The key factor to fulfilling several health and fitness goals – from weight loss to muscle gain – is carbohydrate (glucose) regulation within the body. Carbohydrates come in various forms based on their glycaemic index, which rates how quick a sugar is digested within the body. Fast digesting carbohydrates are known as high glycaemic, examples of which are sweets and honey. These types of foods cause rapid spikes in glucose (blood sugar), which if left is detrimental to health and leaves the body in a hyperglycaemic state. Your body combats this by releasing a powerful hormone from the pancreas called insulin. Insulin channels this sugar into cells of the body to be stored – the fate of this glucose and other nutrients circulating the blood stream boils down to a few crucial factors:
Muscle activation creates an environment where in which the muscles are sensitized to glucose elevation. This creates what gym rats consider to be the ‘golden window’: a 1 hour time period after you train where the consumption of high glycaemic carbohydrates (accompanied with whey protein) create an optimized environment for muscle growth and recovery. This allows the muscles to rapidly go into recovery mode and absorb these valuable nutrients to replace what has been spent during the training session. If this environment hasn’t been created, then the distribution of this glucose is less favorable to your fitness goals and is more likely to be channeled and stored in fat deposits.
If your diet is comprised mainly of carbohydrates – particularly high glycaemic carbohydrates – then your body becomes more insulin resistant. This is when the storage cells of the body become desensitized to insulin, therefore the body increases the secretion of this hormone. When this happens the body’s predisposition to gain fat is increased. With this in mind, ensure that the carbohydrates you eat throughout the day mainly consist of low-glycaemic, natural foods, such as sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice and oats.
If you regularly miss your 8 hours of daily sleep, identifiable with symptoms including tiredness and mood swings, then you are greatly reducing your body’s ability to process glucose efficiently, among many other health risks. Asides from this metabolic disruption, lack of sleep also leads in an increased appetite for high caloric foods and foods that provide a fast energy yield, such as sugar.