3 burning carb myths that need to die!!!!
Q1. Do carbohydrates make you fat?
Answer) In a calorie, controlled environment, with ample storage capacity and the right amount of exercise no!!! ... Is it that simple?
As we’ve previously mentioned peoples tolerance to carbohydrates can differ, so for most finding the right amount will be case dependent. This is where we look at ones health (stress, conditions), and daily activity in and out of the gym.
Q2. Are there good carbs and bad carbs?
Answer) There are no good or bad foods, only bad diets that lack the essential nutrients (proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals), and actually thinking this way over time has many psychological disadvantages, which can lead to future eating disorders. At the simplest level our bodies extract what’s required to optimise all bodily functions and performance, and has no clue what a bowl of ice cream is, or a sweet potato, just the nutrients they contain once digestion starts, and foods get broken down into smaller particles. Your body thinks survival..
As I've mentioned previously, simple carbohydrates aren’t bad, but on their own provide little to no satiety during, and between meals, and lack the essential nutrients required to function optimally, but may provide performance benefits when taken appropriately, when a fast acting fuel source is required, so build your knowledge, ensure you are eating plenty of nutrient dense foods, to reduce calorie requirements, and allow more wiggle room for the days that mean the most with the people you love.
The only times certain specific foods would be bad are when someone has an allergy, sensitivity, or condition such as celiac or lactose intolerance.
Q3. I’ve heard you shouldn’t eat your carbohydrates after 6pm, is this true?
Answer) Again untrue, our bodies are much smarter than we’d like to think and if you are needing food again with ample storage then you won’t get a telling off for eating at night, think performance.
If total calories, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are the same by the end of the day then for the everyday individual it doesn’t really matter when you have them, you are depleting and replenishing energy stores all the time, storing and losing fat all the time (we have storage space in the muscles, liver and blood stream).
Nutrition can then be based around performance and personal preference, but bare in mind that the total amount, and what you pair them with may have a positive and negative effect on energy levels and performance. It’s important to keep a log and assess how certain foods make you feel.
Are you CONSTANTLY fatigued?
Have a reduced or heightened appetite?
Not getting enough quality, efficient training sessions?
Here is a some things to have a look at....
Are you getting enough good quality uninterrupted hours each night?
lack of sleep may over time lead to under recovery, heightened appetite, weight gain/water retention, loss of memory, poor training performance and motor skills, sickness, an imbalance in hormones and heightened emotions,
Lack of sleep can even lead to an increase in appetite and cortisol which is our stress hormone!!
You know the deal 6-8 hours per night!!
If you are consistently under eating you will be malnourished, especially if you are not eating enough nutrient dense foods.
A lot of people just don't get or realize that what they eat plays a major role in their daily lives.
Sure there are certain vitamins and minerals and nutrients we can produce and store in the body but there are also essential vitamins and nutrients we cannot, including essential fatty acids from dietary fats, essential amino acids from dietary proteins and 13 vitamins.
Not matter what you think you are not running optimally in the gym, throughout life including family matters and work if you are not fueling your body, your life will be affected.
If dieting, or maintaining weight when very, very lean, over time lack of food and nutrients combined with poor food choices will effect you overall performance!
Lack of food will also effect sleep and increase cortisol production due to food deprivation!!
Lets face it, we all have stress in some way, shape or form, a little can be healthy, especially in times when we need fuel as cortisol's primary function is to break down energy (think nutrients to fuel training) but chronic low grade stress can cause numerous issues such as...
Lowered immunity which protects us from the outside world and aids in recovery.
Digestion - which breaks down nutrients and kills off any bugs or nasty's that get into our system.
Sleep quality (everything relates), our circadian rhythm, poor mood, increase cravings (think of the main function here), reduce satiety, increase blood pressure, lack of inelegance and hormone imbalance.
Exercise, mindfulness practice, breathing techniques and better preparation will benefit.
Trust me you do have the time, all it takes is a little practice at changing your habits!
Your either not training enough to maintain health or training too much and inefficiently while not eating adequately to support the amount you are doing over a period of time.
Either way again look at your nutrition and lifestyle choices, assess if both these factors can first support, and if not devise a plan that you can optimize through current nutritional strategies and lifestyle choices.
Why not consider a diet break???
Anytime you are not feeling 100% look at these four factors and I guarantee something is a little out of place!! If all else has failed and you are doing everything with excellence then please consult your GP.
