In the first part All About: Carbs - Part 1 I shared the basics of carbohydrates including what they are, how they’re used in the body, how they’re digested, and how much we need. Today in part II I’m focusing on dysfunctions with carbohydrate metabolism, food sources of carbohydrates, types, diet using and abusing carbohydrates, and storage of carbohydrates (which I touched on in part I).
DYSFUNCTIONS WITH CARBOHYDRATE METABOLISMI’m just skimming the surface here on some types of dysfunctions with carbohydrate metabolism, please comment below if you’d like to see a post more in depth about any one area.
When I work clinically, it was part of my daily routine seeing patients who had diabetes or with a pre-diabetic diagnosis and lab work; and this is not something that just presents itself in clinical settings, there are millions of people walking around daily with diabetes and surprisingly some don’t even know it. Nowadays, many of my clients are generally “healthy” yet looking to optimize their health and take it to the highest point both aesthetically and internally. A big switch from counseling individuals on carbohydrate counting. Many of the principles I use with my elite and general clientele comes down to similar concepts- controlling carbohydrate and macronutrient intake to benefit your body internally and make carbohydrate metabolism (amongst other things) more efficient.
HOW TO IMPROVE INSULIN SENSITIVITY
There are several things to do to overall improve insulin sensitivity in the body- think of sensitivity as being a good thing. You want your body to have a normal “sensitivity”, i.e. react well and in tune with your body and the amount of carbohydrates it encounters versus being “resistant”. First and foremost, the best way to improve insulin sensitivity is to change the diet including more complex carbohydrates in comparison to refined or processed carbohydrates (think of more vegetables, fruits, and fiber and less white sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods). Another effective way to improve insulin sensitivity is to get up and move! That’s right, commit to an exercise regime of both cardio and weight resistance exercises and do it consistently. Lifestyle factors such as stress management and getting enough sleep are also important to improve insulin sensitivity.
There’s a time and place for refined and simple carbohydrates, to be able to control refined and simple carbohydrates and use them strategically is key. Mostly by focusing on how they can be incorporated with your workout and training schedule in mind and the rest of your meal plan. There’s much more I can say and coach my clients on about insulin sensitivity and it’s role in fat loss, but for the basics this is sufficient!
TYPES OF CARBOHYDRATES
I discussed the basic building blocks of carbohydrates, mono-, oligo-, and poly- saccarhides; but there are a couple types of carbohydrates that we typically group together. Refined or simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. I typically do not use refined and simple carbohydrates synonymously- “refined” is a type of carbohydrate that has been stripped of it’s nutrition through processing and is also “simple” and digests quickly in the body raising blood sugar; whereas a simple carbohydrate doesn’t always mean it’s been refined. Fruit is an example of a simple carbohydrate due to it’s sugar content and how quickly the body digests it and is far from being refined!
WHOLE FOOD SOURCES OF CARBOHYDRATES
The Emma Olliff lifestyle is all about focusing on all forms of carbohydrates, those that are closest to nature like dark leafy greens, fruits, grains, beans, and legumes. There IS such thing as enjoying carbohydrates, using them strategically when your goals change for fat/weight loss, and enjoying a variety of them daily to meet your needs.
I’m asked so often what my thoughts are on some of the following diets I’m mentioning, and in a nutshell those questions can generally be answered with this: “If a diet is something that can’t be maintained, can’t be envisioned in 5 years as part of your life, socially isolates you from others or activities you enjoy, or is harmful to your mental/physical/emotional health.- than this is NOT a lifestyle”. Many diets you hear are either high carbohydrate promoting or low carbohydrate promoting- where is the middle ground? We weren’t designed to completely abstain from carbohydrates, nor were we designed to have so much that we’re eating pounds of fruit at every meal. I simply ask you all this, next time you try to “go low carb” or go “801010” envision yourself in 5 years. If it’s something you can effortlessly and enjoyable maintain, then go for it; if not, reevaluate the reasons why following that dogma in the first place (off soapbox).
FOOD MOVEMENTS PICKING ON CARBOHYDRATES
I hope you find this guide helpful and please do comment below with more topics you’d like me to cover about carbohydrates in part III.
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!