Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

In recent years dietary fats have been pushed aside and carbohydrates seem to be public enemy number one. It only takes a quick search on the internet to be informed by a self-proclaimed nutrition expert that pasta will make us fat and sugar will give us cancer; whilst another nutritionist will tell us that we need carbohydrates to keep our metabolism healthy and lose fat. It is no wonder we are confused as to whether these little molecules of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are friend or foe.

So what’s the truth?

All carbohydrates are derived from plants; which means in their natural state, think sweet potatoes, rice, carrots, dates, raspberries and wheat- they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. All of which protect us from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, when we take a natural carbohydrate and refine it, process it and add fats and artificial chemicals to it, that’s when it can be unbeneficial (detrimental) to our bodies. So potatoes dug up from the ground and boiled until soft are rich in potassium, magnesium, folate vitamin B and iron; but when we peel, slice and fry a potato in rapeseed oil then add salt and preservatives to it to make crisps, we remove the nutrients and fibre whilst increasing the fat and salt content. Effectively the crisp making process turns a nutrient dense food into a nutrient sparse one. The same goes for bread, we automatically associate it with making us gain fat; but a minimally processed wholegrain loaf is rich in fibre and B vitamins, only when we play with it – for example refine it and remove its fibre to turn it into white flour then roll it thinly and top it with cheese, tomato and pepperoni does it turn into something that can easily cause excess fat storage.

So, if we eat carbohydrates in their most natural state, they provide us with nutrients essential for optimal health. That does not mean we can eat as much fruit, vegetables and potatoes as we like though; we must consider the type, timing and amount we consume in order to ensure healthy body composition, good energy levels and our best sporting performance.

Carbohydrate Types

Carbohydrates are split into two main types. The first is starchy carbohydrates often referred to as slow release, which include foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes and wholegrain bread. These foods are often high in fibre which is great for gut health and broken down into smaller particles of sugar and slowly absorb into the blood stream to provide a regular trickle of energy to the body.

The other type of carbohydrates are simple sugars, often referred to as fast release. These are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and provide an almost instant source of energy- although this energy does not last for long. Simplesugars are found in table sugar, jelly sweets and fruits. Both starches and sugars have health and performance benefits for us.

Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, which is less than half of dietary fat; however, we still have to consider the amount of carbohydrate we consume, especially if we are looking to lose weight. Put simply, if we consume more calories than we expend, even if we get them from vegetables, we will put on weight.

Carbohydrates raise our blood glucose levels- this triggers the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role is to decrease blood glucose to safe levels by directing glucose into muscle cells and the liver. We do not want continuously elevated insulin levels as this can prevent fat breakdown, so if weight loss is our goal we need to ensure are carbohydrates only take up a quarter of our plate at meal times and choose higher fibre options.

Using Carbohydrates Effectively

If we are training frequently and looking to improve our strength or endurance performance, then we need a higher amount of carbohydrates to fuel our training and support our recovery. At all meal times we should be choosing starchy carbohydrates, however immediately after a training session we would benefit from choosing quicker release to start the recovery process quickly. If a training session, especially endurance, is over 60 minutes then our performance would benefit from a very fast release carbohydrate during our workout to keep our body fueled.

A typical day could look like;

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with milk, pecans and raspberries
  • Snack: 1 pear
  • Lunch: Avocado, feta and quinoa salad
  • Snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Immediately post workout: glass of milk, handful of dried dates
  • Dinner: Bean and vegetable curry with wholegrain rice

The take home message is that we should be nourishing our bodies with natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to lose fat and improve our health and our performance; we need to simply consider the time, type and quantity we are consuming. It’s time to end our carb-phobia for good.