High blood pressure or hypertension affects 26% of the
population worldwide. In the UK, 5 million people are said to be unaware they
have high blood pressure yet it affects more than 1 in 4 adults, accounts for
12% of all visits to GP’s and is one of the biggest risk factors for premature
death and disability in England. It is estimated to cost the NHS over £2
billion every year.
High blood pressure can lead to diseases including heart
disease, stroke, vascular dementia and chronic kidney disease.
So, what can we do to help reduce and prevent high blood
Reduce your sugar
intake - Reducing refined sugars and
sweetened beverages may help reduce your blood pressure. I’m not saying sugar
is bad for your health, but we must look the whole diet and if you are getting most
of your calories from refined sugars while avoiding animal proteins, dairy, fruits,
starches and vegetables then you’re not going to optimise your vitamin and
mineral intake which may affect health.
The end of the day once fully digested sugar is sugar, but
if we eat foods that contain natural occurring sugars such as fruits you’ll
also increase your daily intake of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre,
not to mention slowing down digestion and improved meal satiety.
Eat potassium rich
foods – A diet high in potassium can reduce the risk of hypertension or a
stroke and possibly prevent heart disease, heart failure and kidney disease. A dietary reference intake of 3500-4700mg per
day is recommended, but most average Americans and Brits consume only half that
while over consuming refined salt, again sodium isn’t bad and is essential to
life, and reducing or cutting completely may be just as hazardous as too much. Getting
the balance of sodium to potassium correct may be a deciding factor in whether or
not your salt consumption is helpful or harmful.
The recommended intake for sodium is 1.5-2.3g per day and by
consuming unrefined sea salt you will also be getting additional minerals such
as silicon, phosphorus and vanadium.
Potassium is present in all fruits, vegetable, meat and
fish. Other high sources included sweet and white potatoes, bananas, avocados,
parsley, milk, chocolate, beet greens, all nuts, dried apricots and bran.
Cold water fish –
There are numerous benefits of EPA and DHA, the omega 3 fatty acids found in
cold water fish, especially DHA which has been shown to help reduce blood pressure.
Consuming cold water fish 3 times per week has been shown to decrease your risk
of hypertension, and can be just as effective as taking a fish oil supplement.
Magnesium – A diet
rich in magnesium has been shown to reduce blood pressure, and one study found
significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure among
people with hypertension after taking a magnesium supplement for just 12 weeks.
The recommended intake for magnesium is 3-400mg per day. Magnesium is involved
in over 300 enzymatic functions within the body including energy production,
action of your heart muscle, formation of bones and teeth, relaxation of blood
vessels, bowel function and blood sugar regulation. Other sources of magnesium
include green leafy vegetables, avocados, almonds some beans and peas.
There are numerous other ways to prevent high blood pressure
including weight and stress management, daily exercise, adequate sleep, and relaxation
techniques such as meditation, and deep breathing.
Also, normalising vitamin D levels with exposure to
ultraviolet light “via natural sunlight or tanning beds” increases nitric oxide
production. Nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator, helping the blood vessels
to relax which in turn lowers blood pressure, but as we already know too much
sun exposure can also be harmful so there may be a benefit to consuming 1-2000iu
of additional vitamin D3, especially during the winter months. Other roles of
vitamin D include calcium and phosphorus absorption, bone and immune health, B
vitamin formation in the gut and B12 absorption via the stomach.
Nutrients are substances we humans use in large quantities,
and are needed for all bodily functions, including energy production, tissue growth
Depending on the nutrient, these substances are needed in
small or large amounts. Those that are needed in larger amounts are called
There are three macronutrients that the body requires. These
are proteins (amino acids), carbohydrates (sugars), and fats (lipids). Each of these
macronutrients provides energy in the form of calories.
In proteins, there are 4 calories per gram.
In carbohydrates, there are 4 calories per gram.
In fats, there are 9 calories per gram.
This means that if you consumed 20 grams of protein or 20g
of carbohydrates within a meal both foods would contain 40 calories each, if
you had them together the total would then become 80 calories.
Food labelling, what you need to know.
Nutrition labels can
help you choose between similar products and keep a check on the amount of
foods you are eating. This can be highly beneficial to say a diabetic who needs
to watch their overall sugar intake, or the athlete, bodybuilder or dieter
looking to track their overall calorie/macronutrient intake.
