Do You Know Your Carb Tolerance? A Simple Guide to This Crucial Dietary Figure
Via STACKCarbs don't exactly have a great reputation these days. You've probably heard something about how carbs spike your insulin levels, and if insulin is the "fat storage hormone," then carbs must make you fat…right? That topic is a whole article in itself, but the main thing you need to know is that carbs do not make you fat. Only overeating does. But, that's not to say carbs are beneficial for everyone. Some people thrive on loads of carbs and feel great when eating them, while others feel sick by just looking at a potato. How can that be? The reason carbs affect people differently is due to something called carb tolerance. Carb tolerance is the reason there's so much conflicting research on low-carb dieting. Certain studies found that low-carb groups came out on top when it came to fat loss, yet others found high-carb groups fared better. A 2016 study found that women who were carb intolerant lost more weight on a low-carb diet and were also more adherent to a low-carb diet as compared to a high-carb diet. Now, this doesn't mean carb intolerant individuals can't lose weight on a high-carb diet. They certainly can, and over the long-term, it seems they lose weight as effectively on a high-carb diet as they do a low-carb diet.
What is Carb Tolerance?Simple: it's how well your body tolerates carbs. As I previously mentioned, people have varying responses when it comes to consuming carbs. This mostly comes down to two factors:
- Their genetics
- Their insulin sensitivity
- Brain fog
- Increased hunger
What to Do if You're Carb IntolerantAlthough the simplest way to know if you're carb intolerant is if you experience the aforementioned symptoms after consuming carbs, a doctor can also run some tests (such as an oral glucose tolerance test and a fasting blood insulin test) to help you know for sure. If you have reason to believe you're carb intolerant, here are some tips on how to make the most of it.
- Decrease your carbs. You don't necessarily have to go full no-carb, but slowly decreasing your carb intake until you find a sweet spot with few symptoms is a great idea.
- Get down to a low body fat. Studies have shown that higher body fats are typically associated with a lower insulin sensitivity, so if you want to optimize it, getting lean should be one of your priorities.
- Make sure you train with resistance frequently. Something that most of you are probably doing already, but for those who aren't, now's the time. Resistance training has been consistently shown to improve insulin sensitivity in people with or without diabetes.
- Get a good night's sleep. Sleep is so underrated for muscle growth and fat-loss purposes, and its effects on insulin sensitivity are well documented. For example, in one study reducing sleep to 4 hours resulted in immediate decrease in insulin sensitivity and other health markers.
- Reduce your stress. Along with sleep improvement, stress reduction is a very underrated method of improving your results, including insulin sensitivity. High levels of mental stress cause high levels of "stress hormones" to stay active in your system, which ultimately leads to insulin resistance.
- Why You Need Carbs to Build Strength and Size
- Why Carbs Aren't the Enemy
- The Performance-Wrecking Flaw of Low-Carb and High-Carb Diets