Things you should

know about protein, carbs

and insulin

 

You've probably heard people preach about combining complex carbohydrates (such as oats) and proteins (like egg whites) for breakfast. If not, you should consider doing it, I wouldn't knowingly steer you wrong. Other than combining them for energy and satiety (fullness), there are also some affects that many don't bother to dive into... I'm talking insulin and blood sugar. 

As a trainer with several diabetic clients, I've had to learn the factors involved with consuming carbs and protein simultaneously and the effects they have on blood sugar and insulin levels.  And because many non-diabetics don't spend much time wondering what the affects of these levels do, I wanted to share what can happen when insulin and blood sugar isn't regulated.  

1. Why carbs and protein together

When you eat carbs and protein your pancreas gets a message to tell our little buddy insulin it's time to release into the bloodstream. The insulin helps distribute the glucose to your muscle and fat cells. So now your muscles are being fed (so to speak) and you have some fat stored away to be used as energy throughout your day. The protein helps to slow down the absorption of the carbs which can help prevent too much glucose from entering the blood stream at one time. Here's why we may not want that to happen often. 

2. Too much glucose at once

Let's say you have 2 pancakes for breakfast. These simple carbs (or carbs that are more readily available for your body to use as energy), cause a rush of glucose to enter your bloodstream which increases your insulin levels. Ever heard of a an insulin spike, or more common, a sugar rush...? There you have it.  This spike in insulin tells your fat cells... "hey make some more room in there... we got a big supply coming through." It also blocks that stored fat from being used as energy. So in this example, you'd want to add some protein to that breakfast to help the glucose not rush in so quickly. 

 

For those who are trying to build muscle, a spike in insulin can be a good thing. Since the insulin also makes more room in the muscle cells to store glucose, eating carbs, especially simple carbs, after a quality weight lifting session can help the muscle building process.  

3. Use your carbs wisely 

Many of us tend to fear carbs because of the myths about their correlation with weight gain. And it can be hard to get away from the idea of eating them without guilt when everywhere you turn you hear about these low carb or no carb "diets." Let's get this straight... carbs are not the enemy... and depending on how you use them, they can be very beneficial for your body. Think of carbs as energy that you eat. If you take in energy, you have to burn it off so that it won't be stored away as fat. And even if it is stored away as fat, it will need to be used up at some point. So if you think about it, you don't really need to eat much energy at night unless you plan to go run a few miles (I'm exaggerating, but you get my point.) This is why a lot of people tend to do fasted cardio (or cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach). It has been studied that doing cardio in a fasted state let's your body tap into that stored "energy" you ate, and is sitting around waiting on you to use it. So as long as you use your carbs, or energy, and don't keep piling it up without doing anything with it, carbs won't stand a chance in making a negative impact on your physique or your health. (Note: be conscious of carbs that do not come from whole foods) 

Everyone's body is different and depending on your nutrition, health, genetics and fitness level, carbs, protein and insulin can impact your body a way it may not impact someone else's. The information I provided stemmed from working with my clients' doctors to make sure their guidance from me is informed. It is always wise to consult with your physician and understand your nutrition sensitivities, tolerances, allergies, etc so that you can take the necessary steps to adapt a lifestyle of eating habits that help you live a healthier life. 

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