Omega 3, coconut oil, butter and other healthy fats melt styrofoam

You may have seen the video that has been circulating the internet recently. Its shows a high quality Omega 3 oil from Reflex Nutrition dissolving a polystyrene cup. That’s nothing new to us as there are countless healthy oils which will melt straight through polystyrene including virgin coconut oil, butter, MCT oils, lemon oil and many others, some faster than others. The real irony is that the person who created that video is a huge fan of Reflex products and was actually using the test to demonstrate the product’s quality. Of course, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about videos and whilst we’d prefer not to have had this potentially negative publicity, we’re glad this has come to light because it raises a real issue that you should be aware of;

Polystyrene is not ideal for foods

Polystyrene is made up of long chain polymers and the non polarity of polystyrene therefore makes it excellent for liquids which are highly polar. However that’s about all its good for.
The trouble with polystyrene is once it comes in contact with medium chain fatty acids (e.g coconut oil) or worse still long chain fatty acids (e.g any omega 3 fatty acids) which all are non-polar they will start to dissolve because they are similar in polarity. It’s one reason why water and oil do not mix – they are polar opposites! Guess what is polystyrene made from? You guessed it, it is oil.

Omega 3 ethyl ester fats are generally far more concentrated than standard triglyceride Omega 3s and in addition the ethyl ester structure is even more non-polar and will dissolve polystyrene faster.
But Why Ethyl Ester in the first place ?

Reflex Nutrition use Omega 3 ethyl ester fats in preference to triglycerides for three very valid reasons;

  • Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats are the result of molecular distillation which results in one of the purest Omega 3 products in the world, a tried and tested manufacturing process.
  • Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats are factually the most researched form of Omega 3 in the world today, with nearly all of most highly praised, most positive and health promoting studies conducted used Omega 3 ethyl esters.
  •  Finally it is more cost effective to manufacture Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats and as a result Reflex Nutrition’s Omega 3 offers great value delivering 330mg EPA and 220mg DHA from sustainably sourced fish.

On top of these high quality credentials, Reflex Omega 3 is sourced from a partner that Reflex Nutrition has been working with for over 10 years that delivers both the quality and potency we demand but also the guarantee that the Omega 3 oil comes from fish that are sustainable.

http://www.friendofthesea.org/
It’s safe to say either form will offer benefit because ultimately either ethyl ester or triglyceride Omega 3 will both build up over time in very similar concentrations to deliver the health benefits associated with consumption of EPA and DHA, here are the amounts needed, as per EU Health Claims, for those benefits.
Maintenance of the normal brain function- required daily amount 250 DHA, in theory that’s 2 x Reflex Omega 3 capsules
Maintenance of normal cardiac function– required amount 250mg EPA/DHA, in theory that’s 1 x Omega 3 capsule per day.
Maintenance of normal blood pressure – required daily amount 3,000mg EPA/DHA, in theory that is 6 x Omega 3 capsules per day.
Maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentration of triglycerides – required daily amount 2,000mg EPA/DHA, in theory that is 4 x Omega 3 capsules per day.

Now for something that is worrying;
We all have a genuine duty of care to let the public at large know about this so please share this post.
Bullet proof coffee which has become very popular over the past year or so is coffee made with either the addition of coconut oil, butter or both. Fine when it’s in your favourite mug, not so if you decided to make a takeaway coffee bullet proof that was served in a styrofoam polystyrene cup. AS SOON AS YOU ADD THE COCONUT OIL OR BUTTER THE POLYSTYRENE WILL START TO DISSOLVE INTO YOUR COFFEE AND CONTAMINATE IT.
Very few people realise this and it’s made worse because the coffee is going to be hot which will speed up the reaction. There was an important studied published just last year highlighting this very problem.
See it here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25569333
Whilst it will not dissolve immediately it can and has caused polystyrene fail causing the hot contents to spill! However the most worrying and potentially harmful aspect we can see is the silent and unknowing ingestion of dissolved polystyrene on a regular basis. It’s something everyone should know.
Spread the word on the health benefits of Omega 3 fats, but equally important, please spread the word as regards the potential issues of using polystyrene cups and any oils!