only possible with the presence of insulin, how then do we increase insulin levels?

    Carbohydrates

    Upon ingesting carbohydrates, our body's attempt to break them down into glucose, a simple sugar. Too much glucose in the blood stream can lead to hyperglycemia, so insulin comes along to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.

    Ultimately, eliminating any nutrient from your diet is a mistake. Proteins, carbs and fats are all required for optimal muscle development. Removing carbs is a big mistake for anyone seeking to gain muscle tissue.

  • Stay Away from CARBS!

    Have you been fooled into thinking that carbohydrates are "evil"? That you should avoid these nutrients at any expense so you don't experience unwanted fat gain? Have low-carb diets taken over your life?

    Well, think again. Carbohydrates are in fact a nutrient; something that is required for the normal functioning of the human body. By eliminating carbohydrates altogether from your dietary intake, you significantly increase the risks of problems such as:

    • Malnourishment
    • Initiation of ketosis, a potentially dangerous condition resulting in breakdown of bone, damage to organs, amongst other things
    • Lack of energy
    • Constipation
    • Bad breath
    • Loss of concentration
    • Kidney stones
    • Kidney infections
    • Reduced kidney function
    • Gout
    • Diabetes
    • Osteoporosis
    • Cancer
    • Irritable bowel syndrome, severe abdominal pain or cramps
    • Vertigo, dizziness or light-headedness
    • Nausea
    • Severe menstrual problems
    • Diarrhoea

    I could continue, but I think you get the idea. Carbohydrates are in fact a requirement for a healthy body!

    But how did carbs become associated with such a negative stigma of being the nutrient that makes everyone fat? Here's an extract from our free weight loss course:

    Carbohydrates, commonly referred to as "carbs" have been assigned a very negative connotation over the past couple of decades. One could trace this back to the Atkins Diet which gained significant exposure in the early 1990's following it's revitalisation as a result of the Robert Atkins' (M.D.) best selling book, "Dr. Atkins". This diet is an extremely low carbohydrate diet. In actual fact, the Atkins Diet was developed in the 1960's - so it's nearly 50 years old! (And here I was saying that the food pyramid was outdated!)

    Many people have lost a significant amount of weight as a result of a carbohydrate depleted diet. This then paved the way for many new "low-carb" diets and products to be marketed successfully, promising weight loss in a short period of time. But unfortunately the health, wellbeing and long-term sustainability of such low-carb diets are often not contemplated when the words "FAST WEIGHT LOSS" are flashed in front of consumers eyes. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, many low-carb dieters have experienced problems [such as those listed above].

    Especially if you want to lose weight, build muscle or improve your fitness in a healthy and sustainable manner, it is imperative to balance your nutrition! I highly recommend that you sign up to our free weight loss course for more information!

  • After a very intense initial workout, I was nauseous and shaking. Should I eat carbs? Won't this cause fat gain?

    Ouch!  Sounds like you had a pretty tough workout!

    Often if you push your body too hard, it can react quite adversely - typically if your body isn't used to the physical stress it has been placed under.  Whilst intensity is an excellent tool to stimulate changes in your body, if you do have limited recent exercise experience and conditioning, it is often wise to slowly build up intensity levels so your body has time to adjust.

    Post workout nutrition is absolutely vital - particularly following an intense workout.  Your body has reacted in this way for a reason - it is run down and needs to recover.  Recovery is greatly assisted through protein, carbohydrate and fat intake (at the correct times).  Recovery is also encouraged by physical, stress-free rest.

    A high glycemic index (GI) means that the carbohydrates will get absorbed into your system extremely quickly.  This is very important after your workout - essentially you want nutrients back into your system ASAP so your body has a chance to recuperate.  There have been countless studies on post-workout nutrition and the benefits of high glycemic index carbohydrates with regards to recovery.

    And I wouldn't be too concerned with fat gain following your workout.  Within approximately 2 hours from the completion of your workout, your body "soaks up" carbohydrates for storage within your muscle cells.  This is part of the recovery process.  Exercise is the catalyst for these flood gates to open up.  We store carbohydrates as glycogen in our muscles - a form of fuel required in order to provide energy for exercise.  The body will only convert macronutrients (ie. protein/carbohydrates/fat) into adipose tissue (ie. the fat you see) when there is a surplus of unneeded calories going into your body.  Following your intense workout, your body is in a significant caloric deficit.

  • What does the nutritional information panel on Australian food products mean?

    Generally speaking, the nutritional information on an Australian product contains the following components required by AU Law:

    • Energy
    • Fat (saturated/non-saturated)
    • Carbohydrate (sugars/complex)
    • Protein
    • Sodium
    • Ingredients

    I am unsure about the specifics of Australian product labelling laws and what other information is required under what circumstances.

    The nutritional information is divided into two major sections:

    • Nutritional Panel - Details the amount of each component within the product
    • Ingredients - Details the type of each component within the product

    Let's begin with the nutritional panel.

    Beginning with sodium, this is a mineral (a micronutrient). An abundant source of sodium is your table salt (sodium chloride). We do require sodium to function...but only in small amounts. There's evidence to suggest that excessive sodium intake over an extended period of time promotes the likelihood of various diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease. Processed foods are commonly high in sodium and this is often best avoided from a health standpoint.

    Fat, carbs and proteins are macronutrients. They are all of different chemical structure and perform different tasks within our body. All three are required nutrients for our bodies to function effectively.

    Proteins are chains of amino acids - the building blocks of cells. Our body can only manufacture a certain number of amino acids, others have to be obtained through our diet. The long-term health effects of a high protein diet are still inconclusive, but many practitioners believe it could lead to osteoporosis (due to inhibited calcium absorption) and renal disease.

    Carbohydrates are required to maintain blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels. We need these for energy and will not function efficiently if our diet is lacking carbohydrates. There are two types - sugars (simple) and complex carbohydrates. All this means is that sugar molecules are shorter in length and complex molecules are longer.

    The breakdown of carbohydrates on a nutritional panel means very little. Of more concern is the glycemic index (GI) - how quickly the carbohydrate is utilised by the body. High GI will be absorbed rapidly, whereas a low GI product will be utilised over an extended period of time. High GI is a useful tool for recovery after exercise when your body needs nutrients quickly. However a diet that heavily relies on high GI foods promotes the risk of diabetes, obesity and various other diseases.  Unfortunately GI is not currently a requirement under Australian law.

    Fats assist the transport of fat-soluble nutrients around the body. There are many different types of fats which makes life a bit confusing. Omega-3 fats are your 'healthy' fats and should be included in your typical diet. Diets high in saturated and trans fats can lead to an whole array of problems later down the track including heart attacks, elevated cholesterol, cancers and aneurysms.

    The energy value is a result of your three macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) along with any other energy containing components (eg. glycerine). This will tell you how many calories/kilojoules are in that product.  It is an excellent tool for monitoring your daily caloric intake.

    Ingredients is extremely important to determine the quality of the macronutrients within a product. For example, a product with a high percentage of a grain as opposed to a meat will have a low quality protein component. Similarly olive oil is generally a healthier fat-containing ingredient than butter.  The ingredients are listed in order of abundance.

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