Quick Note About “Safe” Starch. And While You Are Here – Eat Meat!

I’m a little up in the air about this. My gut feeling is that during times of NIMGU (that magical post workout hour when your insulin is well mannered and disciplined) it’s fine to have some starchy carbs such as rices or potato (mostly yam) since the effect of insulin resistance is out of play during that hour. Any other time? Not for me, but for my kids I would say it’s a valid way to add a small amount of carbs to the diet. Growing bodies and specifically young athletes have a requirement that is different from a full grown adult who is working at a desk all day and working out a few nights a week. My gut tells me it’s OK, but not in moderation, I think moderation is too often. I would say it’s OK rarely, maybe twice or 3 times a week the day after training. I don’t have any specific scientific support for this but what I do know is that the body of a young athlete is far better and more efficient than an over 30 or over 40 recreational athlete at dealing with a slightly elevated level of carbohydrate on an infrequent basis.

Anyway, here is the article I read today which kind of indicates that “safe” carbs aren’t really that safe and that the more you eat the worse they are.

I think it’s important to note here that we are talking about measurements of degrees. If your diet is good enough that you are debating whether or not to have 200-400 calories of sweet potato or rice then you are probably on the right track generally speaking. If you think you can have fires for lunch every day because Simon says potato is OK then you are missing the point…

..And you should put down the fry and immediately do 40 squats, 20 burpees and 15 handstand pushups.

As a bit of an afterthought I want to link the excellent article in rebuttal to the latest studies saying meat eating will lead to premature death. I cleared the air about this one with my kids, so now it’s your turn.

Gary Taubes – Science, pseudoscience, nutritional epidemiology and meat. I know, thrilling title but it’s important!]

If you are interested in a more in depth article outlining this reckless use of bad science, here you go.

R7D17 – Insulin: Don’t Kill The Messenger

Yesterday’s post was a bit of a dog’s breakfast but it got me thinking as I re-read it this morning. I really needed to find out what exactly insulin does and why it has been outed as a bad guy in the whole weight control thing. You see, most people I talk to don’t know about this at all, in fact I would say that 90% of people you talk to couldn’t tell you what insulin is or does. All people “know” is that diabetics have to take insulin to “control” their blood sugar and if someone falls down you give them a cookie. Unless you are in University and then if someone falls down you give them another beer. But what are the mechanisms, simply stated, that insulin is responsible for?

I think it’s important to state what Wikipedia says in the very first sentence of the definition:
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body”

Notice the lack of reference to protein, that’s because protein has no effect on insulin and the central reason that high protein, low carb diets are effective in treatment of metabolic disorders. The other critical piece to understanding what a benefit insulin is to us is the fact that it is a major player in the anabolic uptake of nutrients. This makes it the bodybuilder and athlete’s best friend since it is responsible to repairing tissues and building muscle through the uptake of amino acids. Understanding the method is not as critical as understanding the basic responsibility of insulin. It is not an enemy whose only job is to store body fat, in fact, it is a critical hormone in the protection, maintenance and building of muscles and health cells in the body.

This helps to explain a little what I was trying to explain yesterday. Insulin increases when you eat and when you exercise. The reason for this is so that it can transport food you eat to the body systems that need the nutrition but also to help your body absorb nutrients it needs after depleting it’s stores during exercise. After meals and after workouts is exactly when you need the most help in moving food calories into the body’s system.

I’ll stop there since I am about to get lost on another tangent.

The workout last night was short and brutal, I managed to squeeze in Pure Cardio for the first time in a long time and remembered why I loved that workout so much. You know exactly how much time is left in the workout and can push yourself hard enough to be completely exhausted when you finish. Kudos to ShaunT, this was one of his best workouts.

Refined Carbs. Why Bother?

In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

  • When you eat carbs, your blood sugar goes up. Eat gobs of carb-rich foods (bread, sugar, pasta, rice, etc. — all of which are nutrient poor, relative to meat and veggies), and your blood sugar goes up a lot.
  • In response, your body secretes insulin, a storage hormone, which takes the blood sugar out of your bloodstream and stores it for future use (in the form of glycogen in your liver and muscles), and returning you blood sugar levels to normal.
  • But your glycogen stores fill up quickly. What happens if you keep eating carbs after your tank is full? Your body senses the dangerous excess blood sugar, and pumps out a ton of extra insulin to deal with it. Your glycogen stores are still maxed out, so the extra insulin converts the carb-orific energy into body fat.
  • But now, so much insulin’s kicking around your system that it ends up driving your blood sugar too low — to the point where you experience a “blood sugar crash” (you know, like in the afternoon, after you’ve downed a big turkey sandwich and a sugary coffee drink). Your blood sugar’s low, so your body craves…(drum roll, please)…MORE CARBS. And the cycle starts again.
  • Over time, these cycles of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia wreak havoc on your metabolism, and can escalate into full-blown insulin resistance — a precursor to a parade of health horribles like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc. (We’ve previously discussed this problem — and how it escalates into full-blown insulin resistance and metabolic derangement – here.)