Are carbs bad for you?
The topic of eating carbs usually sparks a debate in the health and fitness space depending on which side you’re in.
Are they bad for you? Are they antithetical to health? Or, are carbs good for you? I’m gonna break it all down in this video.
Are Carbs Bad For You?
Not all carbs are created equal.
Much like not all calories are created equal. The problem with the majority of carbs the average person consumes is it tends to be processed.
For context, the average North American consumes a mind blowing 500-600 grams of highly processed carbs every day. Which is just metabolically devastating.
Because processing carbs takes out a lot of the satiety signals that our bodies look for to tell us to stop eating.
The second stomach phenomenon is a perfect example of this. You seemingly always have room for dessert even if you’re already full from dinner.
Same goes for liquid sugar. Because it doesn’t activate your satiety mechanisms.
The Problem With Liquid Sugar
Now, let’s actually start with liquid calories. Because there’s really no place for them in your daily diet if you wanna be a healthy and happy human being.
This also includes sugary alcoholic drinks and beer. They don’t call it a beer belly for nothing.
A 20 ounce bottle of Coke for example has a whopping 65 grams of sugar. Which is about 16 teaspoons.
For context, the human body contains around 5 litres of blood. But only 4 grams of glucose, which is less than a teaspoon of sugar, circulates in the blood of an average person.
And a sophisticated control system is in place to maintain blood glucose constant. The human body runs a pretty tight shift. You’re basically throwing a wrench in that process by drinking a can of coke.
If you abuse this process and constantly eat the other foods I’m about to mention, that’s how you develop pre diabetes. 1 in 2 American adults have it.
Now, juice still seems to get a health halo from the masses. We give this stuff to kids all the time.
Well, 20 ounces of orange juice isn’t far behind compared to Coke with 56 grams of sugar for a whopping 14 teaspoons. You’re basically drinking coke with some vitamins when you drink juice.
That amount of sugar is gonna hyper stimulate insulin, which is your storing hormone. It also damages leptin which is the hormone that sends a signal to your body that you’re full.
Long story short, liquid calories messes up the communication between your brain and your body.
If you really want some fruit juice, eat a piece of fruit. Otherwise, that glass of orange juice is gonna kick your metabolism in the junk.
And that’s the biggest issue with juice. If you ever buy bottled juice, it’ll say that it contains 6 oranges in a tiny bottle. My question is, who eats 6 oranges in one sitting? The serving size is way too much.
The Problem With Carbs – Gluten
Now, let’s talk about something that’s commonly found in a lot of processed carbs like bread and pasta.
A recent study published in the peer reviewed journal BMC biochemistry found that digested gluten could literally block the ability for leptin to bind to leptin receptors.
It was a dose dependent response as well. The more gluten was present, the more leptin was blocked.
In fact, the amount of gluten eaten in a typical meal of bread or pasta was found to reduce leptin binding by up to 50%.
Again, leptin is one of the key hormones that sends a signal to your body that you’re full. It’s one of the big players in terms of controlling your body set weight, along with insulin.
It’s been called the “obesity hormone” or “fat hormone” — but also the “starvation hormone.”
Now you might be wondering, how could the Italians eat so much bread and pasta and not lead the planet in obesity rates? For starters, they use a different type of flour.
The most common wheat plant in the U.S. is called dwarf wheat. Europe also have vastly different rules when it comes to agriculture and using GMO products.*
Next, let’s look at the next tier of processed carbs. Food companies have manufactured a completely new category of foods that barely scratches the mechanoreceptors in our gut. I like to call them Frankenfoods.
These Frankenfoods easily enable us to consume hundreds if not thousands of calories without signalling satiety.
I’m talking about puffed snacks like cheetos, doritos, funions, rice puffs, cocoa puffs, and Lay’s potato chips. Their marketing brag is, “Bethca can’t eat just one.”
All those foods induce a phenomenon called vanishing caloric density. You put it in your mouth, bite down on it for a couple of crunches, and then it seems to almost just melt into nothingness.
If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it. You can just keep eating it forever.
And without getting any physical bulk from the food, there’s very little reason for your brain to tell you to stop eating.
This is why you can’t just have one Dorito chip. You get a taste of this highly palatable food. Next thing you know, you’re staring at the bottom of the bag.
You have to realize that the biggest companies out there have invested millions of dollars in food research on how to short circuit our brains.
It’s also a double whammy for our metabolic health because a lot of these frankenfoods also contain industrial seed oils like canola and soybean oil which are highly inflammatory. It’s just bad news bears.
If we look at other macronutrients like protein, it’s a completely different story.
For starters, protein is an essential macronutrient. At the same time, the are no essential carbs. And even though protein also triggers insulin, it also activates other hormonal switches that prevents over eating.
For example, it also activates glucagon, the counter regulatory hormone for insulin which signals fat cells to be released to get burned for energy.
It also activates Peptide YY (PYY) which is one of the key satiety hormones found in your gut.
