In this article I want to talk about carbohydrate versus protein and clear up any confusion there may be about both essential macronutrients.
First off let me quickly clarify what both of these macros essentially are.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and provide important nutrients for good health and a healthy, balanced diet. All the carbohydrates you eat and drink are broken down into glucose, and our brain is the most glucose hungry organ in the body.
Think breads, pasta, rice, potatoes etc.
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential to building muscle mass. … Protein makes up about 15 percent of a person’s body weight. Chemically, protein is composed of amino acids.
Think chicken, steak, fish eggs etc.
Now why is that one macro (carbs) gets a bad rep? And the other (protein) get a good rep?
We have all heard people talking about carbs making you fat, gotta cut carbs to lose weight, ‘no carbs before Marbs’ and all that bollocks?
Yet when it comes to protein, this is deemed as the holy grail for building muscle and getting lean with a lot of people who train, obsess over getting it in every meal (and by the way you should be wanting to get a good amount of protein in every meal).
BUT, I’m about to tell you something that you MAY or MAY not know.
Both carbs and protein contain the SAME amount of calories PER GRAM!
That’s right, 1 gramme of carbohydrate and 1 gramme of protein contain 4 calories – so how can one be deemed as bad and the other be deemed as awesome?
I’m about to tell you below.
1) Its KEY to understand that for every 1 gramme of carbohydrates you INGEST you also store 3 grammes of water! That’s why if you have ever had a heavy carb day or session on the beers (lots of carbs in beer) you can wake up feeling bloated and puffy with the scales also saying you have gained a shed load of weight.
Remember it’s very hard to gain a LOT of fat overnight, to gain 1lb you would have to be in a 3500 calories surplus over whatever else you have expended through activity in the day. This is why I always tell people to take the scales with a pinch of salt the day after a heavy carb day as they will not give you a true reflection.
Look you can still lose weight eating a LOT of carbs as long as you are in a daily deficit. It just may not show as fast on the scales as if you cut out carbs altogether (not sustainable we have already established).
2) Its EXTREMELY EASY to over eat on carbs! We all have story of how we binged on cakes, biscuits, bread, pizza, pasta yet you’ll never hear someone tell you how they binged on chicken breasts, salmon or turkey!
Why is this? Well the impact on our brain’s neurotransmitters are completely different when eating carbs in comparison to protein. Often, eating certain carbs act as a trigger in the brain, releasing feel good chemicals and making us want to keep on eating them whereas with protein this doesn’t happen. Also have you ever eaten a slice of toast and easily gone on to eat 7 or 8 slices? Yeah me too, pretty easy right? Yet try eating 3 chicken breasts back to back and your gonna start to struggle come number 3.
This is critical to know and will help you move away from food or macro labelling in the future. Its not carbs that are the problem it’s just that we tend to over eat them. To avoid this, firstly make sure you are not cutting carbs altogether as this will often lead to the binge I have spoken about previously.
And secondly make sure the carbs you do eat are not the ones that send you off into a frenzy and make you feel out of control and lead to overeating (for me this is chocolate rice cakes – therefore I don’t keep them in the house).
I hope you got some value from this and now understand that carbs are NOT bad and contain the same calories in equal measures as protein and are essential as part of a balanced diet.