The majority of us struggle to attain our optimal weight.
We try our best to follow the conventional guidelines with which we are inundated. We are told to move more, eat less, that we should have greater willpower, and that we should simply “eat everything in moderation.”
Current statistics show that more than 40% of the U.S. struggles with obesity and twice that are overweight. This proves that those solutions to overcoming weight gain and illness don’t work for most of us.
If we cut to the chase, we find that metabolic variability, or teaching the body how to burn fat for fuel, allows many to experience better health and wellness. To achieve this metabolic shift, in general, we need to reduce carbohydrates, moderate protein and increase the dietary fat in our diet. Carbohydrate reduction is effective in treating a plethora of health conditions because carbohydrates have the most profound stimulus on how we metabolize other nutrients and how our body regulates fat metabolism.
It’s not that carbs are evil. Simply put, carbs control how we burn fat. Because we can only store carbohydrates in the body in small amounts, we have to burn them as fuel. Many of us don’t burn them well, so instead, we store them as body fat. When we eat carbohydrates, we force the body to burn this sugar, which simultaneously impairs the access to and the use of our stored fat. In other words, the fat is stuck in our fat cells and the excess carbohydrates or sugar are stored as more fat. It’s a double whammy: an absence of fat burn accompanied by a surplus of fat storage.
When you eat a carbohydrate from any source, it raises your blood glucose levels. This causes the pancreas to secrete large amounts of a hormone called insulin, which blocks fat breakdown and promotes fat storage. Within a few hours, many of us experience a compensatory low – the uncomfortable and sometimes scary blood sugar crash. We suffer from symptoms of fatigue, light-headedness and irritability. This “low,” induces hunger along with intense cravings for more carbohydrates as our body searches for a mechanism to normalize blood glucose. We follow these strong physiological urges, and we eat those carbohydrates. As a result, we have yet another upward swing in blood glucose with another low to follow. The roller-coaster continues all day.
If you’ve suffered from weight issues (particularly if your excess fat stores surround your stomach), it’s likely you are intolerant to carbohydrates on some level; you have a dysfunctional response following carbohydrate consumption. This is not your fault – it is not a flaw in personality or a lack of discipline. It’s simply how your body responds to nutrients.
Becoming aware of your carbohydrate intake doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take them all out. It doesn’t require you to follow a defined dietary protocol. What it does mean is that you need to investigate your unique carbohydrate tolerance level and eat to support what your body can tolerate.
Ashley Lucas has a doctorate in sports nutrition and chronic disease. She is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is the founder and owner of PHD Weight Loss and Nutrition, offering weight management and wellness services in the Four Corners. She can be reached at 764-4133.