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What Should I Eat As An Introvert? - Part 2

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Since the last post about the importance of carbohydrates in the introvert diet, a number of people have asked about 'carb quality' and whether it is as important for introverts. The simple answer is "yes". Read below for the complete explanation...

Carbohydrate is your body’s goto macro for energy and make up the bulk of a typical Western diet. Carbohydrates are divided into two groups - simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates (see chart below).

Simple carbohydrates, sometimes called simple sugars, include fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and lactose (milk sugar), as well as several other sugars. Complex carbohydrates are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Because they are more complex in structure, the body digests complex carbohydrates more slowly.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES When a simple sugar is ingested, your blood glucose begins to rise. Your body then senses that blood glucose levels are too high and, since it can't simply expel the glucose, stores it in muscle and liver tissue for later use. This brings the blood glucose back down, bringing your energy levels crashing down with it. This is why eating a candy bar for energy is a crock.

Simple carbohydrates cause the body to store fat in two ways. The first is straightforward. Our body stores both simple and complex carbohydrate as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue. Once these stores are full (the liver holds about 100 grams while the body can hold 350-500 grams) the excess is stored as fat. So if you eat too much of anything you will gain body fat.

The second mechanism is indirect. We have already seen that simple sugars cause the blood glucose levels to rise and the body to store any excess. Now, glucose gets inside of muscle by using a special key - insulin. Insulin binds to receptor sites and allows glucose to pass into the muscle cells. This is great for muscle gain, but here's the catch...insulin also acts as a key to store glucose in fat cells and effectively halts all fat burning activity. Consuming protein, by contrast does not have this effect. This is how simple sugars will make you fat (or at least prevent you from losing fat).

That is also why it is especially important not to eat simple sugars with fat. The scenario here is even worse with insulin directly shuttling fat calories into the fat cells. Since most junk foods are exactly this combination, you can see why it is so important to avoid these foods when aiming to lose body fat.

Get in the habit of reading the nutrition facts label on foods to look for hidden simple sugars. Most labels now list the grams of carbohydrate and also specify the amount of sugar. This figure is the simple sugar carbohydrate and you should prefer foods with a low sugar quotient.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES The other carbohydrate type is complex carbohydrate – the good stuff – and some of this will likely be fibre (also commonly listed on food labels). Processed foods have usually been stripped of fiber. Dietary fibre is the part of a plant that is resistant to the body's digestive enzymes. Although fibre is indigestible, it delivers several important health benefits.

Dietary fibre will: • prevent constipation and haemorrhoids. • slow digestion ensuring a constant, steady release of nutrients. • promote a feeling of fullness that helps prevent overeating and hunger. • reduce the risk of colon cancer by speeding the rate at which stool passes through the intestine and by keeping the digestive tract clean. • halt the production of cholesterol by preventing certain substances binding and eliminate these substances from the body.

Carbohydrates low in fibre will tend to be digested very quickly, raising your insulin levels and giving you another good reason to avoid processed food if you want to lose weight.

THE CARB CONUNDRUM How strict should you be about avoiding simple sugars? That depends who are. Some people will need to eliminate white bread, pasta, rice cakes and most breakfast cereals (the sneakiest source of hidden sugar known to humankind – make sure you read the label) to achieve the levels of body fat they are aiming for. And everyone’s health and energy levels would benefit from a carbohydrate intake heavily skewed in favour of complex carbs. My recommendation is to take the transition in stages. For example, switch from white bread to whole-grain bread and see how far this gets you before considering eliminating bread completely. The key is to simply do better than you've been doing and gradually you'll start to see improvement.

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