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Bulletin #90 – Doing Carbs Right: Controlling Insulin Release

These days you can’t pick up a magazine or look at the best seller list in the bookstore without seeing something about low carbohydrate diets. Low carbohydrate ketogenic diets have their primary applica-tion in facilitating fat loss. Such diets work to help you lose weight in part by reducing insulin levels. Insulin is a storage hormone and promotes the storage of carbohydrate as glycogen as well as promoting the use of carbohydrate as fuel. What many people don’t realize is that insulin also inhibits lipolysis, the release of stored fat from fat cells. Insulin shifts the body’s metabolism into a carbohydrate mode and shuts off fat burning. This all makes perfect sense if you think about it. The role of body fat is primarily to store energy for times when food is not available. When you eat, insulin is released in response to the carbohydrate content of the meal and acts to promote the utilization of that carbohydrate for energy. If carbohydrate is available as a fuel source your body will prefer to use it instead of fat, since it wants to save body fat as an insurance policy against starvation.If your only goal is fat loss, reduced carbohydrate diets do make some sense. We’ve used this strategy with our bodybuilders for years, hav-ing them progressively reduce starch intake before a contest to help get them ripped.

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During this time we have them increase their intake of CapTri® to make sure energy levels don’t suffer. CapTri® is a proprietary medium chain triglyceride (MCT) formula that is used immediately for energy-more rapidly than glucose in fact. CapTri® has minimal effects on insulin so it is an ideal energy source during reduced carb dieting. Using CapTri® in place of some portion of your normal starchy carbohydrate intake will reduce insulin levels and shift your metabolism into a fat-burning mode. CapTri® itself is used immediately for en-ergy and is not stored as body fat. CapTri® is a dieter’s dreams come true .While reducing carbohydrate intake works well to assist fat loss, it’s not the best diet for all situations. Athletes, particularly endurance athletes and team sports players, need the quick energy that carbohydrates provide.

Bodybuilders are equally as inter-ested in gaining muscle as they are in losing fat, and carbs provide energy for muscular growth. Bodybuilders also enjoy having full, hard muscles, and that comes, in part, from glycogen stored in the muscle cells . Athletes, whether they are aware of it or not, want to store glycogen in their muscles in order to look and perform their best, and glycogen storage requires eating carbohydrates. Is there some way we can derive the benefit of carbohydrates and still get leaner?Yes, there is . You can include a sig-nificant amount of carbo-hydrate in your diet and still lose fat-if you do it right. The strategy behind a reduced carbohydrate diet is not to avoid carbohydrates per se-but rather to reduce insulin levels. Carbs don’t make you fat-it’s the insulin release fol-lowing carbohydrate ingestion that is the culprit. This biochemical sequence prevents you from losing the stored body fat you already have. At Parrillo Performance we have developed a dietary plan that allows you to eat carbohydrates while minimizing the insulin response.

This gives you the best of both worlds: the benefits of carbohydrate in providing energy for growth and athletic performance-plus the benefit of reducing insulin levels.Understanding how the Par-rillo diet works is really not too complicated once you understand some basics about metabolism. Both protein and carbohydrate stimulate insulin release from the pancreas, but carbs are a significantly more potent stimulus than protein is . And not all carbs are created equal. Gram for gram, some carbs elicit a much stronger insulin response than others. We divide carbs into four cat-egories . First are simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, then there are starches and fiber. You want to avoid simple sugars and refined carbs since these are the most potent insulin se-cretors. Simple sugars are found in desserts and sweets and are major in-gredients in soft drinks. Last month I stated that the average American consumes a staggering 153 pounds of refined sugar per year. Most of this is concealed in processed foods, convenience foods, soft drinks, and sweets. Many cereals also are very high in sugar. When you’re reading the labels to check for sugar content remember that high-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener loaded with the sugar fructose, which is even more potent in promoting fat storage than table sugar.You might be surprised to learn that fruit, fruit juice and milk are high in sugar. Almost all of the calories in fruit and juice derive from natural fruit sugars.

