Friday, October 26, 2007

About Carbs

My last prep that I just did for the WNBF Nationals was a great learning experience for me. Michael Landy who wrote up my nutrition for the prep had me eating wholemeal bread, fruit, veges, oats, weetbix and fresh fruit juice and well of course protien and fats but i'm focusing on carbs right now because I had doubts about being able to come in lean enough for my comp based on the above foods.
I trusted him (knowing he had 30 years experience and knew what he was talking about), and followed his plan. My brain had to be re-programmed because I used to think that carbs ONLY make you fat, how ridiculas is that??
Having these carbs added to my daily food intake helped my body to function at it's best. I was able to build fuller muscles, I had so much energy, my mood was positive, my monthly cycle returned (until I got under 12% BF again), my skin looked better, my hair stopped falling out, so many improvements.
Since my body was now functioning correctly I was able to achieve greater results from weight training and cardio.

Now post comp I have learnt to continue eating all these foods, carbs, protein and fats, our body needs all of these.

Below is something I found on the net which I thought was interesting!

Top 15 Reasons to Avoid Low Carb, High Protein Diets

Greg Landry, M.S.

Low carb (carbohydrate), high protein diets are the latest dieting craze. However, before you jump on the band wagon, you may want to consider a few things:

1. Low carb (ketogenic) diets deplete the healthy glycogen (the storage form of glucose) stores in your muscles and liver. When you deplete glycogen stores, you also dehydrate, often causing the scale to drop significantly in the first week or two of the diet. This is usually interpreted as fat loss when it’s actually mostly from dehydration and muscle loss. By the way, this is one of the reasons that low carb diets are so popular at the moment - there is a quick initial, but deceptive drop in scale weight.

Glycogenesis (formation of glycogen) occurs in the liver and muscles when adequate quantities of carbohydrates are consumed - very little of this happens on a low carb diet.

Glycogenolysis (breakdown of glycogen) occurs when glycogen is broken down to form glucose for use as fuel.

2. Depletion of muscle glycogen causes you to fatigue easily, and makes exercise and movement uncomfortable. Research indicates that muscle fatigue increases in almost direct proportion to the rate of depletion of muscle glycogen. Bottom line is that you don't feel energetic and you exercise and move less (often without realizing it) which is not good for caloric expenditure and basal metabolic rate (metabolism).

3. Depletion of muscle glycogen leads to muscle atrophy (loss of muscle). This happens because muscle glycogen (broken down to glucose) is the fuel of choice for the muscle during movement. There is always a fuel mix, but without muscle glycogen, the muscle fibers that contract, even at rest to maintain muscle tone, contract less when glycogen is not immediately available in the muscle. Depletion of muscle glycogen also causes you to exercise and move less than normal which leads to muscle loss and the inability to maintain adequate muscle tone.

Also, in the absence of adequate carbohydrate for fuel, the body initially uses protein (muscle) and fat. the initial phase of muscle depletion is rapid, caused by the use of easily accessed muscle protein for direct metabolism or for conversion to glucose (gluconeogenesis) for fuel. Eating excess protein does not prevent this because there is a caloric deficit.

When insulin levels are chronically too low as they may be in very low carb diets, catabolism (breakdown) of muscle protein increases, and protein synthesis stops.

4. Loss of muscle causes a decrease in your basal metabolic rate (metabolism). Metabolism happens in the muscle. Less muscle and muscle tone means a slower metabolism which means fewer calories burned 24 hours-a-day.

5. Your muscles and skin lack tone and are saggy. Saggy muscles don't look good, cause saggy skin, and cause you to lose a healthy, vibrant look (even if you’ve also lost fat).

6. Some proponents of low carb diets recommend avoiding carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, carrots, etc. because of they are high on the glycemic index - causing a sharp rise in insulin. Certain carbohydrates have always been, and will always be the bad guys: candy, cookies, baked goods with added sugar, sugared drinks, processed / refined white breads, pastas, and rice, and any foods with added sugar. These are not good for health or weight loss.

However, carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain breads and pastas, and brown rice are good for health and weight loss. Just like with proteins and fats, these carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation. Large volumes of any proteins, fats or carbohydrates are not conducive to weight loss and health.

The effect of high glycemic foods is often exaggerated. It does matter, but to a smaller degree than is often portrayed. Also, the total glycemic effect of foods is influenced by the quantity of that food that you eat at a sitting. Smaller meals have a lower overall glycemic effect. Also, we usually eat several types of food at the same time, thereby reducing the average glycemic index of the meal, if higher glycemic foods are eaten.

Also, glycemic index values can be misleading because they are based on a standard 50 grams of carbohydrate consumed. It wouldn't take much candy bar to get that, but it would take four cups of carrots. Do you usually eat four cups of carrots at a meal?

Regular exercisers and active people also are less effected by higher glycemic foods because much of the carbohydrate comsumed is immediately used to replenish glycogen stores in the liver and muscle.

By the way, if you're interested in lowering insulin levels, there is a great way to do that - exercise and activity. To receive my article via email, "Your 8 Hormones and Weight Loss", send email to:

7. Much of the weight loss on a low carb, high protein diet, especially in the first few weeks, is actually because of dehydration and muscle loss.

8. The percentage of people that re-gain the weight they've lost with most methods of weight loss is high, but it's even higher with low carb, high protein diets. This is primarily due to three factors:

A. You have lost muscle. With that comes a slower metabolism which means fewer calories are burned 24 hours-a-day. A loss of muscle during the process of losing weight is almost a guarantee for re-gaining the lost weight, and more.

B. You re-gain the healthy fluid lost because of glycogen depletion.

C. It's difficult to maintain that type of diet long-term.

D. You have not made a change to a long-term healthy lifestyle.

9. Eating too much fat is just not healthy. I know you've heard of people whose blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides have decreased while on a low carb, high protein diet. This often happens with weight loss, but it doesn't continue when you're on a diet high in fat.

There are literally reams of research over decades that clearly indicates that an increase in consumption of animal products and/or saturated fat leads to increased incidence of heart disease, strokes, gall stones, kidney stones, arthritic symptoms, certain cancers, etc. For example, in comparing countries with varying levels of meat consumption, there is a direct relationship between the volume of meat consumption in a country and the incidence of digestive cancers (stomach, intestines, rectal, etc.).

Fat is certainly necessary, and desirable in your diet, but they should be mostly healthy fats and in moderation. Manufactured / synthetic "low fat" foods with lots of added sugar are not the answer. Neither are manufactured / synthetic "low carb" foods with artificial sweeteners or added fat. By the way, use of artificial sweeteners has never been shown to aid in weight loss and they may pose health problems.

According to Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, "In my experience, unless you're willing to throw out decades of research, you cannot ignore that diets chronically high in saturated fats are linked to heart disease," Dr. Ayoob is also a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association and says that low carb, high protein diets are an attempt at a quick fix and not a long-term lifestyle change.

10. As someone recently told me, "it must work - people are losing weight". People that are truly losing fat on low carb, high protein diets, are doing so because they are eating fewer calories - that's the bottom line. There is no magic - the same can be done on a healthy diet.

11. Low carb diets are lacking in fiber. Every plant-based food has some fiber. All animal products have no fiber. A lack of fiber increases your risk for cancers of the digestive track (because transit time is lengthened) and cardiovascular disease (because of fibers effect on fat and cholesterol). It also puts you at a higher risk for constipation and other bowel disorders.

12. Low carb diets lack sufficient quantities of the the many nutrients / phytonutrients / antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, necessary for health and aiding in prevention of cancer and heart disease. In fact, you need these nutrients even more so when you're consuming too much fat as is often the case on a low carb high protein diet.

13. Amercans already consume more than twice the amount of protein needed. Add to that a high protein diet and you have far too much protein consumption. By the way, most people don't realize that all fruits, all vegetables, all whole grains, and all legumes also contain protein. Animal products contain larger quantities of protein, but that may not be a good thing.

