Are Carbs such a Bad Thing?
For many years bodybuilders have touted carbohydrates as the enemy to staying lean while building muscle. What are carbohydrates? In terms of science manuals, “a Carbohydrate is an organic compound with the general formula Cm(H2O)n, that consists only of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, the last two in the 2:1 atom ratio. Carbohydrates can be viewed as hydrates of carbon, hence their name.” The basic role of carbohydrates may be summed up by saying that these supply energy to the body. Glucose is the most important source of carbohydrates. It is a simple sugar, (monosaccharide) which is metabolized by nearly all known organisms, even plants! Scientific studies estimate a release of 4 kcal (approximately) of energy by the oxidation of just one gram of carbohydrate. This energy is temporarily stored within the human cells in the form of ATP. Since it is easier to metabolize carbohydrates than fats and proteins, carbohydrates are a superior short-term fuel Yet at the same time are also a much better sustainable fuel for the body as well ( more on this later).
There are four types of carbohydrates. Monosaccharides, disaccharides, Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Mono and disaccharides are simple carbohydrates. Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are the complex carbs, however oligarosaccharides can also be disaccharides. Glucose galactose and fructose are found in monosaccharides; Lactose, sucrose, and maltose are found in disaccharides; polysaccharides consist of fiber, glycogen and starch. Monosaccharides are the simplest units of carbohydrates and known as the sugar molecule. Disaccharides are formed from two monosaccharide molecules and are what we would see in processed sugars. Polysaccharides are formed from multiple bonds of monosaccharides. One of the more prominent individuals such as Dave Palumbo has always been one against the idea of a carb based diet unless one is dirty bulking; yet he advocates that once a week people should do refeeds to speed up their metabolism. That right there lets you know that carbs ARE needed for fat loss and not just bulking. While protein does have the highest satiety after ingestion, protein also can only be consumed in small amounts due to protein synthesis. Our natural bodies were only meant to absorb and digest 30gs per 90 minutes( On avg) . If we do the math here that would equate to a measly 120 calories. In order to gain muscle one must intake a sufficient amount of calories, while expending it in the gym with weights to build lean body mass.
Why Are Low Carbohydrate Diets Unhealthy?
We have all learned the basics of a balanced diet in our elementary school. However, in our quest to achieve matchless bodies, whether a size zero or a six pack abdomen, we have chosen to forget the valuable lesson of nutrition and its importance. There has been a phenomenal surge in diet plans which advise low-carb, high protein intake as part of our daily food consumption. What most of these diets are ignoring is the age old wisdom that advocates a balanced diet for the over all well being. By restricting the intake of carbohydrates in our diet, we might be exposing our health to a number of side effects which may not be immediately visible. For the regular gym goer’s and the every day person who want to be more fit and healthy Carbs are a must.
All over the internet we see low carb this and cut down your carbs that. Extreme low carb diets have made there way out of the pro level bodybuilding arena and seemingly avalanched there way into every nook and cranny of our lives. Magazines,TV ads, News papers, and all over the internet on every site across the world. Some people are deathly afraid to even look at a carb its gotten so bad.
Low Carb Dieting Plans
As mentioned earlier, there has been a surge in the number of diet plans which advocate low-carbohydrate intakes. Known as low-carb diets, these work on the basic premise that by decreasing (or completely cutting out) carbohydrates from our diet, we can reduce the volume of insulin in our body. With the decrease in availability of insulin, the main source of energy would then be proteins from the food eaten or released in the body and fat which is stored in the body. The success rate of such diets is quite high in the short term, with most individuals losing high amounts of water from the body and also a general reduction in the levels of water retention. Weight loss with such diets is also attributed to the loss of muscle tissue. Weight loss through the loss of muscle weight or tissue is not only short lived but also detrimental to the over all health in the long as well as short run. This is also true for those aiming at muscle building. Since the diet has obvious negative effects on the state of muscles in the body, how then can a high protein diet, which is low on carbohydrate, be good for muscle building? Besides, the obvious side effect, the main problem faced post the weight loss would be maintaining the weight. Remember people. Pro level Athletes (99.99% of them) use low carb diets only for a time being for contest prep. On top of that steroids and muscle preserving compounds are almost always used in conjunction with there low carbs diets. If anyone is getting the hints here I am not saying now carb diets don’t work. Or that they do not have there place in Fitness. Lets us but them in there place though and keep them there where they belong.
