Should You Cut Carbs to Get Your Summer Body?
Carbs, your body’s main source of energy for optimal function, are what many weight loss diets tell you to reduce. Some even encourage you to cut carbs altogether to help you lose weight and keep it off. But does that really do the trick? Should you cut carbs to get your summer body? The FizzUp trainer shares his point of view when it comes to carbs.
CARBS, FUEL FOR YOUR BODY
Carbs, better known as sugar, are organic compounds that make up your main source of energy. They should account for more than half of your daily energy intake (up to 55%). There are simple carbs (glucose, lactose, fructose, sucrose) and complex carbs (starch), which only differ from simple carbs because of their chemical structure. For years, the scientific community mistakenly thought that simple carbs were quickly absorbed by your digestive system, and that complex carbs were slowly absorbed by your digestive system, meaning that the speed of absorption depended on the sugar’s chemical structure.
But this theory is now obsolete! In fact, in 1981, Dr. David J. A. Jenkins from the University of Toronto, Canada, developed the theory of the glycemic index (GI). It shows how carbs impact your blood sugar levels depending on the food you eat. The closer the food’s GI value is to 100, the faster the food will cause an immediate spike and drop in your blood sugar levels. As a result, this makes you feel full for a shorter period of time and promotes weight gain. This discovery has gradually replaced prior carb classification.
For example, a potato (made of starch, which is a complex carb) was previously considered to be slowly absorbed by your digestive system by the previous classification theory, except that it has a very high glycemic index value.
IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO CUT CARBS?
The sun is back, so you might be thinking about the beach and going on vacation. Maybe you want to lose the few pounds or kilos that you gained over the winter and have considered going on a fad diet… one that tells you that cutting all carbs from your eating habits will work wonders!
This diet deprives you of carbs so that your body primarily uses fat and protein as energy. Using fat as a source of energy instead of carbs creates waste, called ketone bodies. That’s why this kind of diet is called the ketogenic diet. In terms of nutrients, this diet is about 90% fat, 8% protein, and 2% carbs. But be careful, because this diet has several side effects, such as fatigue, headaches, nausea and difficulty concentrating, all of which can continue to occur up to one month after you start this diet, because your body goes into a state of “ketosis”. This is also the state that will cause you to lose your appetite, so you tend to eat less and lose weight.
In terms of athletic performance, most studies are inconclusive. The only advantage it would have for you in terms of physical activity would be that it keeps your blood sugar levels stable and your energy levels sufficient during exercise. But before you can experience these benefits, your body has to get used to it and while it does, you can’t be physically active. Your body will quickly get dehydrated, and because this diet significantly draws on the glucose stored in your muscles (called glycogen) and reduces your muscle power and endurance. This diet can lead to many deficiencies in protein, which can lead to a loss in muscle mass, as well as fiber, vitamins and antioxidants due to a low intake of grains, fruits and vegetables.
THE TRAINER’S RECOMMENDATION
From a nutritional point of view, completely cutting carbs from your eating habits isn’t recommended, because doing this isn’t part of eating a balanced diet. You may experience several side effects and suffer from severe deficiencies. After physical exertion, you need to eat carbs in order to replenish your glycogen stores, which is your muscles’ main source of energy! What’s more, this kind of diet is hard to stick to (psychologically speaking) when you’ve always had the habit of eating carbs. The risk is that you’ll gain back all the weight you lost (or even more) when you start eating carbs again.
The FizzUp trainer recommends eating carbs the smart way by favoring carbs with a low glycemic index value and avoiding carbs found in pastries and other sweets.
Now you know that you shouldn’t completely cut carbs to get your summer body. Eat a balanced diet and keep working out with your FizzUp trainer. This is the best way to reach the body goals you set for yourself before summer gets here!