Excess dietary protein puts you at a higher risk for many health problems: gout (painful joints from high purine foods which are usually high protein foods), kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis (excess dietary protein causes leeching of calcium from the bones). By the way, countries with lower, healthier intakes of protein also have a decreased incidence of osteoporosis.

14. Low carb, high protein diets cause an unhealthy physiological state called ketosis, a type of metabolic acidosis. You may have heard the phrase, "fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate". Excess acetyl CoA cannot enter the Krebs Cycle (you remember the old Krebs Cycle) due to insufficient OAA. In other words, for fat to burn efficiently and without production of excess toxic ketones, sufficient carbohydrate must be available. Ketosis can lead to many health problems and can be very serious at it’s extreme.

15. Bad breath. Often called "keto breath" or "acetone breath", it’s caused by production of acetones in a state of ketosis.

So why the low carb, high protein craze? I believe there are several reasons.

A. Weight loss (mostly muscle and muscle fluid) is often rapid during the first few weeks. This causes people to think they’re losing fat rapidly. B. It gives you "permission" to eat the "bad foods": bacon, eggs, burgers, steak, cheese, etc., and lots of fat. C. Many see it as the new "magic" they've been looking for, although it's been around, in various forms, since the 1960's.

The good news is that there is a very healthy way to lose weight, feel energetic, and to greatly increase your chances of keeping it off. But that's another article.

Get movin'! :)


Blogger Alicia said...

Great post Deb. My diet is very similar and I had the same issues to start (ie as to whether or not I will come in lean enough next year), but everything has been positive so far - I'm fuller, happier and have stacks more energy :) Focusing on the good carbs (oats, wholegrains, etc) does make a huge difference xo

3:35 PM  
Blogger LizN said...

Amen to your post Deb. Carbs are definitely not the devil incarnate. In fact I don't take out complex carbs at all in preparing my athletes. Shannon is proof positive of what good nutrition will do.

LIz ;)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Charlotte Orr said...

Hi Deb, great post! Glad to hear you have found yummy healthy foods that work well for you precomp. Were you cycling your carbs prior to your show, or having the same amount each day but in small quantities? Have a great weekend!

11:28 PM  
Blogger Claudine said...

Thank you for all this information! I'll pass it around, its very helpfull! xxx

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Deb, thanks for that.

I for one cannot function without my carbs and there would be no way I could get on stage every day and do what I do if I didn't eat them. I know my body needs them.

Also I remember you blogging that you felt heavier before your comp, going through your pics honey, you don't look heavy. I am amazed at the size of your waist. You looked awesome. Keep up the great work and it's great to hear your body is functioning properly again. I din't realise you were experiencing hair loss etc. It would be educational for us all to hear about these experiences so we can be knowledgeable.

Take care xx

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deb thanks for sharing this experience honey, this is what I like even for competitive bodybuilding. There are better ways at getting what we want; and most of all staying healthy for real. Love u hun, you said it all in the first few paragraphs. SHells xoo

11:13 AM  
Blogger Antigone said...

Hello hot stuff :)
Wow your legs are amazing!!! But the as i wass reading i got to pics of your fantastic Vtaper WOW talk about HOT!!!!
Congratulations with your comp hun your are doing so well, you just focus and go full steam ahead :)
Keep at it hun your amazing :)

2:17 PM  
Blogger little rene said...

Hi Deb

That was a really interesting read. It is great to read research that reaffirms that it is possible to look fantastic AND eat a healthy and varied diet that is maintainable.

I also feel fantastic when I am eating a variety of healthy carbs and I always seem to get a lot of compliments relating to my skin and the whites of my eyes.

Thank God for people out there like this nutritionalist and Liz Nelson. Hopefully slowly but surely the word will spread and people (like my treasured best friend) will get off these ridiculous low carbs diets and enjoy carbs in moderation again.

Have a nice day :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Hiya Deb, fantastic post. I hang my head in shame as I am one of those ppl who have lived by a low carb diet. For a bit over 2 years now too. Time to re-train the brain!!


3:21 PM  

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