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Carbs….My take on them part 2.

Hopefully you read the first part of this discussion which was my take on carbs. There is much more that can be talked about, which I will do to hopefully shed some light on the subject that is carb consumption.

The first thing to look at is that not all carbs are made equal. I mentioned before that if you are going to consume carbs, the best sources are that of single ingredient foods like rice or potatoes.

Some carbs are very long and complicated like sweet potato. A complex carb means that it takes a long time for your body to digest it and turn it into single units that the body is able to absorb. The single unit of carbohydrate is glucose or simply put sugar. All carbs that are in the blood stream doing their job have to be in the form of sugar. Therefore,

if you eat sugar in its basic form i.e table sugar, it is rapidly absorbed. The faster the sugar/carb is able to be digested and absorbed, the faster it makes insulin rise. This can be a good thing, sometimes, (I will explain later) but on the whole, and especially for fat loss, you do not want to spike insulin as this ultimately ends in fat storage. Plainly put avoid simple sugars and consume complex carbs,

Next, if you veer away from whole food carbs and rely on more processed foods you get a similar issue. The more processing a carb has been through the more refined it gets. Take for example, a whole-grain piece of wheat that has been grown in a field and has just been harvested. This is a complex carbohydrate. It has a very long chain of sugars all strung together that need a great deal of digestion. It is also bound tightly to fibre, proteins and fats. The grain is then ground, bleached, had the fibre removed. the proteins denatured, dehydrated, and then baked. The end result is white bread. The carbs in white bread are now almost as simple as table sugar. In essence, the grain was pre-digested and is now a rapidly absorbing simple sugar. It is the same with many cereals, baked goods and ready meals etc. The further they look from when they are grown, the more processing they’ve had, and the worse they are for you.

Now you know which carbs to have you have to decide when to have them. If your goal is to put muscle on and you’re not too fussed as to a little extra love handle, then have them in every meal. If you’re new to exercising and you’re main goal is fat loss then it’s a little more prescriptive.

I mentioned before about insulin sensitivity and earning your carbs. Most people need to re-set your insulin sensitivity so you are able to deal with carbs better in the future. Secondly, if you’re basically sedentary, then your need for carbs are lower than a naturally more physically active person. Here is a course of action I would prescribe to get you back on track.

Set your default level of food. This is eating 5 times per day. This will teach your body to recognise regular meal times and learn to feel hungry and full again at the proper times. Your default food should be some meat or fish around, a palm size portion, and some vegetables (not underground veg like potatoes) i.e broccoli, asparagus, green beans. At the same time start initiating your workout plan. I’d recommend weights 2-3 times per week.

After doing this exclusively for around 3 weeks you should notice a difference. You should also start to want more food. Next look to add in some carbs in the meal before, and after your training. I.e If you train at 6pm then eat some carbs with your meal at 4pm and at 8pm. This is to boost your metabolism and give you more energy during training, allow you to work harder and recover better.

As you begin to improve you may add a little more in every few weeks. Your lean muscle mass will increase and your body fat will start to reduce. Try to include more exercise then steadily introduce more carbs. You will eventually find a point where you body might start to add a little fat. At this point do not increase food further. You may choose to add more exercise in or swap some carbs for fats.

The key to all of this is consistency and being aware of what you’re eating and what you’re doing. If you manage your food then you can manage your shape. If you hit a point where you have lost enough body fat and have gained enough muscle that you fell you just want to manage your weight, then, default to your 5 protein and veg meals and stack your carbs around your most active parts of your day. For most that is 9am-5pm. Try to consume mainly fats and proteins for breakfast and your evening meal as this will control unwanted fat gain.

I know it sounds complicated, and in truth it can be. My take home message to this is to manage food intake, avoid processed foods, train as often as you can stick to, consume carbs when you need them. If you follow this you will improve. For me, I train 4 times per week, I eat carbs with every meal. I have nothing processed. I stack the majority of my carbs before during and after my workouts. I have simple sugars during and after my workout to force an insulin spike to encourage recovery. I consume around 4000kcals per day without fail. When I want to drop fat; I add some extra exercise and trim some calories. It is very easy if you pay attention and stay consistent.

I hope this helps with your goals. If you have any questions please contact me at

Keep on liftin’ Ali ‘Fat Al’ Stewart

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