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Carbohydrates And The War On Nutrition

Week 1 nearly over in my strict, low carb nutrition regime in my effort to lower body fat and get in better physical condition. I would be lying if it wasn’t a struggle at first. Especially coming home from a class on Monday to one of my house mates scoffing a pizza. At 3pm. Bastard. More on my struggles and how I am feeling now in a blog early next week including how, by day 2, I have even disgusted my Dad with my yearly diet habits (actually, wasn’t that hard it disgust him!). 

If carbs are our body’s natural source of energy, it does not make sense that I should be functioning with a huge decrease in them. "You need carbs", so I've been told. Even though this is my third time going through this process with the results getting better each year. The word ‘Ketosis’ is a word that is often used when describing my current plan. Ketosis is the body burning fat for energy when it doesn’t have enough food. Is this healthy? That is the most important question. If carbs are the primary source of energy and I’m doing all these classes on top of my workouts, should I not be burning out too quickly and constantly have low energy?

So to look at whether carbohydrates are the most important food source, I decided to look at some of the successful elite athletes diets (so no player from my beloved Aston Villa!) and see if they have adopted any nutrition guidelines that would differ from a lot of our conceptions of what we should be eating.

 The auld Food Pyramid. Eat mostly Carbs. What we were brought up to believe. 

The auld Food Pyramid. Eat mostly Carbs. What we were brought up to believe. 

Conor McGregor - UFC Fighter
cGregor has obviously excelled in his field. The current featherweight champion, he’s proved himself to be one of the biggest, yet polarising figures in the fight game. According to George Lockhart, McGregor’s nutritionist, when in an aerobic state, the body uses fat for it’s primary fuel source, not carbohydrates.  He goes on to state that carbohydrates is the body’s main fuel source for anaerobic activity but protein is needed to unlock those stores. So that bodes well for the logic behind why a low carb diet has worked for me.

McGregor has used Instagram to promote ‘Sirtfood’, a new diet craze over the last few years that claims to be able to turn on the “skinny gene”. Categorising certain foods as ‘sirtfoods’, including kale, apples, green tea, dark chocolate (at least 85%) and red wine, consuming them can help you lose weight. Before you see chocolate and red wine and decide to hop on the band wagon, the first 3 days involves eating only 1000kcal a day. This increases to 1500kcal for the next two and a half weeks. I could see it how you would lose weight with that little amount of calories taken (especially water weight in the first week) but I am extremely doubt Conor McGregor uses it rigidly himself on that low amount of calories. Food for thought though, pardon the pun. 

 If this was his diet before his last fight with Nate Diaz, I really hope he changes it!

If this was his diet before his last fight with Nate Diaz, I really hope he changes it!

Tom Brady - NFL Quarterback
A 4 time Superbowl winner, Tom Brady may be the best Quarterback of this generation (American Football fans, I said this generation!). His nutritionist, Allen Campbell (and also nutritionist for super model, and Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen) has him on 80% vegetables! 80%!! That’s a lot different from the now debunked food pyramid! The final 20% being lean meats. Campbell reckons that by eating sugars and carbs, it can make you body acidic and lead to potential diseases.

I don’t think all fruit HAS to be organic as stated by Campbell but on a personal note, no coffee?! Really?! PASS!

 A NFL Quarterback and a world famous Supermodel. Same diet principles. Yeah, I'm not wrapping my head around that one just yet.

A NFL Quarterback and a world famous Supermodel. Same diet principles. Yeah, I'm not wrapping my head around that one just yet.

Serena Williams - Tennis Player
I think it is safe to say that Serena Williams is one of the best tennis players to ever play. She has dominated women’s tennis for years. She actually has been on a raw vegan diet since 2012, showling solidarity for her sister, Venus, who was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome (a debilitating and so far incurable autoimmune disease that causes excessive fatigue) and was recommended to go on a raw vegan diet by her doctor. This hasn’t stopped Serena from winning 7 Grand Slams in the last 4 years, including Wimbledon this summer. 

 'Slightly' different to our other food pyramid

'Slightly' different to our other food pyramid

Other famous athletes that are also vegans include ultra marathon runner Scott Jurek, Conor McGregor’s ‘good friend’ Nate Diaz and former Arizona Cardinal defensive lineman, David Carter.

 David Carter - 300lbs Vegan... Nope, this does not come to mind when I think of a vegan!

David Carter - 300lbs Vegan... Nope, this does not come to mind when I think of a vegan!

LeBron James - NBA Basketball player
LeBron James, like a lot of basketball players including Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant, have credited the Paleo diet for prolonging their careers as well as increasing their performance and stamina.  LeBron recently won the NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavillers and was named Finals MVP, cementing his name in a lot of people’s eyes as the best player in the last 10-15 years. 

He originally wanted to do the diet for just 30 days but said his body “felt good” so he continued on.

 LeBron is great, but I'm not sure he's MJ saving the Looney Tunes great. Just thought I'd add this in. Not exactly relatable to any point... On to the conclusion, it is!

LeBron is great, but I'm not sure he's MJ saving the Looney Tunes great. Just thought I'd add this in. Not exactly relatable to any point... On to the conclusion, it is!

So these are various athletes that have excelled in their field and have completely various approaches to their nutrition to the carb first ideology that a lot of us where brought up to think. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any of their ways are the right way. There are countless other athletes who would heavily rely on carbohydrates that compete with the above athletes mentioned. So which is best for you to do?

The answer is not necessarily what gives the best results but what is most healthy for you! How do you feel on certain diets? How are your energy levels? How do you function?Losing weight is not good for you if you can not function day to day at an optimal level. Our bodies are not all wired the exact same way. We’ve had a lot of fantastic results at Booty Camp on our way and I believe in our way. But I know a few close to me that really struggled with any amount of time on low carbs and have had great results with the likes of Slimming World. And that’s ok.

We all know that there’s no such thing as one workout plan that works for all. But some of us have yet to come to the same conclusion with what we eat as well.