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Carbohydrates And Weight Loss

Recommended carbohydrate intake for weight loss

Try not to have an excessive carbohydrate consumption – although adequate carbohydrate consumption is important for proper metabolic functioning – an excessive consumption, above what your body needs, for normal functioning, will be stored as fat. When there is an excessive consumption of carbohydrate the body responds by releasing large amounts of insulin. Insulin is responsible for moderating blood sugar levels. When the body detects large amounts of sugars in the blood it responds by releasing insulin to control the blood sugar level. The excess of carbohydrate will then be taken up by muscle cells, and more worryingly from a health perspective, it will encourage the body to store the excess as fat.

Another problem associated with the insulin response to excessive carbohydrate consumption is that, in relatively inactive individuals, the insulin will cause blood sugar levels to drop considerably and may lead to low blood sugar levels – i.e. the body overcompensates for the amount of sugar in the blood. This drop in blood sugar levels normally occurs, 1-2hours after the consumption of carbohydrate, and is associated with a significant drop in energy levels. This is why many people who consume junk food such as a bar of chocolate, in order to raise energy levels, often find that their energy levels are only raised for about 30-60minutes. After this initial rise they normally find that their energy levels drop off significantly, to a level that is lower than what they were originally. This rise in insulin levels can be caused by either the consumption of high energy foods such as chocolate bars or through the consumption of excessive amounts of carbohydrate with meals.

In order to reduce the insulin response you look to reduce your consumption of junk food such as chocolate bars, and also look to reduce the amount of carbohydrate that you consume with meals. A good way to reduce the amount of carbohydrate you are consuming at any one time, and to increase your energy levels, is to consume several smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 large meals. Maybe look to have 5 smaller meals during the day. If you consume these every 3 hours it will help to maintain your energy levels and will help to lower the amount of insulin that is released. You should also look to cut down the amount of carbohydrate that you consume with each meal – don’t have more than 50-75g of carbohydrates such as pasta, rice etc with any meal. Often people make the mistake of adding additional sources of carbohydrate to a meal, such as noodles to a stir-fry, when there is likely to be plenty of carbohydrates present within the vegetables in the stir fry. Also, when you do consume carbohydrate, try to use the more complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, and pasta rather than the processed versions such as white bread, or quick cook pasta. The advantage of complex carbohydrates is that they take longer to digest and therefore they release their sugars at a slower more controlled rate. This keeps blood sugar levels more even and will be less likely to lead to a sudden rise in blood sugar levels.

Another consideration is the time of day that you consume carbohydrates. It is important to consume some slow releasing carbohydrate, first thing in the morning, such as porridge. This helps to speed up your metabolism, after it has slowed down overnight, and because porridge contains slow releasing sugars it helps to maintain energy levels for several hours. As we get to late afternoon/early evening our metabolism may start to slow down and therefore you may wish to consider reducing your consumption of carbohydrates late in the evening. If you are going to eat later at night try to consume more protein rich foods as these may help to elevate your metabolism.

Carbohydrates and weight loss summary:

  • 1) Eat several smaller meals, ideally every three hours, throughout the day rather than 3 large meals – it is particularly important to consume a small amount of carbohydrate in the morning such as porridge to maintain energy levels
  • 2) Reduce the amount of carbohydrate with each meal so you consume no more than 75g of carbohydrate at any one time.
  • 3) Look to consume more complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholemeal pasta/bread etc.).
  • 4) Try to cut out or reduce your consumption of high energy junk foods such as chocolate bars.
  • 5) Reduce your carbohydrate intake late at night as this may be more likely to be stored as fat.