Are Carbs Bad for One’s Health?
Over the years there have been debates over the issue of whether carbohydrates are good or detrimental to one’s health. Sometimes it is hard to say because some people’s diets are so careless that the choices of carbs they eat are detrimental to their health such as candy or McDonald’s. This specific study explains how with a high carbohydrate low fat diet, triacylglycerols decreased and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased to a greater extent in the very low carbohydrate high fat diet, whereas low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased in the HCLF diet but remained unchanged in VLCHF diet, while having SIMILAR results in fat loss. The study explains that people on VLCHF should have their lipids monitored consistently so that they do not end up with high cholesterol leading to severe consequences. Of the 88 subjects who completed the study, 15 were taking estrogens for hormone replacement therapy, 27 subjects were taking antihypertensive medication, and 18 were taking lipid-lowering medication. No subjects were taking hypoglycemic medication. According to the study these factors were not of much affect to the results. The subjects on the HCLF were consuming foods such as potatoes, lentils, beans, green beans, vegetables, high fiber cereal, yogurt, some nuts, chicken, beef, pork, and skim milk. The subjects of the VLCHF were consuming eggs, cheese, whole milk, turkey, chicken, ham, and 25 grams of butter/oil. Another observation was noted in which that both diets allowed for equal amounts of energy, as fat loss came more energy was useable.  This study not only proves that a high carbohydrate diet can be useful for losing weight but it also has a nice benefit on lipids.
This next study talks about the benefits of a rich fiber carbohydrate diet in those suffering from a condition called syndrome X, an example of a rich fiber carbohydrate would be oatmeal. Syndrome X refers to a condition in which several specific abnormalities are clustered together with insulin resistance as the main defect. Increased intra-abdominal adipose tissue may be the reason in the development of this syndrome. Elevated stress hormone cortisol secretion, abnormal uric acid metabolism, and polycystic ovary syndrome have also been associated with this syndrome. Recently, increased concentrations of C-reactive protein were found to be strongly correlated with waist circumference and visceral fat, suggesting that inflammation may be another abnormality correlated with syndrome X. Individuals who suffer from this syndrome are at risk of cardiovascular disease even if lipoprotein density levels are normal; which makes this syndrome extremely dangerous. This syndrome is obtained through genetics and behavior; approximately 25% to 40% come from heredity. It has been estimated that 50% of the variability in insulin-mediated glucose disposal in non-diabetic individuals is attributable to genetic factors, with the remaining 20% to 25% attributed to obesity and physical inactivity.
It is generally accepted that consumption of fiber-rich carbohydrates is important for gastrointestinal health by decreasing constipation and reducing risk of diverticular disease. A high intake of fiber-rich carbohydrates is beneficial for weight management/loss and for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease. A high fiber intake may reduce risk of certain types of cancer, specifically colorectal and breast cancer which is a plus for women of all ages. All fiber-rich foods help prevent constipation and diverticulosis, foods rich in soluble fiber delay gastric emptying and enhance satiety, just as foods rich in insoluble fiber increase fecal bulk (bowel movement) and decrease gastrointestinal transit time. When rats were given soluble fiber rich carbohydrates, their blood glucose concentrations improved due to the uptake of the glycoprotein GLUT-4 within the muscles. The study also suggests a high carbohydrate low fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains is effective in lowering blood pressure. Therefore, the available literature suggests that either weight loss or a whole-food high carbohydrate low fat diet containing multiple sources of fiber-rich carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and not just the accumulation of a single source of fiber such as oats or grits may be necessary to significantly reduce arterial blood pressure. Always monitor the amount of fiber that is in your carbohydrate intake so that the fiber intake does not deplete other important macro/micro nutrients. 
Through these two studies we see a myriad of the benefits that carbohydrates have on health and fat loss. One cannot deny that carbohydrates are truly beneficial for one’s lipids. If one has bad cholesterol they will not be able to perform physically like they want to. Bad lipids make cardio/breathing uneasy resulting in less intensified performance. Less performance whether it be in the weight room, bedroom, or athletic event leads to less accomplishments. People respond differently to different diets, although science shows that a high carbohydrate can be used while on a cut which to anyone in the bodybuilding industry may find this shocking since they are so accustomed to using a high protein diet to reach gluconeogenesis, and then eventually ketosis. The problem with ketosis is it can lead to Ketoacidosis, ketoacidosis is basically when too much ketone acids build up in the blood causing ph levels of the blood to decrease; which can be fatal!
