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Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Mmm, bread. There’s a good chance you love the stuff. And if you can, somehow, turn down a basket of rolls at a restaurant, some other carb probably tempts you. Have you ever wondered why we love eating pasta, pizza, burgers and plain old bread so much? Carbs (not unlike cocaine) give you a rush.

With a new year upon us, there’s a high probability you’ve decided to get in better shape. This involves lessening your bread/carb intake. But this isn’t easy, even if you think of yourself as a motivated and strong-willed individual. You see, carbohydrates create cravings in your brain and can create intense longing for them.

Sure, carbohydrates aren’t a drug, but in the same way coke can wreck your brain, carbs can wreck your body.[1] While some carb lovers may be pointing to the food pyramid for justification, keep in mind that graph was created in the 70’s, long before obesity became such an epidemic.

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health says,

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“You could live your whole life and never eat a single carbohydrate—other than what you get from mother’s milk and the tiny amount that comes naturally in meat—and probably be just fine.”

Yes, we need carbohydrates, but our bodies can make them with the good stuff we eat, like leafy greens and even animal fat. We don’t need the refined carbs.

Are carbs necessary?

While we do need a certain amount of carbohydrates to fuel all of our metabolic processes so we can have energy to do things from breathe, digest, run, do work, think, etc. there is too much of a good thing. Especially if the “thing” is refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates will short-circuit your body.

Your metabolism normally stores energy from food so you can use it as fuel later, say for a workout or just getting through your work day. If your diet is packed with carbs (think: bagel in the morning, sandwich at lunch, pasta for dinner), you’re going to reprogram your metabolism, locking your food away as unburnable fat. When you get hungry again you will only want carbs.[2]

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    All carbohydrates convert to sugar in your bloodstream.

    It comes down to is this: the more refined the carbohydrates are, the faster they convert to sugar. But make no mistake, even if it happens slowly, all carbs become sugar.

    When your body breaks down a food, your cells look for glucose to convert into energy. They send this on to the muscles and tissues in your body. If they find themselves with extra glucose, they store it, mainly in the liver, but the rest becomes stored fat.

    Too much of any carbohydrate can lead to chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes since it all ends up as glucose.

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    Reap the health benefits of good carbs

      Don’t worry, this isn’t the article that tells you to drop the carbs cold turkey and ignore the cravings. While that would certainly be an impressive success, for now you can focus on choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These are the carbs that absorb slowly into your system, therefore avoiding those dangerous spikes in your blood sugar levels. These include whole grains, veggies, fruits, and of course beans.

      Minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. While it can be so tempting to pick up a cinnamon bun while shopping at the mall, is it really delicious enough to risk your health over? If you can focus on the long-term effects, saying no to a sweet treat can be simpler.

      Replace refined carbohydrates with vegetables when you prepare or order a meal. One of my favorite tricks is using riced cauliflower in place of rice. It’s excellent in everything from a southern meal to something loaded with curry!

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      And don’t forget you can get enough carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and protein. Start small and order your next burger without the bun – opt for lettuce instead! It’s not about changing your whole eating routine, but rather substituting some of the poorer habits.

      Do what you can to lessen your consumption of pasta, white bread, white rice, and chips in particular. This is so tricky, since these are the items that always seem to be within reach. If you eat regularly throughout the day and keep your blood sugar steady, it can be much easier to say no to these tempting foods.

      Just say no

      The next time your tempted to reach for a slice of bread at a restaurant or order bagel at Panera, remember that you wouldn’t start your day or begin a meal by ingesting drugs, so why would you pay for something so detrimental to your health? It may feel dramatic to think of it this way, but the research is there; refined carbohydrates are unnecessary, unhealthy and unwise. Dare to resist!

      Featured photo credit: Couleur via pixabay.com

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      Samantha Aloysius

      Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology.

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      Last Updated on September 18, 2020

      7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

      7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

      Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

      Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

      1. Exercise Daily

      It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

      If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

      Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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      If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

      2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

      Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

      One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

      This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

      3. Acknowledge Your Limits

      Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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      Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

      Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

      4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

      Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

      The basic nutritional advice includes:

      • Eat unprocessed foods
      • Eat more veggies
      • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
      • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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      Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

        5. Watch Out for Travel

        Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

        This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

        If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

        6. Start Slow

        Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

        If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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        7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

        Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

        My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

        If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

        I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

        Final Thoughts

        Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

        Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

        More Tips on Getting in Shape

        Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

        Reference

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