Carbs or Carbos, or Carbohydrates:

Don't Leave Home Without Them!
...unless you want to perform like a slug and look flat!


A few questions answered...

Is it true that carbohydrates make a person fat?
Once more: If you eat more calories than you expend, then anything can be stored as fat - protein, fat or carbohydrate.

Why are dietary carbohydrate recommendations higher than protein?
Carbohydrate is the substance the body uses to produce energy and convert other nutrients to energy, such as fat. Also, wise carbohydrate sources provide important nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances that have a positive impact on health (bioflavonoids, phytochemicals). In addition, carbohydrates are considered "protein sparing", as they can be used for energy, saving protein for the role of tissue repair and building. Lastly, the brain and central nervous system run best on a fuel of glucose. That is why people feel "spacey" when they go too long without eating or consume insufficient carbohydrate.

Will eating past 7 p.m., especially carbohydrates, result in weight gain?
The body does not have an enzyme with a watch that after 7 p.m. preferentially stores items, especially carbohydrate, as fat. All of us have a certain number of calories we can consume without gaining weight. If you happen to change your daily schedule and end up eating a final meal or snack later in the evening without changing your calories, you are in no danger of accumulating weight as a result of that minor alteration. Ideally, however, you would spread your allotted number of calories throughout the day to prevent hunger and prevent wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can sap your energy levels.

What is insulin's role in storing fat?
Humans, as periodic eaters, need insulin to survive. Following a meal, insulin is secreted, with its job being the storage of energy (glucose, amino acids) in the liver, muscle and adipose tissue (fat). We will always eat more at a meal than can immediately be used for energy, making this storage necessary. As the hours after a meal go by, this stored energy is released to fuel the continuous needs and activity of the body.

Define "sugars" - government definition.
Any mono or disaccharide (single or double-molecule sugar, such as Fructose or Sucrose).

Will carbohydrates make me fat?
No. Americans currently eat approximately 300 calories more per day than they did 10 years ago and move less - thus, we are fatter. Calories and technology are the primary reasons for our nation's expanding waistline. Excess calories make you fat.

Is it true that fruit or fructose make you fat?
This is false. Excess calories make you fat. Fructose is the sweetener of choice for fat loss because it does not elicit the insulin response. It is very expensive, so most companies do not like to use it.

Will wheat make me fat?
No, but wheat may cause bloating in a small percentage of people who are allergic to it. Wheat does not make anyone fat, excess calories do.

If I eat carbohydrates, or any food at night, will I gain weight?
No. If the daily caloric intake allows for fat loss or maintenance and is spread throughout a 24-hour period you will not gain weight. Excess calories make you fat.

Explain why switching from a high-protein diet to a high-carbohydrate diet might cause you to feel bloated initially.
Each part of stored glucose (glycogen) contains 2.7 parts water. That's a ratio folks. So for each gram of carbs you eat, you store 2.7g or water with it. With a high-protein diet, glycogen stores are consistently low and therefore water content is low, which decreases the cells' efficiency. The bloated feeling will eventually normalize when the body recovers to a properly hydrated state. The water is INTRA cellular (bigger muscle cells) not subcutaneous (under your skin). So now drop the diuretics m'kay?

Carbohydrate Loading

Carbohydrate loading is a technique used to increase the amount of energy (glycogen) in the body. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles and is broken down to glucose, which fuels the brain, nervous and muscular system. Glucose is also necessary for fat to be utilized for energy. During prolonged endurance events greater than 60-90 minutes, (e.g. cycling, long distance running, triathlons) and sports that involve numerous repeated bouts of intense effort, (e.g. tennis, soccer) glycogen becomes depleted, causing fatigue and compromising performance. Carbohydrate loading prior to these types of activities can help to delay fatigue and thus enhance performance.
Carbohydrate loading requires that you first decrease the amount of carbohydrates you eat to approximately 50% of your total caloric intake (TCI) or 1.8 grams per pound of your body weight for two days while exercising at a relatively high intensity (70-75% of your VO2 max or 80-85% of your maximum heart rate) and long duration. This allows glycogen stores to become partially depleted. For the next five days, you will increase your carbohydrate intake to approximately 70% of TCI or 4.5 grams per pound of your body weight while tapering off exercise. By following this protocol, the body will compensate and store as much as two to three times the amount of glycogen than normal. The result is maximized muscle energy stores on the day of competition, allowing for optimal performance. The currently accepted carbohydrate loading regime was designed by Sherman and Costill and is contained in the table below

Sherman/Costill Carbohydrate Loading Regimen

Exercise Duration/Intensity
% Carbohydrate of TCI (grams/pound)
90 minutes/70-75%VO2
50% (1.8g/lb)
40 minutes/70-75%VO2
50% (1.8g/lb)
40 minutes/70-75%VO2
60-65% (1.8-2.3g/lb)
20 minutes/70-75%VO2
70% (4.5g/lb)
20 minutes/70-75%VO2
70% (4.5g/lb)
70% (4.5g/lb)
Pre competition meals and snacks

Carbohydrate loading is normally performed seven days prior to prolonged endurance events and tournaments with multiple games/matches lasting several hours. However, it is not recommended that you attempt this protocol for the first time prior to a major event. Carbohydrate loading will induce some water retention and weight gain, which you may need to adjust to. Work with your Fitness Professional when utilizing this technique and your performance nutrition program can be modified accordingly.

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