Carbs are IDEAL for Muscle Growth!
Glycogen plays a HUGE role in preserving muscle. Glycogen is an animal starch made by the liver and through glycogenesis; eventually stored in the pancreas when there is no more space for it in the liver. How does carbs become glycogen? As one eats a meal containing carbohydrates; as its eaten and digested, blood glucose levels arise, and the pancreas secretes insulin. Glucose from the hepatic portal vein enters the liver cells. Insulin then acts on the liver cells to stimulate the action of several enzymes, including glycogen synthase. Glucose molecules eventually are added to the chains of glycogen as long as both insulin and glucose remain in abundance. In this feeding state of being, the liver takes in more glucose from the blood than it releases.After a meal has been digested and glucose levels begin to drop, insulin secretion is reduced, and glycogen synthesis comes to a hault. When it is needed for energy, glycogen is broken down and converted into glucose again. Glycogen phosphorylase is the primary enzyme of glycogen breakdown. For the next ten to tweleve hours, glucose derived from liver glycogen will be the primary source of blood glucose to be used by the rest of the body for energy. Glycogen is ideal for feeding the muscle cells since it does not break easily, not even from osmotic pressure. Eating small amounts of carbohydrates more often, is another way to maintain the level of blood sugar without increasing the insulin level to a point where it leads to weight gain. Over eating of any nutrient, whether it be carbohydrate- simple or complex, protein etc, would always lead to weight gain. This happens essentially since the body is unable to utilize the extra nutrients and stores it for future use in the form of fat! Being prudent while selecting what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat essential for all purposes, whether it be losing weight, gaining weight, gaining muscle mass (bodybuilding) or even maintaining the state of body.
Low Carbs Don’t Cut it!
While women benefit and do not store as much glycogen as men according to this article , they still had significant increases in glycogen retention. These well trained female athletes obtained the increases in glycogen by increasing their intake of carbohydrates to 78% of macro-nutrient intake. The increase in glycogen retention allowed them to perform better in physical performance. Increased performance leads to muscle enhancement and strength increase/output. Carbohydrate feedings maintain blood glucose levels, reduce muscle glycogen depletion during prolonged exercise, and enhance physical performance. There are countless studies that show this to be a proven fact. Glycogen also allows for faster recovery after strenuous exercise or physical activity. Carbohydrates are the most important macro-nutrient in the athlete’s diet because CHO stores in the body are relatively small. After l-3 hours of continuous exercise athletes fatigue due to Carbohydrate depletion. A reduction in blood glucose may result in diminished muscle glucose uptake, a decrease in the rate of CHO oxidation and reduced exercise performance capacity. Conversely, enhanced physical output corresponds well with elevated CHO oxidation values and blood glucose level maintained as a result of carbohydrate ingestion. Therefore, consuming CHO will ensure CHO availability during the latter stages of exercise.
What to take After Physical Activity?
For years experts in the bodybuilding industry always suggested protein right after working out. However as one trains intensely; their blood glucose levels drop dramatically. How does this occur? When an individual starts to exercise, the insulin output of his pancreas goes down. At first blush, this seems backward since the muscles are working hard and therefore require more glucose to be transported from the blood into the cells. There are two reasons more glucose can be transported with less available insulin. The first is that during exercise insulin becomes much more efficient. The mechanism of this effect is not fully understood, but it helps overcomes the reduction in circulating insulin. Second, exercise activates non-insulin mediated glucose transport pathways. These pathways are not sufficient to handle the load in the absence of insulin, but do increase the effective insulin efficiency. Eating fast acting carbohydrates such as dextrose, maltodextrin are great ways to bring back blood glucose levels up to par; it is also a great way to bring cortisol down allowing for TESTOSTERONE TO RISE! Of course, with an ABUNDANT intake of carbohydrates, the amount of maltodextrin needed would be minimal compared to a diet of lesser CHO intake. This article  explains how carbohydrates slow the effects of protein ingestion; allowing one to store more glycogen and protein into the muscles. Protein depends on carbohydrates to help store in the muscles through the uptake of the GLUT-4 glycoprotein. This study finds; that the method of combining carbohydrates and protein allow for more lean body mass and strength accumulation.
Which Carbs Should I Avoid?
Many people wonder what type of carbohydrates they should eat when they are starting to monitor their diet. With the exception of the post workout meal that requires a high-glycemic based carbohydrate to spike insulin levels, low glycemic carbohydrates should be one’s first choice of carbohydrates.
