Whole Grains and Metabolic Efficiency

A major goal that I have when working with athletes and their nutrition is to balance their blood sugar. By doing this, it is possible to teach the body to burn more fat (by controlling the hormone insulin). My metabolic efficiency concept works on this same platform of controlling blood sugar and up until now, I have asked athletes to minimize their consumption of whole grains and starches. Not that whole grains are the "bad guys" or detrimental to health. In fact, they provide many nutrients that are great promoters of health.

However, because most grains contain an overly abundant carbohydrate load and are not balanced in their carbohydrate to protein ratio, they can send the blood sugar spiking if not combined strategically with good sources of lean protein. I normally recommend a ratio of 2 or 3 to 1, carbohydrate to protein, at all meals and snacks for athletes. This ratio seems to best control blood sugar levels which maximizes the body's use of fat as energy by controlling insulin levels.

In the early stages of my metabolic efficiency plan, I ask athletes to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats and reduce whole grains. This is in an effort to reduce the overall carbohydrate load of the diet. Not to promote a low carbohydrate diet but to get the carbs to where they should be (moderate) and balance out the other beneficial nutrients (protein and healthy fat).

Well, there may be a different strategy now when it comes to improving the body's metabolic efficiency and enjoying starches at the same time. Enter Zone Living. Remember the Zone Diet by Dr. Barry Sears? His concept was (and still is) centered on combining foods to elicit a positive blood sugar and insulin response in the body. He has taken this to a whole new level now with the introduction of his baked goods line.

Very interesting concept for sure. Zone Living has developed starches that are balanced in their carbohydrate to protein ratio. In fact, all of the products fall into the 1.5 to 1 (carbohydrate to protein) range. Bagels, bread, brownies (yes, brownies), cookies, flatbread, pizza crust, croutons, dinner rolls, cinnamon buns, pasta, bagel chips, pretzels, granola and cereal round out their portfolio of baked goods.

Recently, I had an opportunity to try many of their baked good products and I must say, from a taste perspective, they satisfied the craving for starch that is often accompanied by athletes undergoing a high volume of training. Satisfying the starch craving and providing a blood sugar stabilizing effect while promoting metabolic efficiency. Is it too good to be true? Before the Zone Living baked good line, I would have said yes but now, I do believe that these products can be part of any metabolic efficiency plan.

If you choose to eat starches, they may as well provide the most bang for your fat burning ability.

Check out the Zone Living baked good products at www.zoneliving.com. I think you will be pleasantly surprised on how well they contribute to your health and performance goals without increasing your total carbohydrate load too much.

Coach Bob