Knowing what nutrients, you are consuming can help you create
a balanced meal, making you aware of each specific nutrient within a certain
Also, being able to track specific nutrients, will allow
greater flexibility within the diet, as you’ll be able to vary food sources
daily while hitting your overall calorie target and even macronutrient, or
fibre intake. No more worrying that a food is high in fat, sugar or salt, as by
knowing your daily energy requirements you can balance each meal accordingly to
suit individual needs.
Most pre-packed foods have a nutritional label on the back
or side of the packaging. These labels include information on energy in
kilojoules (KJ), and kilocalories (Kcal), usually referred to as calories.
Labels also include information on proteins, carbohydrates,
of which sugars, fats, saturated fats, fibre, sodium (salt). Some labels are
even more specific providing information on various types of dietary fat,
vitamins and minerals. All nutrient information is provided per 100 grams and
then a recommended serving size.
Some companies also highlight the energy, fat, saturated fat
and salt content on the front of the packaging alongside the reference intake for
each, you may notice some of the information highlighted in red, amber and
green light coding, which can also help you determine if a food is high, medium
or low in a specific nutrient.
Most products will also contain an ingredients list which
will allow you to know what they contain.
The ingredients are listed in order of weight with the main
ingredients in the package first so you’ll know if a product is predominantly
sugar based, fat based etc.
Some thoughts to keep in mind,
Just because a product is low in fat, does not
make it any more nutritious as most companies will replace said fat with
additional sugars, sweeteners, and thickeners.
Once you know your overall calorie requirement don’t
be overly concerned if a food group is high in proteins, carbohydrates and fats
unless your diet is macronutrient specific or tailored to suit. Looking at your diet while understanding that
everything equates over the day, will allow you to have more flexibility.
If a product you are eating contains 20g of fat,
and labelled in red as being high, wouldn’t matter if your overall fat
allowance for the day was say 60g, you’d just tailor the diet to suit.
There are many benefits to balancing out your
meals and one’s overall nutrition, these include satiety during and between
meals, muscle protein synthesis, stable blood sugar, better digestion, nutrient
absorption and bodily functions we will get to over the next few weeks.
Remember food labelling can be off 20-25%.
Quite simply if you over consume calories and expend less
energy you’ll gain weight, or if you under consume calories you’ll not gain
quality muscle mass.
So what exactly are calories?
A calorie is a little bastard that creeps into your room at night and sews all
your clothes tighter. My closets are infested with the little shits lol.
Ok, to keep things simple a calorie is a measurement of energy.
Calories in refers to the amount of food we eat, therefore you are taking 'in'
those calories, you are taking 'in' that energy.
For instance when you eat 100g of banana your taking in around 89 calories, and
when you eat 100g of chicken breast, your taking in around 165 calories.
When your body uses energy think of this as calories out.
Everything your body does to stay alive requires energy.
These can include...
- Day to day functions and bodily maintenance.
- Food digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- Activities like walking, jogging, lifting weights, and gardening.
- Fidgeting, shivering, even during sleep as we recover.
- Your body is complex, no doubt about it. And there is a lot going on as you move,
sleep, digest and exercise throughout the day. Your body is repairing cells,
building muscle, basically keeping you alive.
Day in day out your body will utilize different types of calories in many
If you eat more calories than your body can use, you will store the excess
calories in the muscles and liver, or create new unwanted fat stores.
In theory if you eat less calories than you expend then the opposite should
happen and you should start to lose weight.
But is it really as simple as calories in vs calories out?
Let's just say there is a difference between losing weight and losing fat, and
the type of calories you consume in the form of protein, fats and
carbohydrates will also play an important role in deciding where the weight loss is actually
Other factors include;
How foods are prepared, cooked, and stored.
Ingestion (chewing), digestion (breaking down), and absorption, as well as
stress levels, gut health and physiological makeup.
Whole minimally processed foods are harder to break down thus absorbing less
calories but requiring more energy to process. Processed foods are easier
to break down meaning you'll extract more calories but burn fewer digesting as
the process is pretty much done already.
Incorrect food labelling, some as much as 20-25%.
Energy burnt at rest (RMR), daily physical activity such as walking, and weight
training (PA) and non exercise activity which includes household work,
fidgeting, thinking, standing, blinking, basically anything that doesn't
involve meaningful exercise (NEAT).