What is the GI system? The glycemic index is a numerical system of determining how fast a carbohydrate triggers an increase in circulating blood sugar and how well the glucose molecules breakdown. The higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response entails. A low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will cause a dramatic spike. Basically, the lower the glycemic index is; the better it is for people who suffer from diabetics and people trying to lose weight/live health lives. There are what on the surface seem to be apparent contradictions. For example, white rice is generally considered to be a high glycemic food, yet there are several white rice entries in the low glycemic list. There are also many good choices that have not as yet been tested such as exotic fruits which are a widely, known to be solid choices in most nutrition plans. As mentioned before eating carbohydrates with protein will lower the GI, making it easier on the lipids and allowing for better insulin response. 
Side Effects Attached
Apart from the benefits of including carbohydrates in the diet, knowing the side effects of being on a low-carbohydrate diet is also essential. A deficiency of any sort in our body is as harmful as having an excess of the same. When something as simple as sleep as disturb our body and health if not taken in adequate amounts, imagine what the deficiency of nutrients which help our body to function can do?? There are enough side effects of a low carbohydrate diet to keep you away from one, read on to know more:
1. Exhaustion: Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy in our body. By opting for a low-carbohydrate diet, we are basically substituting this source of energy with proteins and fat. While it is done to control the level insulin in the body, indirectly we are also restricting the amount of energy released. To add to this, since it takes longer for the human body to metabolize protein and fat, the time taken for release of energy is also prolonged. Not to forget that the body also consumes energy to metabolize food and then transport and absorb nutrients, this creates a further deficit before finally releasing the limited amount of energy. As a result of these actions and factors, a person on low-carbohydrate diet would get exhausted quickly and a general sense of being active is missing at most times.
2. Malnutrition: is an obvious and direct consequence of depriving our body of any essential nutrients. The concept of balanced diet is imperative to be followed and any deviation from the basic needs of the body would undoubtedly result in under nutrition and problems arising from the same.
3. Increase in fat intake: while decreasing the amount of carbohydrate rich food in the diet, the few options left regarding nutrients would be protein and fat. Choosing to eat meat and dairy products which are high in protein (and also fat) lead to an increase in cholesterol levels which would then ultimately lead to heart related problems. It goes without saying that including good carbohydrates in the diet are not just essential for weight loss or bodybuilding, but also for the general well being of the body.
4. Osteoporosis: is another problem which can strike earlier than it should (with age) when on a low-carbohydrate diet. A diet rich in protein would result in the release or loss of calcium from the body through the urinal process. This deficit in calcium would directly have effects on the chemistry and strength of bones leading to osteoporosis.
5. Ketosis: an increased intake of protein (when on a low-carb diet) results in a higher production of ketone. This is an acidic molecule found in blood vessels. These extra ketones affect the kidney by making it harder of it to perform essential functions.
6. Bad Breath: a surprising and rare side effect of a low- carb diet, bad breath is a result of extra ketones in the blood.
7. Digestive problems: by restricting the intake of carbohydrates in our body, the fiber content of the food we eat is also affected. Since most fiber rich foods are rich sources of carbohydrates, these are obviously omitted from the daily diet. Fiber, as is known, aides in digestion and helps to expand the intestines thus helping the passage of food. A common and immediate effect of fiber-deficient diet is constipation.
Now I ask you, are carbs really bad? From what I can tell you, they have a positive effect on your health, sense of well being, positive effect on testosterone ratios/total testosterone, glycogen retention/resynthesis, muscle growth, and energy production/utilization. I would say a moderate to high carbohydrate diet is a GREAT idea. In the course of working towards our goal to achieve the perfect body shape and size, it is natural to explore and learn the best ways to complement our time spent exercising. It is also obvious that working out alone, even for 2-3 hours a day will not be beneficial unless accompanied by a change in our lifestyle. A change in lifestyle does not mean depriving the body of essential nutrients or even starving the body. The easiest way to make an effective change is to make the right food choices. Carbohydrates are essential for the well being of our body and mind. Even when trying to lose weight, carbohydrates are essential. It is not carbohydrates which are to be omitted but you only need to choose to eat good carbohydrates to achieve the goal you have set for yourself. Besides, helping in achieving the size zero or six pack abs, a diet rich in the correct form of carbohydrates will also help you to maintain what you have achieved!
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