Fun Fitness Fridays #3

Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Friday, July 25, 2008

Wow, I can't believe it's Friday already. Ever have those weeks where everything just clicks together and it just flies by? It's definitely nice, it helps balance out the Murphy Law ones :) Sounds like a lot of you were interested by the last post... and quite a few questions popped up. I'm excited you're all interested, and I hope to answer your thoughts today. You might want to look over to last week and make sure you have a grasp on it... today kind of piles more stuff on top.

So, a key concept we have to understand is role of insulin, and glucagon in the body. While insulin takes the glucose in the bloodstream (aka blood sugar, kintergartners), and stores it away, another hormore called glucagon, does the opposite. They work as antagonists, or kind of like opposites. The role of glucagon is to take stored glucose from the body, and send it into the blood stream, so it can be used for energy. So think of this as a game of tug o' war... a blue and red team, where there is always a kind balance between the two. Maybe one mintue one side has more pull, but other times the other side does.

One important aspect to note is that both hormones cannot exist at exactly the same time. Think of it like night and day, or saving and spending money, or Superman and Clark Kent. While one hormone is being released, the other is not. It's a like a lightswitch. Therefore, you cannot store and use glucose at the exact same time. That kind of makes sense, because if you are eating because you need energy, it'll instantly be used right? You can't store bricks and build a house at the same time...

So we need to control the release of these hormones to reach our goals. Quick quiz... If our Scottish Friend has a goal of weight loss... think of what hormone you want to release, and what one you want to limit. Ready? The answer is glucagon and insulin, respectively. You want to constantly be in an energy burning mode, so you want to limit insulin as much as you possibly can. Why? Because insulin signals glucose storage... and it is impossible to burn carbs and fat for energy while you are trying to store it away.

We can do this easily two ways. Exercise (you probably already knew that), and by eating certain types of carbohydrates. You may have heard of this crazy thing called the Glycemic Index. It has come under a bit of fire recently, and personally, I have a couple problems with it, but overall, it has a lot of truth to it. The concept is that different carbs give different amounts of insulin release.

Examples... if we look at Jelly Beans, which are pretty much just sugar (sucrose). They have a value of 78/100, while Brown Rice has 55/100. What this shows is that if one kid ate 1 lb of jelly beans, while his twin ate 1 lb of brown rice... the first kid would have more insulin released in his body compared to his brother. They would both probably have stomach aches, and while the first kid would be much happier, his blood glucose would have a hard time normalizing, and returning to releasing glucagon. Ever eat Jellie Bellies... something is very wrong about a jelly bean that tastes like movie theater popcorn :) It sort of blows my mind.

So, if you have questions about what kind of carbs to eat, the answer relies behind the glycemic index. That's why TV, books, and nutrition classes stress the usual - Eat whole wheat bread, brown rice, durham flour pasta, sweet potatoes, etc. These 'healthier' carbs also contain fiber, which does many good things for your body, while keeping your insulin response low.

However, there may be times when you want to signal a rush of insulin. This includes whenever you have depleted all of your stored glucose. These crucial times often are before or after a workout, or competition. Some of the runners in the blog universe (they know who they are :) already know this concept. They need their glucose reserves filled... they just used a bunch while running. Weightlifting, heavy yard work, anything physcially demanding requires the same thing.

So Adam, that was a TON to read... what do I need to know for the test? Ok that's easy...
  • Eat low glycemic carbohydrates throughout the day so you can return to a 'energy/fat burning mode' faster
  • Try to have grain based carbs earlier in the day, and eat more vegetables, which tend to have more fiber and water (to fill you up) towards the end of the day
  • Always have protein and/or fat with your meals... it further lowers the insulin response
  • Limit refined, sweet carbs to before or after workout when you need a quick carb refill
  • Fiber is your friend, and slows down insulin, while making you feel full

So there you have it. What to eat and why eat it in a nutshell... carb-wise. Hey look at me I'm in a nutshell... how'd I get in this crazy thing?

I think that's going to wrap up carbohydrates for the day. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me. Good quality, healthy carbs can be quite the asset in your quest to maintaining a healthy weight. Next week... it's going to be all about protein. A bodybuilder know a couple of things about that :) I should go find him...

Oh and couple of thanks: First, thanks Jenn for the shout out in FFF... ya know Finest Foodies Friday... not this FFF. It is quite an honor, my dear. Second, thanks for all the cool Tag comments, it's cool learning about each other. Have a great weekend :)

Dogs here. Jelly beans here

Comments (22)

Really great post, Adam. That concept is one I think many people I've spoken with don't fully get. I know that I couldn't eat the typical runner's diet high in carbs, because, albeit much of it being whole foods, it just never seemed to leave me satiated. I realized that I felt much better when I decreased the amount of carbs so the majority could be whole grains without feeling like exploding, and increased the protein. It's tough figuring out what works, but it all comes together when you finally do.

