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Aug 21st

Carbohydrates & Exercise – yay or nay?

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There are many strong opinions on carbohydrate consumption. Many high protein diets (e.g. Paleo) are relatively low in carbohydrates. Here’s my opinion on carbohydrates:

-          There has to be a balance in carbohydrate consumption (consider low glycaemic index carbs like brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, millet as a superior option instead of white carbs (e.g. bread/pasta/white rice)) Especially when high intensity exercise is involved, moderate carbohydrate consumption is required for energy. Exercising too much (e.g. 6 days a week, high intensity for long hours) raises stress hormone cortisol in the body that can impact on sleep, mood and adrenal health. What happens when cortisol is raised continuously due to stress/exercise, glucose is being released consistently. This impacts on insulin receptors that can cause insulin resistance.

-          High cortisol levels long term can cause weight gain. High glucose levels in the blood accompanied by insulin suppression lead to cells starved of glucose. As the cells are crying out for energy they send constant hunger signals to the brain. This leads to overeating and unused glucose stored as fat. Cortisol can also influence appetite and cravings.

-          A low carb diet long term has an impact on thyroid function, hormone health and adrenal fatigue. At the start, weight loss is easy but it may stall later on. Convince your body that it’s not in danger of starvation for energy. This includes stress reduction through meditation, spending time in nature, music, cutting back on exercise (mixing it up with relaxing exercises such as yoga), having good quality sleep and eating enough whole carbohydrates to maintain normal body functions. Ladies, moderate carbohydrate intake may be the missing link in balancing thyroid function, losing weight and balancing hormones.

-          If you having high protein meals and still reaching for sugary foods (e.g. chocolate/cake) or chips at the end of the day, it’s a hint from your body that you require whole carbohydrates for energy.

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