Although milk is an outstanding protein source, it contains more calories from sugar than from protein. Fruit and dairy products have many healthy attributes but are relatively high in sugars and the fact that these sugars occur naturally doesn’t make it any better for you. So for people seeking to achieve ultimate leanness, I strongly suggest they avoid fruit, juice, and dairy products. Refined carbohydrates are made from grains milled to produce flour. The problem is that in the manufacturing process the fiber is removed from the grain, leaving only starch. Then the grain is pulverized to produce a fine powder. This greatly increases the surface area of the starch, thus increasing it’s rate of digestion and absorption. Refined carbs are absorbed as quickly as sugar, and thus have essentially the same effect on insulin levels as eating sugar does. Anything made from flour is a refined carbohydrate. This includes bread and pasta and baked goods like cakes and muffins. Most snack foods (including pretzels, commonly misconstrued as being a healthy snack) are made from refined car-bohydrates. Most cereals are made from a mixture of refined carbohydrate and sugar. If you want to reduce insulin levels and still be able to eat carbohydrates, start by eliminating the carbs that are the most potent insulin releasers . This includes simple sug-ars, sweets, refined carbs, fruit, milk, bread, pasta, and most cereals . Eliminating these foods from your diet will make you notice-ably leaner.

The best carbohydrate choices are unrefined, complex carbohydrates and fibrous vegetables. Good starchy carbs are oatmeal, whole grain rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, lentils, beans, legumes, and any whole grain. While primarily starch, these foods are natural and unrefined and are high in fiber. The presence of fiber in the stomach reduces the rate of digestion and absorption of the carbohydrate, thus reduc-ing its insulin response. Good examples of fibrous carbohydrates include salads and other greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, onions and peppers. The Parrillo Performance Nutri-tion Manual™ contains a food composition table giving an extensive list of this type of category, and the best food choices, along with the nutritional breakdown of the indi-vidual food.If you want to do carbs right the first step is to avoid the carbohydrate sources which elicit a big insulin release and instead select foods that are digested more slowly. Two important concepts are meal structur-ing and meal patterning . Meal structuring is simply the proper construction of each individual meal. Each meal should contain a protein source, an unrefined complex car-bohydrate to provide starch, and a fibrous vegetable. (The exception to this is the pre-contest diet in which starch is eliminated from some meals, particularly those late in the day.)

The presence of protein in the stomach slows the rate of digestion and ab-sorption of carbohydrate, as does fiber. The exact ratio of protein to carbohydrates varies among individuals depending on what are the specific training and dietary goals. If you want to do carbs right the first step is to avoid the carbo-hydrate sources which elicit a big insulin release and instead select foods that are digested more slowly.As a good rule of thumb, during a weight gain period eat one to two grams of protein per pound of body weight each day and supply the rest of your calories from unrefined, complex starchy carbs and fibrous vegetables. Minimize fat intake. For weight loss, most people get good results by increas-ing their protein intake and simultaneously decreasing carbohydrate intake. The ratio of protein to carbs will change depending on whether your goal is weight gain or fat loss. This will vary from individual to individual. People who store fat easily do better with less carbs and more protein. People who are naturally thin and want to get bigger achieve better results by consuming more carbohy-drates. Some people are more sensitive in their metabolic response to carbohydrates than others . Thin people generally tolerate more carbs without getting fat.

The Parrillo Performance Nutrition Manual goes into extensive detail in teaching about food com-bining and meal structuring and does a more complete job than I have room for here.Meal patterning refers to how many times you eat per day. Eating small, frequent meals gives better results than eating a few larger ones. That’s because a large meal supplies more calories and generates a larger insulin response. By eating small, frequent meals you never get that big insulin release. Also, you have a more uniform energy level. I recommend eating six small meals per day spaced out evenly every two-and-a-half to three hours. Try to get at least a minimum of five meals. If you have trouble eating regular food meals that frequently, make two meals a day supplement meals. Our 50-50 Plus drink mix and the Parrillo Nutrition Bars are ideal for this purpose. Implementing these dietary concepts will allow you to eat carbohydrates while also moderating insulin levels. You will feel better, have more energy and get leaner and stronger. Eliminating sweets and refined carbs makes most people feel more energetic, not less . For more detailed information re-fer to the Parrillo Performance Nutrition Manual™.

2018-03-13T11:10:30-04:00 June 30th, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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