CURB THE CARBS - FITNESS
Exercising for a better quality of life is a very wise decision. You can build muscle and get stronger, have more endurance and maintain your flexibility. All very important things in life.
But the two things that exercise has been credited with but has no effect on are (a) prevention and management of diabetes, and (b) loss of weight through the loss of fat. Plain and simple one cannot shed body fat by exercising.
The above is not an error or a misprint. Rather, it is just a very blasphemous, seemingly ridiculous and impossible-to-believe statement (at least for most misled people) that, shockingly, is the absolute scientific truth.
WHY WE GET FAT
Body fat, unlike what is wrongly taught, is not a store of excess unwanted energy. It is direly needed energy obtained from carbohydrates, but due to hormonal and enzymatic reasons is converted into triglycerides and stored in adipocytes as visceral (inside the abdominal cavity) and subcutaneous (under the skin) fat.
It is the high release of insulin from the pancreas in response to the intake of sugars that causes most of the energy ingested to be stored and locked up as body fat, leaving the body in constant need for more energy. So, it results in further encouraging the consumption of carbohydrates.
More technically, ingestion of carbohydrates leads to hyperglycaemia, which leads to a spiking of insulin levels, that, in turn, leads to rapid onset of hypoglycaemia as the body converts most of the carbohydrates eaten into triglycerides (via the ATP-citrate lyase enzymatic pathway), and makes fat cells open and available for the storage of these triglycerides (via the lipoprotein lipase enzymatic pathway). This expands the fat cells in size.
Now that is the true genuine science that leads to fat gain in humans. It has nothing to do with eating more than you need. It has nothing to do with humans being more sedentary, and definitely has nothing to do with eating calorically dense dietary fat.
THE REAL CULPRIT
We must stop wrongly implicating dietary fat and lack of activity as the reasons for fat gain. In this process, the real culprit is going scot-free, and that lucky culprit is sugar in all its forms.
But don’t most health-conscious people already know that sugar is bad? Don’t most health-conscious people stay away from sweets, pastries, cakes and desserts?
They do. But they still get fat and cannot seem to lose fat simply because most ‘sugars’ are not sweet. They have been going unnoticed because they have been given the euphemism ‘carbohydrates’. It’s high time we drop this safe-sounding name and understand that all carbohydrates, or carbs as they are popularly called, are more accurately defined in genuine nutritional science by the term ‘sugars.
Let me explain by illustrating certain truths of life, which you all can observe around you and verify. Once I have brought your attention to these examples, you will truly start noticing this reality that until now went unnoticed.
It is a known fact that athletes engaged in ultra-endurance sports such as marathons and triathlons rely on copious quantities of carbohydrates for endurance and to perform in their immensely energy-demanding sports. They also steadfastly keep their dietary fat intake very low.
But a little-known fact is that many of them suffer fat gain, even though their activity levels are through the roof. Some even succumb to insulin resistance due to this hyper loading of carbohydrates or sugars.
The above two facts clearly indicate that no volume of intense activity can ever save you from gaining fat if your diet is sugar-loaded.
Fat cannot be lost by so-called fat-burning exercises. Any intense activity that requires a challenging effort, done by a person on a carb-dominated diet, will always solely use glucose and glycogen, while converting the majority of the ingested carbohydrate into triglyceride packages that will then be stored as body fat (adipose tissue).
Exercise cannot save a regular person from insulin resistance and obesity; especially if, as per the conventional nutritional wisdom, the individual partakes in a grain-based, high-carbohydrate, very-low-fat, low-protein diet.
HOW WORKOUTS HELP
Exercise is a stimulus for improved performance in the parameters of strength, endurance, mobility, speed and agility. It has a bearing on muscle gain as hypertrophy (enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells) of skeletal muscle cannot happen just with the inclusion of the right quantum of first-class animal-source protein. It will also require a stimulus such as micro-trauma initiated to the muscle cells through intense weight training, so as to provide a reason for the body to adapt to the stress inflicted by weight training with increased thickness of muscle fibres.
In the sense of muscle gain, exercise is as important as diet when it comes to positively impacting body composition. If protein in its right quantum and quality is not provided, the body cannot get the raw materials needed to repair and build skeletal muscle tissue. Conversely, given adequate raw material, the body will not see a need to increase skeletal muscle mass unless we provide the micro-trauma to the muscle fibres as a stimulus, and a very good reason for the body to adapt to that stress by adding to the thickness of the muscle fibres.
From the perspective of fat loss, no matter how intensely you work out, you cannot make the body burn existing body fat stores unless you blunt the insulinemic response of the body by giving up sugar in all its forms and relying predominantly on dietary saturated fats in your food. The prime reason for people getting frustrated with their gym workout efforts to lose weight is that they continue to eat sugar.
We are not fat due to our sedentary lifestyles. We get fat due to the predominance of sugar (carbohydrates) in our diets.
The same factor that causes insulin resistance (type-II diabetes) causes the human body to store a big chunk of energy coming from carbohydrates as body fat every time we ingest sugar (carbs).
Carbohydrate intake causes the insulin to spike. That also ensures that energy stays locked up in fat cells and the body uses energy from ingested sugars (carbohydrates).