If you eat bacon and eggs in the morning which is mostly fat and protein, it tends to keep you full way longer than if you were to eat toast with jam.
You eat the latter and come mid morning, you’re probably munching on a granola bar.
When you’re thinking about weight loss, you have to think about hormones first. Because the calories on all foods can be exactly the same. But it can trigger completely different metabolic pathways in your body.
Are Carbs Good For You?
And I’m not saying you should NEVER eat carbs. Not all carbs are bad.
There’s been a lot of societies that have lived primarily on carbs. The Kitavans in the Pacific are a perfect example of this.
They eat a diet of root vegetables, coconut, fruit, vegetables and fish and have undetectable levels of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or obesity. 69% of their calories come from carbs, 21% from fat and 10% from protein.
The Okinawans in Japan are another great example. Japan has the highest rate of centenarians per capita on the planet. Even though they eat a lot of white rice. Asians have been eating white rice for centuries.
How could that be? It’s because they take out the bran and germ which contains all the anti nutrients in rice, they eat a lot of sprouted and fermented food, and they also eat a lot of probiotics also known as resistant starch.
What Is Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is indigestible and passes through the small intestine to take up residence in the colon. It acts as a fuel source for healthful bacteria in the gut.
Examples of resistant starch are green bananas and cooked and cooled russet potatoes and white rice.
The molecular composition of the latter two actually changes from carbs into resistant starch when it’s eaten cold.
In the same manner, a green banana is mostly resistant starch. But as it ripens, it converts the resistant starch into carbs as it turns into a yellow banana.
You can also see another example of this effect in the glycemic index. When you eat white bread, insulin spikes way up.
But if you ate eat beans which is also mostly carbs, the glycemic response is a lot lower.
Most natural foods are like that. You don’t see that huge blood sugar and insulin spike that you get from processed foods. It really only starts to go sideways when we start tampering with whole foods.
The processing makes the poison. Basically, the more processing your food goes through, the worse it is for you.
Also, it’s not just about the food that you eat and the amount of processing it goes though. It’s also the frequency that you eat them when it comes to optimizing hormones.
Focusing on those two things is important because it leads you away from just strictly counting calories.
When you do that, you’ll realize that some foods are more fattening than others. Not all calories are created equal.
Cookies are more fattening than eggs. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that.
The Problem With Just Counting Calories
But then you get the calorie counting zealots saying that low calorie ice cream is the same as steak. All common sense goes out the window.
They say that it’s all about the calories. You just need to be on a calorie deficit. And you should check out this video where I debunk that weight loss model.
But plain and simple, of you look at scientific studies, simply counting calories and treating all calories equal does not work long term.
It might work at the beginning. But the human body is an adaptation machine. Because it’s not the number of calories, it’s what your body does with those calories.
But if you just cut calories and this is still conventional wisdom today. And usually the first thing to go is fat, because fat is calorically dense. And this is when people get into highly processed low fat version of foods.
You eat less calories and therefore, that should translate to body fat lost.
But that’s not what happens. If you eat 500 less calories, your body could simply decide to burn 500 less calories to match that deficit. And that’s your basal metabolic rate.
And it’s not a matter of thermodynamics. Because that assumes that your basal metabolic rate stays stable. That is if your BMR is 2000 calories a day today, you go on a 500 calorie deficit, you’ll still burn 2000 calories 6 months from now?
That’s bro science.
If you look at any basic research on the human metabolism, your body will burn less calories as a survival mechanism. Your metabolism can actually go up or down by 40%.
So cutting 500 calories a day which is a pretty common number because it should translate to a pound of fat lost in a week does not work long term.
Because if you don’t change the hormonal response in your body. Different foods contain different hormonal instructions.
Your body will simply adapt and burn 500 calories less and you won’t lose body fat. Worse, you actually lose muscle.
Again, it’s not the total amount of calories, it’s what your body does with those calories. And that depends on hormones. Any overfeeding study will prove that.
Because the entire human body runs on hormones. Those are the instructions that we give to our body and it can either promote health or sickness.
That is, for the context of this video, one of your main jobs is to keep insulin moderated because it’s the hormone that controls your bodyweight.
At the same time, to eat foods that trigger your satiety hormones. Weight loss in its very essence isn’t about counting calories, it’s about controlling hunger.
Want To Eat Carbs? Timing Matters
Timing also matters. The best time to consume carbs is after a workout because that’s when your muscle suitcases are open. The carbs are used to top up your depleted glycogen stores.
Muscle pays for the dance. Generally speaking, the more muscle you have, the more carbs you can eat. This is why muscle is your metabolic currency.
In a perfect world, you wanna keep your carbs under 50 grams per meal so you don’t have a robust insulin response. Carbs really only become problematic if it disrupts homeostasis.
Just remember that food is information, not just a mathematical equation. Calories matter but hormones are more important.
As always, if this was helpful, share it with a friend who could benefit from it as well!
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