Carbohydrates are probably the most vilified macronutrient of them all in recent times. Quite often, this is for good reason! Many common sources of carbs are either laden with blood sugar-spiking, fast-acting sugars or are full of bloat-inducing gluten. Both contribute to or at least give the illusion of weight gain and not in the right places! This has led to the widespread shunning of carbs amongst those seeking a lean, healthy physique with protein and fat sources winning favour where carbs lose out.
However, with a few slight diet tweaks, we can efficiently turn the fast-release glucose energy from simple carbohydrates into premium muscle fuel. This will enable your muscles to make best use of the food you are eating, giving them greater levels of power and endurance for your next gruelling workout.
The next time you eat a high carb meal, try one of the following tips to help turn your food into muscle, rather than fat:
1. Add a serving or two of cinnamon. This is recommended with sweet foods, especially those high in sugar. Cinnamon has been clinically proven to improve insulin sensitivity, preventing large blood sugar spikes by releasing more insulin. The insulin has the effect of pushing glucose into muscle cells, giving them energy and aiding their growth and recovery.
2. Cacao, the active ingredient in what we know as chocolate, is especially powerful at raising insulin levels similarly to cinnamon, as well as providing a wealth of other benefits (improved mood, antioxidant support and increased muscle strength). Try opting for the dark chocolate option when going out for a dessert or having a few of TPW’s Organic Cacao Nibs after a high carb meal.
3. Supplementing omega-3 fatty acids can certainly help with glucose disposal. The most effective acid in this regard is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). This is abundant in many types of seeds, most specifically in hemp seeds and chia seeds. Try The Protein Works’ Omega Seed Blend alongside or after high carb meals to feel the benefits in your performance and physique.
4. Finally and perhaps most simply, eating a high protein source of food along with a meal high in carbs can significantly improve the body’s release of insulin and thus its nutrient partitioning capabilities. For example, try adding a serving of TPW’s Whey Protein 80 to your sugary dessert/baking recipe or having a whey protein shake to drink alongside your favourite cheat can certainly satisfy that craving for an unhealthy milkshake whilst preventing a performance and weight loss hindering blood sugar spike!
So next time you carb-load (or even fancy a large cheat meal), make your results even more effective by trying one or more of the above tips.
Writter by Brad Trerise
Former tennis player turned commercial lawyer with a passion for health, fitness, weight training and sports nutrition.
 Khan A, Bryden NA, Polansky MM, Anderson RA: Insulin potentiating factor and chromium content of selected foods and spices. Biol Trace Elem Res 24:183–188, 1990OpenUrl
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