by guss Published on 08-12-2013
Do you find it difficult to get cut without losing your hard-earned muscle? Do you have occasional energy slumps that cause you to feel lazy tired, sleepy and unmotivated? Is there a layer of fat on your body that just refuses to go away no matter how many sit-ups and crunches you perform? Is your low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet failing to produce that lean body you always dreamed about? Are you ready for a no-holds-barred fat-burning program that will redefine the word "shredded"? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this fitFlex article is for you.
Americans have a problem burning fat, but as with most problems there's usually a simple solution. In this case the solution is to stop using glucose, or sugar, as a primary source of fuel and switch to burning fat instead. Does that sound easy? It is. And once you begin to burn fat readily, you'll never want to go back to burning sugar.
Most leading nutritionists and health authorities advocate a low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet for everyone, the proposed outcome being a lean body that's filled with energy. We're told to pass on the butter, power down the pasta, pile on the rice and belt down the beans, and we're lead to believe we'll be buzzing with energy as a result. Most likely, however, we'll be buzzing with gas and a lot of belching.
Fat is now known as the F-word, and we're told to avoid it like the plague. We're carefully instructed to read all labels in the supermarket and run like a scared jack rabbit from any product that contains even a trace of fat or oil. 'While this may seem like a simple, logical solution to weight loss-that is, fat loss-for many people a low fat, high-carbohydrate diet spells disaster.
High Carbohydrate Foods Can Make You Fat
Once ingested, carbohydrate foods eventually become sugar through the natural process of digestion. By a special enzymatic action that pasta salad and baked potato you had for lunch will soon be pulsing through your veins as glucose, a.k.a. blood sugar. The problem is, a high-carb, low fat diet teaches your body to become an efficient sugar burner not an efficient fat burner.
Why does this happen? Because a high-carbohydrate diet provides you with loads of sugar to burn, creating high levels of sugar in your bloodstream, and high blood sugar levels trigger your pancreas to secrete insulin, a powerful hormone that controls excess sugar in the blood. Insulin has three primary functions: 1) to prepare glucose to be burned as energy 2) to convert glucose to glycogen, a starch that's stored in the muscles and liver and 3) to convert glucose to triglyceride, a form of fat, and store it in the least exercised area of your body, like your stomach, hips or butt. While very small amounts of insulin are necessary for your overall good health and well-being, high levels of insulin released into the bloodstream totally block your use of fats as fuel. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, which sounds like a bodybuilders dream come true. The unfortunate catch is that as an anabolic agent it helps you gain both muscle and fat. In other words, the presence of insulin will naturally enable you to get big-if you don't mind "big" meaning "smooth" and "round."
Which Carbs Should You Avoid?
Understand that your body's first choice of energy is fat but that high blood sugar levels, which naturally stimulate the release of insulin, block its ability to access and use fat for fuel. To burn fat 24 hours a day, all you need to do is limit your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods. Starchy, carbohydrate-dense foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and yams can quickly elevate blood glucose levels and stimulate your body to produce insulin, thus blocking fat burning for hours. If you want to burn fat continuously, it's best to severely limit or completely avoid most starchy, high-carb foods.
Once you limit carb intake to approximately 20 percent or less of your total calories, the insulin tap will be shut down and your pancreas will secrete another hormone called glucagon. That's when the fat-burning magic begins.
Eating Fat Helps You Burn Fat
Low fat diets can actually reduce your body's ability to access and use fat for fuel. Carbohydrate foods, even if they're complex carbohydrate - not simple sugars, juices or sweets-become glucose when eaten by themselves, often within 30 to 60 minutes. This rapid creation of sugar can easily trigger your pancreas to release high levels of insulin. When you eat fat with a meal, however, it naturally slows the digestive process. In fact, when a carbohydrate meal also includes fat, the time required to create glucose is often tripled. As a result, newly formed sugar only trickles into the bloodstream over a period of two to four hours. If the carbohydrate intake at the same meal is below 20 percent of the total calories, then the stage is set for optimum fat burning.
We can suggest a diet consisting of 40 to 50 percent protein, 15 to 20 percent carbohydrate and 30 to 40 percent healthy fats and oils; "healthy" fats include such foods as flax oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, lean meats, fish and egg yolks. If you restrict carbohydrate intake to 20 percent or less of your total calories, your blood sugar levels will remain within a normal range, insulin will only trickle into your bloodstream, your pancreas will secret glucagon, and your body will automatically begin to burn fat-which is what it actually prefers.
Your Runners and endurance athletes who exercise for one or two hours or more per day are not by any means different from the rest of the population. Athletes, too, must pay attention to their diets to stay healthy so they can perform at peak levels. Endurance athletes have merely discovered a metabolic antidote to the high-carbohydrate problem. They haven't removed the problem, just sidestepped it, so to speak.
High levels of cardiovascular training create a glycogen void in high-carb-eating sugar burners. Because most of their initial energy is derived from glucose, not fat, blood sugar levels drop and glycogen stores are tapped to meet the demand for more sugar to burn. After 30 to 50 minutes of cardiovascular training, glycogen stores are diminished and the sugar burners finally get to start burning some fat as fuel. At the end of a long training session endurance athletes can then sit down to a plate of pasta, a carb drink and two baked potatoes-and not get fat. Why? Because the excess blood sugar created by the high-carbohydrate meal is either burned as fuel or stored as glycogen. Since glycogen was depleted during the workout, most of the excess glucose is stored as muscle starch and very little is actually converted to fat. What's more, any new fat that's created may get burned during the next day two-hour training session.
While a high volume of cardiovascular training can be physically beneficial, it's not the answer to the carbohydrate problem. This kind of exercise merely becomes the antidote to a problem, the problem in this case being the consumption of excess carbohydrate. What will happen to endurance athletes if they twist an ankle and can't train for 30 to 60 days? if they continue with a high-carb cuisine, they'll more than likely become fatter if they switch over to a reduced-carbohydrate eating plan, however, they won't gain during a training layoff, and in fact they might actually lose bodyfat due to naturally low insulin levels in the bloodstream. By merely adjusting your diet to control the amount and type of carbohydrate consumed, it becomes easy to stay lean for life whether you follow a structured exercise program or not. When you're consistently accessing and using fat for fuel, any physical motion becomes a fat-burning activity.
Exercise should keep you fit, not put a check on a carbohydrate addiction. By using exercise as a vehicle for better health and fitness, you'll be able to avoid succumbing to the diet/exercise addiction cycle. While both exercise and proper diet are essential to good health, they merely work with synergy as a means to an end with neither being designed as a check or balance of the other.