The truth about sports, nutrition and pain!

Archive for April, 2014

Carbohydrates- part 1

I´m a big fan of carbs and I usually eat quite a lot of them. From bread to pasta, to rice, I love them. Although lately they have been getting a bad rap and most people when losing weight are trying to take them out. Even though different studies have shown that the most important factor in these types of diets is the percentage of proteins you eat. In other words, it really doesn´t matter if you go on a low fat diet or a low carb diet, both of them will be more or less effective if you keep your protein intake high (1-3). But anyway, let´s try to explain carbs in simple way.

Carbs are your body´s preferred and most efficient energy source for intense training. Carbs can be stored in the muscle and in the liver as glycogen. Carbs can be divided into two groups more or less, SIMPLE CARBS AND COMPLEX CARBS:

  • Simple Carbs: consists of a single sugar molecule (monosaccharide) or two molecules linked together (disaccharide)
  1. Monosaccharides: Include fructose, glucose and galactose.
  2. Disaccharide:  Which is formed by a combination of two monosaccharide molecules. So for example sucrose (which is table sugar) is formed by the combination of fructose and glucose. And lactose (dairy sugar) is composed of lactose and glucose.

*Simple  Carbs are digested quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, but they also cause a rapid fall after. Meaning you eat these and after a while you are again hungry! That is why you should be careful with simple carbs, especially if they are not natural. Now this doesn´t mean you shouldn´t be eating fruits. Fruits have a lot of fiber and this cause that the rise in blood sugar to go more slowly and on top of that fruits have a lot of phytochemicals (lots of healthy things ;).

  • Complex Carbs: Also know as polysaccharides. Most complex carbs contain fibre and they provide sustained energy without the highs and lows you get after eating simple carbs. You can divide the complex carbs into two groups.
  1. Starchy Carbs : Which include potatoes, yams, oats, beans, brown rice, lentils, green peas, corn, pumpkin, whole wheat.
  2. Fibrous Carbs: Which include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, onions, peppers, mushroom, aubergine, lettuce .

We should try to eat more fibrous carbs because of the fibre. Like I said before, fibrous foods take more time to chew and swallow and they have a low calorie density!!

So to summarize, carbs are not that bad and we SHOULD be eating them. The only thing to watch out for is make sure these carbs are ¨NATURAL¨ and not processed, and when eating carbs remember the word ¨dark¨, meaning, you should be eating ¨dark¨ bread, ¨dark¨ pasta and ¨dark¨ rice. And if you want to lose weight try to switch from starchy carbs to fibrous carbs!!

Hoped you enjoyed it!!



  1.  Hu T, Mills K, Demanelis K, Eloustaz M, Yancy W, Kelly N T, He J, Bazzano L.  Effects of Low carbohydrated diets versys Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 October 1; 176: S44-S54
  2. Loria-Kohen V, Gomez-Candela C, Fernández-Fernández C, Pérez-Torres A, Garcia-Puig J, Bermejo LM. Evaluation of uselfulness of a low calorie diet with or without bread in the treatment of overweight /obesity. Clin Nutr.2012 Aug;31 (4): 455-61.
  3.  Soenen S, Bonomi AG, Lemmens SG, Scholte J, Thisjssen MA, van Berkum F, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Relatively high-protein or ¨low-carb¨energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance. Physiol Behav 2012 Oct 10;107(3):374-80.

Fats- What are they and how do we classify them?

We always talk about fats, protein and carbohydrates but a lot of people really don´t know what they are. So, if they don´t know what they are, how are they going to understand what we are talking about? So in my next blogs I will just try to give a brief description of each macronutrient and some vital information that most people should know. Today we will start with FATS.

We should all know that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, this is more than 1 gram of carbohydrates (which contains 4 calories), and 1 gram of proteins (which also contains 4 calories).

Fats can basically be divided into:

  1. Saturated fats (read more here)
  2. Unsaturated fats.

We used to think that saturated fats were really bad for us (and I did 2 blogs on it), but now we know they are not that bad and should be included in our diet once in a while. You can find saturated fats in these foods: butter, cheese, dairy fat, chocolate, egg yolk, meat fat….with the exception of the tropical oils, saturated fats are primarily animal fats. Saturated fats lack the essential fatty acids you need, so you must balance them with the unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats can be divided into:

  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats. These contain the healthy essential fatty acids.

Essential Fatty Acids- are those that your body can´t make on its own, so they must be supplied through your diet. The two primary essential fatty acids are omega 6 and omega 3. The modern Western diet today is very high in omega 6 fatty acids as compared to omega 3- with a ratio of 20-1. The optimal should be 2:1 (click here for more information).

One of the reasons for this imbalance is our increased consumption of refined grains and decreased consumption of omega 3 rich fish. As well as the industrial production of animal feeds containing grains high in omega 6 fatty acids. Since animals are what they eat, their meat becomes high in omega 6, unlike the leaner and higher omega 3 wild game that our ancestors once ate. As we consume high-omega 6 meats and refined grains, we lose the natural balance we once thrived on and begin to suffer from inflammatory and cardiovascular disease that were once unheard of.  Many of the current diseases develop and exist as consequence of chronic inflammation, such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc. (1-4)

FATS TO AVOID: HYDROGENATED AND TRANS-FATTY ACIDS-  We could say these are the ¨processed fats¨. Hydrogenated oils contain large amounts of chemically altered fats know as trans-fatty acids and these are one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat.  You find these fats in food like: MARGARINE, CRACKERS, DOUGHNUTS, PIES, BISCUITS, FRIED FOOD.  Epidemiologic evidence has linked trans fatty acids (TFAs) in the diet to coronary heart disease in human populations. It has been estimated that dietary TFAs from partially hydrogenated oils may be responsible for between 30,000 and 100,000 premature coronary deaths per year in the United States.  (5).

So in conclusion: Saturated Fats are not that bad and once in a while you can eat them. Unsaturated fats are called the ¨healthy fats¨ and again we should be eating them in our diet. On the other hand, we should really try to stay away from the hydrogenated and trans fats!

Hoped you liked it.




  1. Balkwill F, Mantovani A. Inflammation and cancer back to Virchow? Lancert.2001;357:539-45.Ban WA, Man SF, Senthilselvan A, Sinn DD. Association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and systemic inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax 2004;59:574-80.
  2. Fernandez-Real JM, Ricart W. Insulin resitance and chronic cardiovascular inflammatory syndrome. Endo Rev 2003;24:278-301.
  3. Ross R. Atherosclerosis-an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med 1999;340:115-26.
  4. Seaman DR. THe diet-induced proinflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? J Manipulative Physio Ther 2002;25:168-79.
  5. Zaloga GP1, Harvey KA, Stillwell W, Siddiqui R. Trans fatty acids and coronary heart disease. Nutr Clin Pract.2006 Oct;21(5): 505-12

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