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The Correlation Between Exercise & Nutrition

In part 1 of my 3-part series on Counting Calories, we looked at the type of food you ate and not the number of calories as the key to your weight-loss.

But that’s only 1/3 of the equation. Part 2 looks at the correlation between exercise and nutrition, starting with one diagram that has wrongly been telling you what to do for so many years; the food pyramid.

That is the reason our nation and nations around the world are getting fatter and sicker than ever before. It obviously has some good information, like eat your vegetables, drink water, get your protein and eat some fruit here and there. That’s where it stops for me, as the whole grain and carbohydrate panel is the main culprit for you being overweight, and why you always crave certain foods.

I mean how can you be hungry after eating 3-4 slices of white bread with jam or feel like you need a nap after eating a bowl of pasta? 

Now, before we go on, I want to say carbohydrates are GOOD and have a place in everyone’s lifestyle, so don’t think this blog is saying all carbohydrates are bad because they’re not. The disclaimer is, it depends on timing, frequency, and type.

When it comes to exercise, carbohydrates are a fuel source only needed above roughly 80% of max heart rate, and for the everyday person, this won’t be very often.

Let’s say I do a circuit class at a gym for 30 – 45-minutes or go for an interval run session, my heart rate will probably get above this, but only for a portion of the workout. Depending on how hard you want to go, you may want to add some carbohydrates from a real food source (Banana, apple, oats, blueberries, etc) not refined foods like cheap muesli bars, Gatorade, lollies, bread, etc.

However, most people already have enough stored energy to get through that session without the need to fuel up!

Now the rest of your working day will be below 80% of your max heart rate, so the need to consume copious amount of carbs isn’t necessary, and only increases energy storage, because you won’t be using the fuel sitting at your desk. 

Even people with “active jobs” like tradies won’t get anywhere near that. The message to my athletes and clients is simple, only place good quality carbs around hard training sessions.  The rest of the day you should be aiming to minimise them significantly.

I recommend the upper limit of carbs for big guys who are very active is between 100-125g per day (with most carbs coming from vegetables and fruits. A banana for example will give you 23g, but also plenty of nutrients. 2 slices of white bread, on the other hand, will give you 25g, but minimal nutrients and leaving you feeling hungry (hormonal response or lack thereof). The rest of your food should come from good quality fats and proteins.

For the female office worker, I recommend the total target between 50-75g per day, with the eventual goal over a 12 – 24-month period to get the daily percentage of carbs below 20% at the most.  Personally, I think below 15% is the best for being lean year-round.

If you’re a person counting calories and consumed 2000 per day, you would eat a maximum of 100g (20% of 2000 is 400 Calories, 400 calories in 100g of carbs, given 1g of carbs is 4 calories).

So 15% would be 75g per day. If you follow the food pyramids recommended 45-60% that puts you at 225g and that’s a lot of carbs and more importantly a hormonal disaster!

So the bottom line for the exercise component, if the plan is to go for a low to a moderately intense session like a ride, run, swim, gym, or walk, then carbs won’t be the primary fuel source. You shouldn’t need to eat any, given that the intensity doesn’t breach ~80% of max heart rate. If you want to go hard, then add some good qualities carbs 60-90 minutes beforehand (not lollies).

If you want to get ahead with your nutrition, click here to book in with our in-house Nutritionist.


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