In part 1 of this 4-part series, you witnessed a couple of the proposed benefits that carbohydrates had for you or your athletes. Now we will look at some more benefits to help sell you even more on the idea.
You have already seen the effects that carbohydrates have specifically on the thyroid gland, but their powerful role in our overall metabolism certainly doesn’t end there. Our body’s fat cells synthesize a potent and extremely supportive protein-based hormone known as leptin. Why is this important? “Leptin doesn’t only scale with body fat percentage; it is related heavily to food intake, specifically carbohydrate metabolism in the fat cell.”1 And leptin, ladies and gentlemen, is one of our body’s key signalers for decreasing appetite, reducing fat storage/weight gain, and increasing energy production. Suffice it to say without Leptin in our bodies, we would be doomed.
As I alluded to a little while back, carbohydrates do a fantastic job of elevating one of the most powerful muscle-building hormones in the body, known as Insulin. Insulin, as many of you I am sure already know, is a peptide hormone that is secreted from the beta cells present in our pancreas. This particular hormone still receives an extremely unfair bad rap and probably always will since it plays a strong role in energy storage, most notably fat storage. This is just one piece of the Insulin puzzle, though.
What many people still fail to realize, though, unfortunately, is that even in the absence of Insulin, the body elects an alternative route to successfully store body fat, so it’s not really the insulin so much that is the problem, but rather the mass overconsumption of too much food and other factors that become harmful and toxic to the body. More on this topic later.
SPARES MUSCLE AND ASSISTS IN MUSCLE GROWTH EFFORTS
Insulin is essential in preventing protein breakdown or degradation and sparing precious muscle mass. One of the primary ways insulin accomplishes this is by inhibiting the stress hormone Cortisol from inhibiting the extremely powerful and influential amino acid known as Leucine which is partly responsible for muscle growth.
Moreover, Insulin activates and influences several key pathways involved in muscle growth, including the protein MTOR, which is a vastly popular sub-topic in muscle building arena these days. So much so that MTOR has been labeled as one of the most important muscle-building factors in the human body at this point. In case you are wondering, MTOR stands for Mammalian Target of Rapamycin.
Last but not least, Insulin has impacts on Testosterone levels and eventual muscle building since it works to prevent Testosterone from binding to SHBG, which reduces Testosterone’s ability to operate and grow muscle.
SUPPLIES ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS FOR BODILY FUNCTIONS
Carbohydrates, as many of you already know, are going to be a major source of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, along with everything that these types of micronutrients have to offer us with performance. These nutrients are needed in small amounts relative to their bigger counterparts in order to create and maintain proper physical and mental functioning in the human body. Here is a very short list of benefits for each, compliments of Dr. Heather Fink in her book Practical applications in Sports Nutrition:
#2-Increase energy breakdown and production
#3-Increased neurotransmitter levels
#4-Improved immune functioning
#6-Bone and tooth formation
#9-Blood pressure regulation
#1-McDonald, Lyle. “Bodyweight Regulation Wrap-Up: A Few More Hormones.”Bodyrecomposition, Lyle McDonald, 16 Aug. 2015, bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/bodyweight-regulation-wrap-up-other-hormones.html/