What? Is it friday again? Didn't we just taked carbs? Very informative, now can I have the jelly beans pleazeeeeeeee ;)

Yep, I'm having one of those weeks - it is quite nice :0)

Another informative post - love these fitness facts you're featuring!

Great post! I love how you load it with so much information, but keep it simple. By the way.. I love the buttered popcorn jelly bean,it must be something about the fake butter flavour that makes me addicted to them!

Yay it's Friday! Carbs are so intricate. And believe me I've studied them a lot since finding the best way to lose weight and most importantly keep it off. My worst worst enemy is sugar. Once I cut out the sugar I was amazed not only how fast the weight came off and stayed off, but how I never had the shakes, the wobbly legs after eating sugar some 3 hours ago. Eating whole grains and protein keeps my sugar in check, thank goodness. I hated when I used to get those shakes and crazy spacey feelings you know?
Thanks Adam, I love your site.

I need to ask you about working with weights. I heard conflicts about doing normal reps. on the weight machines versus doing less reps but at a bit higher weight amounts and moving them VERY SLOWLY. I heard the latter was better for toning muscles faster, but not too high a weight so not to increase muscle size. What do you think?

Hey Adam, that is a very interesting lesson. I went back and read the other two FFF and I just couldn't stop reading. Does that make me a nerd? LOL Great stuff.

You mean my split personalities cannot exist at the same time because of hormones??

I've been seeking an answer to that question since i'm born. Thanks dude! :)

Clumbsy cookie... The jelly beans are MINE!!

Thank you Adam! This is an excellent read, and just what I need :) I'm gonna read your previous FFF posts!

you sound like a doctor Adam :-) thanks for all this info i needed that..we are all gourmet in the family but having knowledge on what are essentials for our body is really important!! have a great weekend to you too..till here i'll be waiting for your next delicious post :-)

What an informative post Adam. Most people don't have the this connection. If they did, you would have a society with less obesity, less diabetes and longer life span. You've done a great teaching job of bringing it down to a lay level - good job.

Great blog, dude. (Got referred here by the Leftover Queen, btw - gotta love the food bloggin community!) My other half is convinced that the best way to lose weight is to skip breakfast and lunch and have one meal daily, usually late afternoon. I'm convinced this is appalling nutritional practice but haven't been able to convince him yet... want to do a post on it?

Adam, please come look at my site. I have a wonderful message for you.:)

Wow, lots of great info!
Congrats on the FFF!

I just discovered your blog through Finest Foodies Friday, and I'm so glad I did! Your post is packed with essential information written in a wonderfully engaging style - which takes true talent! I'm looking forward to the next Fitness Friday!

Just got here from another blog. I just love your blog. Very informative and fun at the same time - an unusual combo!!

Christina - You totally have a handle on the whole concept already. Part of this thing is science and the rest is listening to your body.

Cookie - Haha don't worry carb talk is now over. Have all the jellies you want, just save room for protein next week.

Veggie - Thanks! Glad your week is going nicely too :)

Steph - Thanks a lot. We should team up, I'll trade you the butter ones for whatever you don't like.

Dawn - Sugar and food in general affects everyone differently. Good for you to figure out what your body needs and doesn't need. Feel free to email any weight lifting questions you have.

Ben - Glad you like it Bud. Nerd? Nah. I'm now sure how old you are, but growing up TV always told me 'knowledge is power' :)

Zen - I know it's those dang hormones. They've been wrecking havoc since we were at 8th grade dances.

Dee - Thanks. Glad I could help.

Dhanggit - Haha, really? That's cool... I will be a doctor in 4 months :)

Giz - I couldn't agree more. I'm happy you enjoy the info, and thanks.

Lisa - I'll most likely address diet trends and ideas in a few weeks. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions in the mean time. Oh and thanks for checking me out.

Teresa - Saw it. You're awesome.

Kimi - Thanks!

Astra - Thanks a lot. I checked yours out too, very cool. I like how we think the same way :)

You're so smart!

Adam, you've answered my Qs!:-) thanks a lot, this was a much more informative and easier article for me!

I really like the concept of your FFF. Such great info!

Adam, I loved this post. I have been MIA these last few days so just got a chance to read this. It is really great and you gave some great suggestions like eating grain based carbs earlier in the day (unless its a night run, etc). I try to stick with that rule usually with whole grain waffles and oatmeal in the morning. Can't wait to hear about protein. As a vegetarian...I was wondering if you will be talking about complete protein combos from veg sources. Oh yeah, and I need to add a little more muscle...will you ever show workouts?

Wow, thanks for all of the info. Great blog! I found you on FFF.

Will be back for more education and great recipes!

Nice post Adam. Didnt know about the Glycemic Index. I've always tried to compare rice and wheat as both are grains and both have carbs. Any comparisons/comments?