As you can see there are many different factors that influence how a calorie is
utilized within the body and its up to you to find the right balance to suit
your overall goal.
Water is one of the most important aspects of our everyday lives.
One could argue that water is the most important nutrient we actually consume
or don't consume enough of.
So why is this nutrient so important?
How much do we actually need? Lets get
down to some basics.
Water makes up around 60% of our total body weight. Two thirds are found within
our cells as intracellular fluid, and one third or the remaining is
extracellular fluid found bathing our cells.
Our muscle tissue is a little more than 70% water by weight, 64% of our skin is
water, our bones hold around 22%, and even our fat stores hold around 10%.
Extracellular fluid includes both the fluid between our cells and also the
plasma portion of our blood (where our energy is produced, proteins are
As the most abundant substance within us, water provides the body with an
environment for all other substances to be either dissolved, suspended or
bathed in water. Substances such as the macro nutrients which you may have learned
previously and electrolytes dissolve in water very well. The B vitamins and
vitamin C are also water soluble nutrients. Fats and fat soluble vitamins such
as A, D, E, K are not, and require lipids (fats) and specific proteins.
Water helps regulate our body temperature, and has the ability to absorb heat
to keep us from overheating (hypethermia) as well as keep us from over cooling
Water also provides the basis for lubricating substances found in our joints,
helping to cushion and reduce the physical stress and friction between the bone
and the joint. Water is the basic of amniotic fluid that cushions and protects
the fetus during pregnancy. Our urine, bile (breaks down fats), saliva (starts
digestive process and the breakdown of sugars), mucus, lacrimal fluid (out
tears) and digestive secretions (breakdown foods) are all water based. A
typical adult will lose as much as 2 to 3 litres of water daily,that's 0.9-1.4lbs.!
Water and the removal of waste products.
About 1 to 2 litres are lost in urine when removing waste products of our
metabolism. With every process in our body there are byproducts that can be
harmful and have to be eliminated, for instance the byproduct of protein break
down during exercise is ammonia which is then sent to the liver to be packaged
into a less harmful product which can then be excreted. Other substances in
excess of our needs include excess sodium, blood sugar, water, vitamins, and
minerals (remember we spoke about this previously?).
Sweating can also help remove extra body heat produced by normal cell
Water also helps moisten our poo, improving transit, which may reduce
constipation thus improving regularity.
Ok enough with the science stuff, let's take a look at dehydration.
As little as a 2% loss of body weight as water we can become thirsty and may
experience a slight reduction in strength. By the time we reach 4%, muscular
strength and endurance is significantly hindered. A 10% reduction is associated
with heat intolerance and general weakness. If dehydration continues life
itself becomes threatened and if we lose 20% we can become susceptible to coma
As a general rule for clients I recommend whatever you weigh in pounds in
ounces then half and convert into litres, for instance someone around 70kg
would need to consume around 2.3ltrs of water per day, that's 9 to 10
cups, Another proposed easier way of estimating water intake is to consume 1ml
for every Kcal of your diet. So, a person consuming 3500kcal a day, would have
3.5litres, before then adding in more for exercise and if doing so add around
500ml for every 30 minutes.
Where else can we get water from?
As you can see to the left we can also get water from a variety of foods such as fruits ad vegetables which will supply our bodies with the highest amounts.
Other foods such as chicken and meat contain between 60 and 70% water, cheese and bread between 35 and 40%.
Also adding water to coffee, tea, oats, and rice will also count, and although beneficial I would still use the above recommendations before counting food sources.
Can you consume too much? Can it cause harm?
Now you know the benefits of daily water consumption, with everything in life
too much of something isn't always a good thing, and excess water can do a lot
more harm than good. Hyponatremia or "insufficient sodium in the
blood" can lead to water intoxication, an illness whose symptoms may
include headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination and mental
Excess water can also mess with our electrolyte balance, and put a lot of
pressure on the kidneys where only a certain amount of fluids can be processed
at any one time. The kidneys control the amount of water, salt and other
solutes leaving the body, and every hour the kidneys can excrete around 0.8 to
1 litres of water which from the research seems safe.
This means that you can’t just endlessly knock back litres of water, be mindful, stay hydrated and keep water consistent everyday to prevent any of the above, including water retention from believe it or not a lack of.
Again a very rough guideline is
to have 500ml per half hour of exercise and then to sip water regularly throughout