Watch Those Carbohydrates
Unlike protein, which we now know dramatically decreases our cravings, carbohydrates, especially those simple carbs, have been shown to dramatically increase our appetites.
We experience a big blood-sugar surge when our meals are primarily carbohydrates and hardly any protein or fat. This rise in blood sugar often causes mood swings, and the subsequent rapid drop in blood sugar leads to a lethargic feeling that makes many high-carb eaters just want to take a nap. Even worse, when our body’s energy reserves or glycogen stores are filled with carbs, the majority of the extra blood sugar floating around just gets converted to body fat. Carbs are our bodies’ preferred fuel source. As long as we continue eating a lot of them, our bodies won’t tap into fat stores at all. Why should they? They have all those carbs floating around. Burning body fat for energy happens when blood sugar is low.
Eating a diet too high in carbs can also lead to that bloated appearance since excess carbs tend to cause water retention. That’s why some of the high-carb proponents have a sort of puffy look and aren’t as toned and defined as their diets would suggest.
Excess dietary carbohydrates can lead to a chronically high insulin level. That, in turn, can cause insulin resistance, high cortisol levels, and, possibly, type 2 diabetes. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone—it breaks down muscle and other tissues. It is the enemy of a lean body. Moreover, high insulin levels are antagonistic to testosterone and growth hormone production. Those two substances are the body’s best muscle-building hormones. That’s why I maintain that food is only as relevant as the hormonal and biochemical pathways it affects. If you stay on a high-carbohydrate diet, you can go to the gym, work harder, and still remain a whole lot fatter.
By the way, the reason for those cravings is an evil little hormone called neuropeptide y. It signals the brain to crave more carbohydrates, and high GI dietary carbohydrates trigger this devil. Protein and fats don’t. In other words, high GI carbohydrates signal the body to want more carbs.
So to keep your cravings in check and keep your body in the fat-burning zone, eat carbs in moderation. They constitute about 30 to 40 percent of my daily calorie intake. Eat enough to keep your glycogen stores loaded, and always eat them in combination with other foods.