BLAME IT ON CARBS
Thus, it’s a double whammy when it comes to ingesting a big quantum of carbohydrates. First, when you ingest carbohydrates such as grains, rice, fruits, honey, table sugar, breads of all kinds, potatoes and pasta, more than half the amount gets converted into triglycerides and is stored in adipose tissue and just about half is used as the energy source as the raised insulin, through enzymatic pathways, keeps the fat stores locked and unavailable as energy.
Thus, carbohydrates are not only lipogenic (body fat creating) but also anti-lipolytic (hampering fat breakdown), that is, they not only make you fat but also prevent you from losing fat, irrespective of their quantum and perceived quality. Once you are insulin resistant, there is no such thing as good or bad carbohydrate. All carbohydrates are sugars, and all sugars are carbohydrates.
The biggest problem is misinformation. People are convinced that sugar is harmful and causes diabetes and obesity. But people are wrongly taught and, thus, believe that giving up all sweet-tasting foods, mainly desserts, cola beverages and table sugar (sucrose) in tea and coffee means that one has given up sugar.
They need to be educated that most sugars do not taste sweet. Rice is sugar; wheat/ jowar/bajra is sugar; bread is sugar; pasta is sugar; potato is sugar; chips is sugar; corn is sugar; an idli is sugar; milk contains sugar (lactose); breakfast cereals (oats, muesli, flakes) are all sugars. Plus, to make matters worse, they are sweetened by extremely diabetogenic high-fructose corn syrup. Many still wrongly consider sweet fruits as an exception and actually consider fruits to be sugar-free.
Some have been misinformed to such an extent that they actually believe honey and jaggery to be so-called natural, safe sweeteners that are not actually sugars. Many still associate the word sugar to purely denote just one measly form of sugar, and that is sucrose (table sugar, or chini).
Thus, millions think wrongly that they should give up dietary fats to lose fat, and actually think that sugars are fine as long as they are not deep fried. And millions who do believe that sugar must be given up also, unfortunately, do not recognise their staple foods such as rice, chapattis, potatoes, pasta, cereals and fruits as sugars.
This is complete and utter misrepresentation of the term sugars as something that is different from carbohydrates. Moreover, the erroneous concept that sugars are bad, and carbohydrates are good is the single most important reason why a very curable disease such as type-II diabetes mellitus is very conveniently called an incurable condition that can only be managed with pharmaceuticals.
To really live sugar-free, you must be carbohydrate-free. That is when type-II diabetes will be cured (blood sugar will be maintained tightly between 80mg and 100mg per decilitre over a period of time, without medication); and the body will start to use stored body fat reserves as its primary source of fuel and, in the process, provide one with immense energy while causing super fat loss. The path to cure diabetes and obesity is the same — a high-fat, very-low-carb dietary lifestyle.
Today, the science behind obesity is clear. High intake of carbohydrates leads to type-II diabetes, and type-II diabetes, while, more accurately, insulin resistance, leads to obesity. Ergo, the culprit in the obesity epidemic is dietary carbohydrates (sugars).
Coming back to the crux of this article — I hope now it is clear that no amount of activity or exercise will contribute to fat loss if the diet is carbohydrate-based, but significant fat loss can be achieved while the body heals from insulin resistance simply by changing your diet to a high-fat, very-low-carb dietary approach, even if the person is sedentary.
While the number of people engaging in regular, fairly intense exercise is rising at a furious pace, diabetes and obesity are growing at an alarming rate too.
Over the last two decades, the number of people conscientiously trying to eat healthy and working out has exploded and continues to grow exponentially. The country’s population two decades back had an incredibly scary percentage of people that were diabetic and fat. It was 20 per cent (one out of every five Indians). The boom in the people getting health-conscious did absolutely nothing to curb that rate, let alone reduce the numbers.
Today, the health of our population, including urban, educated, health-conscious, fitness freaks, has been completely put in disarray by an even scarier percentage of the diabetic and obese, which stands at a whopping 33 per cent, while the fitness industry booms!
Diabetes leading to obesity has been given a new name by science — diabesity (they are two sides of the same coin).
At least now, good sense should prevail, and one must question the current conventional wisdom on how to combat diabesity. The current accepted approach to fat loss — of burning away the calories by working out and curbing caloric intake through a drastic reduction in dietary fats and relying on a preponderance of fat-free complex carbohydrates (erroneously considered ‘slow release’ and eliciting a very stable insulin response) is clearly not working. In fact, it seems to be actually fuelling the diabesity pandemic.
We must remember that:
We are not fat because we are sedentary.
We are not fat because we eat too much fat.
We cannot lose fat, no matter how hard we exercise, on a carb-loaded diet.
We can only lose fat by giving up on all dietary sugars and relying on dietary fats for energy.
Just making a dietary switch to a scientifically correct, carb-restricted, high-fat diet will make you lose fat.
Just working out hard on the traditional, so-called healthy, low-fat diet will not make you lose fat.
Of course, the best approach would be to practise correct scientific ‘performance nutrition’ and work out regularly, consistently and progressively, with an emphasis on strength, endurance and mobility training.
This is the comprehensive approach that will help lose body fat, plus build and retain muscle.
THE FINAL ANALYSIS
To build muscle, gain strength, increase endurance and maintain full mobility, exercise and nutrition are equal contributors. Results cannot be achieved if any one of them is compromised.
But, when it comes to losing weight in terms of loss of body fat, nutrition is the key and exercise has hardly any role to play in it.