If you’re active and health-conscious, you’ve probably already made eating healthy a priority. The question is: what makes for a healthy meal when it comes to macronutrients like carbs?
Everyone seems to have an opinion on this, and the opinions don’t always agree.
You’ll often hear that you should have a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast to give you an energy boost at the start of the day, then avoid carbohydrates in the evening. In reality, the opposite seems to be most appropriate meal plan for anyone looking to get leaner.
A lot of modern studies suggest that eating protein & fat as a source of energy for breakfast and carbs later on in a day may help you to stay focused, burn fat, and sleep better.
Little science stuff: Neurotransmitters and the Glycemic Index
There’s scientific reasoning behind why protein and fat are good for you in the morning. The glycemic index (along with Glycemic loading) is a number measuring how fast the carbohydrates in a particular food will raise your blood glucose levels.
Carbs and weight loss
In general, if you are aiming to lose weight, you should eat foods with a glycemic index under 50. Typical carb-heavy breakfast foods, such as porridge, and cereals and especially bagels have a high glycemic index. Cornflakes, for instance, have a glycemic index of about 81.
Most proteins are much lower. Protein also boosts neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and acetylcholine. These increase focus and drive and will help you to concentrate throughout your day.
Controversial Breakfast worth a try
If you want to eat a healthy and fuel-filled breakfast, you want something with protein and good fats. Both nuts and meat will provide you with long-term energy and keep your blood sugar stable. You’ll also get good portions of protein and healthy fats. A protein-filled breakfast will help you to stay energized and focused but without the crazy yo-yo spikes in insulin. Meats such as steak, turkey burgers, and chicken breasts are great options. Throw in a handful of your favorite nuts on the side. If you’re allergic to nuts, you can substitute low-fructose fruits such as avocado, blueberries, strawberries, or nectarines.
If you’re a vegetarian or otherwise don’t feel like eating meat for breakfast, eggs are another great source of protein and healthy fat. They’ll also provide you with a right amount of vitamin D, choline, and selenium, and they help to improve both insulin sensitivity and heart health.
Eggs: Egg Whites or Whole Eggs?
If you’ve heard people tell you that egg whites are healthier than whole eggs, stop listening to those people. Egg yolks are a rich source of choline, which improves your attention span. Whole eggs also help to improve your insulin resistance and lipoprotein metabolism, as proven in a 2013 scientific study. Eating just the egg whites will deprive your body of valuable nutrients.
Nutrition and training:
Your muscles will always favor carbohydrate as a source of energy when it comes to intense workouts
Fueling up with a meal consisting of not just protein and fats but also little carbs an hour before workout is going to be much more efficient, the key here is to select sources that will not cause your blood sugar levels to rise too high.
Focus on low GI type of carbohydrate source (whole grain such us brown rice for example) to get a regular fuel before your workout.
When it comes to your post-workout nutritional needs, you should always refuel with high-quality carbohydrate and protein.
Adding little high GI carbs post workout will help replenish glycogen lost in your muscles quicker.
Insulin growth factor will raise up, and you get into the favorable anabolic zone (which is when your muscle recover well, and growth accelerates in density and size).
If you have diabetes, you’ll need to take care of the insulin here off course so make sure you check your blood sugar levels first.
Some final tips on Carbohydrate timing
If you’re exercising in the middle of the day, include some carbohydrates in a breakfast or lunch to supply your muscle’s glycogen. Otherwise, the perfect time to eat carbs seems to be in the evening and second best time is right after intense cardio or weight lifting session.
Although this goes against the recommendations of many health recommendations, eating the majority of your carbohydrates during dinner may help you to lose fat and retain muscle mass.
In 2013, a study conducted by 78 Israeli police officers found that over six months, the officers who ate carbohydrates at dinner had more beneficial hormonal profiles and lost more fat. Eating carbs in the evening lengthened the curve of leptin secretion, meaning they felt full for longer the following day and burned more fat. Carbs at dinner also help to secrete serotonin, leading to a good night’s sleep.
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