To manage carbohydrate intake properly you must understand a little bit about insulin as well as how and why carbohydrates influence the production of this hormone.
Eating a typical meal will cause blood glucose levels to rise, triggering the pancreas to produce insulin. The hormone insulin travels through the body and induces fat and muscle cells to absorb excess glucose from the blood for use as energy. As the cells take up glucose, blood glucose levels fall and flatten out to a normal range. Insulin also signals the liver—the body’s glucose repository—to hold on to its glucose stores for later use. Insulin also carries amino acids into the muscles promoting protein synthesis (muscle building) and preventing protein breakdown (muscle loss).
Your muscles and liver store carbohydrates as glycogen which becomes a source of fuel for you body as it is needed. Your muscles and liver have a limited storage capacity for carbohydrates and once they reach capacity insulin has to carry the remaining glucose somewhere else. Excess carbohydrates will then get routed to fat cells to be stored as fat.
Fortunately you can control your bodies insulin response by what you eat and you can minimize fat storage by eating only enough carbohydrates to fuel your bodies activities.
Carbohydrates- When eaten alone carbohydrates cause the largest insulin release because they are converted directly into sugar by the body – carbs are your body’s primary energy source and they are easily converted to sugar (glucose)50g of carbs is equal to 50g of sugar entering the bloodstream and what your body does not need for energy will be stored as fat.
Protein- When eaten alone protein causes a smaller insulin response. Your liver can convert the amino acids from protein into glucose if adequate carbohydrates are not present for energy.
Fats- Fat has almost no blood sugar increasing affect at all. When fat is digested it is primarily broken down into glycerol and free fatty acid chains. Your liver converts the glycerol into glucose.
If you are attempting to lose weight you should restrict calories so that you are consuming slightly less calories than you need to fuel you bodies daily activities. Carbohydrates should be limited to what is necessary to fuel your daily activity. You should adjust your carbohydrate consumption to account for changes in daily activity.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.