Carb Myths – Are you making this mistake?

A member asked me the other day about something they read on not mixing carbs and fats together in meals. Now, let's ignore the practicality, or lack of, with this and look at the theory behind it. 

Proponents of this absurd method say that when we eat carbs we raise insulin levels, which is true. And seeing as insulin is a storage hormone if we eat fat with carbs, they say we'll store fat. Also true.

But what they ignore is the fact that when we eat ANYTHING we raise insulin. Insulin is a storage hormone and when we eat a decent meal we need to store most of the nutrients we are taking in. We'll use some of what we eat very quickly but for the most part we need to store protein, carbs and fats for use later on.

The issue arises when we are regularly eating more than we are burning off and end up storing excess fat leading to weight gain. 

There's another theory that when we add fat to a high carb meal we slow down the digestion of said meal leading to a more subtle increase in insulin and blood sugar, therefore reducing fat storage. It's the exact opposite of not mixing carbs and fats!!

Again this is completely missing the point. When we eat we must store the food to be used later on. That's part and parcel of our metabolism.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make with nutrition is isolating individual foods and trying to blame them for lack of progress.

What helps many of our members at SF is what I call the birds eye view approach. 

Here's an example. John eats some cake, alright a lot of cake. John thinks cake is fattening and will ruin his efforts. John feels guilty and eats more cake washed down with some crisps and chocolate. John weighs himself the next day and has gained weight. John is pissed off and orders pizza. John gives up on his weight loss efforts.

Looking at the idea of cake being fattening what if John only ate 300 calories worth of cake? And he ate nothing else the entire day? Seeing as he knows he burns 3000 cals a day to keep him functioning, 300 calories is a tenth of his requirements and he'll actually lose weight. Cake has now become part of a plan in which John loses weight.

On the flip side John has eaten 3000 calories matching his daily output. He then eats 300 calories worth of broccoli, this means he's eaten more than he's burned off and will gain weight. Broccoli has made him fat!

Now, neither cake nor broccoli did anything on their own. It's the bigger picture we need to look at. The birds eye view.

In the cake binge example it's the reaction to eating cake that causes the weight gain, not the cake on its own. And with the broccoli it's the accumulation of calories that causes the weight gain.

1 food, 1 meal or even 1 day can't make or break your results. Especially when you look at what and how much you've eaten throughout the day and more importantly throughout the week.

This is the birds eye view approach. I've used myself as an example because I know my numbers. I'm lucky, I get 3000 calories a day to play with but I've trained for 20 years to have that luck. 

The same holds true at any number of calories. Take 2000 calories a day which is a number used for the average female on most nutrition labels. That's 14000 a week. 300, 500 or even 1000 extra unplanned calories can be easily compensated for at other times in the week. But they key with the birds eye approach is to plan to eat the foods you do like rather than resist the urges to eat them. Resistance is futile as I'm sure you're aware.

You can plan to eat extra one day and less another day. The great thing about planning to eat what you fancy is it means you're less likely to go off on a cake binge like John did.

About the Author John O'C

John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.

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