Carbohydrates are a form of sugar which is broken down by your body into fuel.
There are simple and complex carbs and there are fibrous carbs which are extremely low in calories.
The fibrous carbs-vegetables, don’t cause any weight gain. It’s the other form of carbs we need to manipulate. Eating too many vegetables will not make you gain weight (of course it has to be cooked with care, don’t expect to not gain weight if you’re using fat laden methods to cook your veggies)
The simple carbs are the ones we need to avoid. Sugar, syrups, juice etc. These, after consumption are broken down by the body quickly and give us an instant spike in the insulin.
Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, on the other hand are better and more suited for our body. The body takes a longer time to break down these carbs due to its low Glycemic index. As a result it does not spike your insulin instantly which simple carbs do. Now why does a spike in the insulin matter? Before that, what is Glycemic index? GI is the rate at which carbohydrates convert to glucose in your body. The higher the GI, the quicker it converts to glucose and spikes the insulin. Your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. If your blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and hungry. And if it goes up, you secrete more insulin. Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat. When you eat high GI foods there will be a rapid Glycemic response, which will elevate your energy as your blood sugar rises, however, the same will be followed by a chance of increased fat storage, and will end up making your more hungry.
So why does a spike in insulin matter? Once the carbs are ingested, it converts to glucose and spikes the insulin. Insulin is produced by and released from the pancreas. It enters your blood stream and travels to your tissues. Now your body understands this and lets it enter into your blood cells. You store this in the form of muscle and liver glycogen. When your muscle and liver storage is full, the excess carbs are released back into your blood stream and needs to be burnt or else it will get stored as fat. Now, you understand that your body needs an insulin spike which produces energy. We need to stick to low GI carbs as they are digested slowly and keep the blood sugar levels(Insulin) constant. The body does not require constant energy. Your cells have stored glucose which can be used by the body.When do you need instant energy? Before your workout, when you are about to start your day or at any time your activity level is high, like in the morning. Technically you could eat a fast digesting carb(white rice) before your workout to maximize your body’s insulin response, But lets leave pre and post workout meals for another article. For now, remember to stick to low GI carbs as they are broken down slowly and take long to digest which keeps your insulin under control. So timing your carbs, and the kind of carbs is essential as well. Will touch on good vs bad carbs in another article.
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