A couple of readers sent me links to this article, titled “Why You Should Get Over Your Fear of Carbs.” Naturally, it’s all about the wonders of carbohydrates — you know, the only macronutrient we eat more of now than we did 30 years ago. Boy, we sure got slim and healthy in the meantime, didn’t we?
Here are some excerpts:
Combine carbs with a protein. Combining a protein with a carb not only fills you up, but it lowers the overall glycemic index (the GI, a popular way to measure the speed that carbs enter the bloodstream in the form of glucose or blood sugar).
Of course combining a carbohydrate with a protein lowers the overall glycemic index! That’s because most protein foods have a low glycemic index. Newsflash … diluting scotch with water lowers the overall alcohol percentage, too.
If the choice is between a large plate of pasta or a small portion of pasta and some meat, the pasta-meat combo will have a lower glyemic index. But here’s a better option: skip the pasta and eat your meat with a salad or some green vegetables. Then you won’t have to worry about the glycemic index.
Eat carbs more often! While the conventional approach to dieting teaches you how to omit meals, the smarter approach is to make sure you do not miss meals. And it gets better. Eating a carb-protein meal 4 times per day rather than 3 helps keep blood sugar levels stabilized.
Well, yeah, after the carbs you had at your last meal spike your insulin and lead to a drop in blood sugar, eating again will in fact raise your blood sugar. That’s why people who eat sugar and starch end up craving between-meal snacks. Eating those snacks is treating the symptom, not the cause … kind of like the drunks who keep drinking to avoid a hangover.
Research has demonstrated that regulating blood sugar levels regulates hormonal secretions which results in optimal fat burning.
Which is exactly why you shouldn’t be eating carbs and sending your blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride, you (expletive deleted … another expletive deleted … wow, that one surprised even us censors)! If you skip the carbs, your body will make blood sugar from protein on an as-needed basis, which keeps it naturally regulated.
Not only this, but carbs must be present in the system for the chemical process of fat-burning to work.
I’m trying to find the perfect word to describe my reaction to this one … got it: AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!! What the heck is she basing this on?! Carbs raise insulin, and insulin blocks the fat-burning process. When you burn carbs for fuel, you also release the glycerol molecules that combine with fatty acids to form triglycerides — the only form in which fat can be stored in your adipose tissue.
If you believe her, try this interesting experiment: don’t eat anything for two weeks. See if the total lack of carbohydrates in your system prevents you from burning any fat. By the way, I knew some body-builders in high school and college, and every Jack one of them went on a zero-carb diet to get cut before a tournament — and it worked.
Eat carbs at every meal. Believe it or not, this is a healthier approach because you will stabilize blood sugar and prevent the urge to binge later. Skipping carbs at a meal almost always leads you to make up for it later; usually in the form of late-night cookies.
At the risk of repeating myself, what the heck is she basing this on? Skipping carbs at a meal means you’ll produce less insulin and enable your body to burn fat for fuel. You’ll be less hungry, not more. I sometimes go eight hours without eating after a fat-and-protein meal because I’m just not hungry. Even the fat-phobic “eat your grains” nutritionists admit that people on low-carb diets usually end up eating less. That’s why they came up with the “Sure, you’ll lose weight, but you’ll die of a heart attack” defense.
This is because the brain needs the glucose from carbs for fuel and if it doesn’t get more within 4 or 5 hours, your body has no choice but to break down lean body tissues (like muscles) for fuel.
Hmmm, I guess that explains how I managed to gain several pounds of muscle after starting a weight-lifting regimen while skipping carbs almost entirely.
The brain does in fact need some glucose. But it doesn’t need to get any of it from dietary carbohydrates. Your body can easily convert dietary protein to glucose as needed. And of course, your brain will happily run largely on the ketones that are produced when you burn fat for fuel. So eat your protein and fat, and don’t worry about your brain treating your muscles like a 24-hour diner.
Eat carbs late at night. Yes this is just as important as the rest of your meals. And go ahead and eat dinner even if it is late. Starving yourself or skipping meals slows the metabolism and let’s face it — it isn’t fun to starve!
Everybody sing along: sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at supper time. Eating carbs all day long — including late at night — is how we became a nation of type II diabetics. And restricting carbs is the most effective way to treat type II diabetics. Many can even live without insulin injections if they give up the carbs.
She’s right in saying that starving yourself will slow your metabolism. But skipping the carbs isn’t starving yourself — and eating too many carbs stores calories as fat, which starves your cells of fuel even if you have eaten. That’s why people eat more these days; they’re storing too many calories.
Don’t overdo it at one time. Your body isn’t a cash register. It doesn’t add up your total at the end of the day. It only cares how much you eat at a single meal. If you eat one entire large deep-dish pizza, your body converts the carb overload to fat storage. However if you only eat two light slices now and two slices for dinner 4 hours later, you won’t overload the bloodstream with glucose at one time, thus you will keep your fat-burning going.
Okay, let’s see … 1) carbs turn to glucose and overloading the bloodstream with glucose leads to fat storage, but 2) without carbs, you can’t burn fat. Somebody with a degree in biochemistry please explain to me how these two statements can both be true.
Yes, I agree that overloading the body with carbs will cause a major insulin spike and signal the body to store fat. If you’re going to eat 300 grams of carbohydrates in a day, by all means, spread them out. But feeding your body a cup and a half of sugar over the course of a day simply isn’t necessary.
The author is, of course, a professional nutritionist. But there’s hope: I scanned the comments posted in response to her article, and a lot of people called her on this nonsense. Nutritionists are still feeding us a load of bologna, but plenty of people are simply refusing to swallow it anymore.