So, in light of the Frozen Chosen upon us again, I’m going to drop a little knowledge on you to help meet your goals for the challenge. One of the biggest questions I get is what carbs to eat at a meal, mainly “can I eat this?” or “what will happen if I eat this?” I could go into a list of what each specific food will likely do to your body, but that would take more time than I have to put forth. However, do not fret, I will provide you with some facts so you can decide on your own.
Let me say first of all, no food is bad for you. Poison is bad for you. If your body can process a substance and use it for nutrients, it is not bad. With that being said, there are foods that will hinder your progress towards your goals. Case in point, it is almost impossible to lose 20 pounds eating cake and ice cream. Notice I say “almost impossible.” I can already see you scratching your head thinking, “how is this possible?” Well, here are some facts.
As most of you know, our body is controlled by hormones. Whether it’s working out at the gym, or digesting food, or getting intimate with a significant other, hormones control all actions of the body. In terms of nutrition, insulin and glucagon are the two hormones that affect how much glucose is in the blood (aka blood sugar). Insulin is used to take glucose out of the blood, while glucagon is used to put glucose back in. So let me breakdown how your body works with glucose. Your body tries to maintain anywhere from 80 – 120 mg/dL of glucose within the blood stream. So, once food is broken down and absorbed by the body, the glucose is then placed in the blood stream. The problem arises when too much glucose enters the blood, which is called hyperglycemia. Your body counteracts this when the pancreas secretes insulin which then takes out the sugar and stores it into various parts of your body, usually the gut, waist and legs, until the glucose levels are within that optimum range. The same thing happens when your levels get too low. The pancreas will release glucagon to pull that stored glucose out so the body can still function. This is why diabetics get physically weak and their mental status is altered because there isn’t enough sugar to function properly.
So now that we know what the body does with glucose once it is taken from food, lets breakdown what foods have a lot of sugar. One of the easiest ways is to determine the glycemic index (GI). You can google this for the GI value for just about every food. All foods are rated from 0 – 100 based on how the particular food affects blood glucose. For example, pure sugar gets a reading of 100 and I think water is 0. Essentially, foods with a high GI will cause a “glucose dump” into the blood stream, resulting in a massive amount of insulin secreted, which ends up with a lot of stored nutrients. While storing nutrients is not bad, it is counter to your weight loss goals. The foods that are generally low on the GI are dark, green veggies, which is why we always champion broccoli.
When you eat broccoli, your body has to work really hard to break it down and in the end, not much glucose comes out of it. However, if you are to eat a piece of cake, which is pretty much sugar to begin with, you get a massive amount of glucose with little to no work being done to break it down. Now, your body has to either use it or store it because it can’t have that much glucose in the blood. This is the secret to losing weight. Not counting calories per say, but eating in a way that your body is not storing a lot of nutrients.
One other thing that also plays in to blood glucose is how quickly the food can be absorbed into the body. Raw broccoli is a very coarse, very dense piece of food, which is why it takes so long for the body to break it down and get it into the blood stream. Milk on the other hand, is liquid, which is very easy for the body to break down. This is why lifters will drink protein shakes after a work out because they want those nutrients into the body ASAP.
In conclusion, good luck with all of your goals. These next weeks are going to be tough but stay the course. Focus on the end and overcome the obstacles that are in front of you. If you have any more questions, please ask a coach.