By now you should have a pretty good handle on your diet program. That is, you know how to lower your overall daily calories and eat multiple, small meals per day. You’ve also got an overview of how to eat clean and close to nature.
Starting in this lesson and for the next several lessons, you’ll get an in-depth look at how food fuels your body. Plus you’ll find out the best foods to eat from each of the three main macronutrient categories (fats, carbs and proteins). Let’s start with carbohydrates…
Why Your Body Needs Simple and Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are your body’s primarily source of energy, especially when your body has immediate energy needs. That’s because your body can break down carbohydrates into glucose, which your body needs for energy. If you have all the glucose you need, then your body will store this energy as glycogen in your liver and your muscles.
TIP: That’s why you need to do steady-state cardio for at least 20 minutes. And it’s also the reason why, if you do weights and cardio on the same day, you should do weights first and then cardio. That’s because the first 20 minutes of vigorous activity is what burns the stored glycogen out of your muscles. After that, your body will start breaking down your fat stores for energy.
Here’s how it works…
You eat a meal that includes carbohydrates. In response, your body releases insulin to deal with the sugar (by helping your body utilize it or store it if necessary). In healthy people, the body releases just enough insulin so that you maintain a healthy amount of glucose in your blood.
TIP: Your body is flexible, in that it can do this conversion either with or without oxygen. If you’re doing an intense weight-lifting workout, your body will often have to do this conversion without oxygen. However, as a result your body produces lactic acid… and this is what contributes to you having sore muscles.
Now here’s the important thing to know…
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Your body can quickly break down and utilize simple, “fast burning” carbohydrates. The problem with this is that these simple carbs burn fast, give you a quick energy high and then you end up “crashing” and feeling tired. Most processed carbohydrates are simple carbs.
Instead, what you want to do is eat complex, “slow burning” carbohydrates. These take longer for your body to break down, so you stay full longer. Plus the extra processing requires extra energy, which means you get a little metabolic boost when you eat complex carbs.
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