Refined carbohydrates and what it did to my energy levels….

Posted on Posted in Diet, Food, Thoughts

Today was the first time in 2 weeks where I pretty much ate “normal” and did whatever I liked instead of keeping to my Intermittent Fasting “eating Lifestyle”.  There was a crumpet for breakfast with chia seeds and soy milk, some Greek yoghurt and mango smoothie. And a coffee with soy milk. The went out and got a skinny flat white. Then morning snack was an ice cream and half an ice block at a friends place. Lunch was some beef noodles, and some broken rice dish.  Then got another skinny flat white. Afternoon snack was a roast pork banh mi. And then there was a couple slices of toast and tried out some kaya a friend gave with butter. After the kaya butter toast, my energy levels plummeted. Was so lethargic it was unbelievable.  I could crawl into bed and go to bed there and then.  For the next 4 hours I was running on 2/10 energy with a small spike after dinner to 4/10 and when I did some weights of exercise.  Currently typing this at about 3/10, probably above 2 because I am concentrating.

So with energy down, my mood was down, face looked unhappy, lethargic, wasn’t pleasant to be around for my family, didn’t feel good, didn’t feel like doing anything (but forced myself to do some house chores anyway), and my head is fuzzy.  I forced myself to do some exercise, which helped while doing them, but didn’t last long.

Compare this to the state i’ve been in for most of the past 2 weeks with Intermittent Fasting.  During fasting and then during and after my canned fish lunch and Nutribullet drink, my energy levels are up all the time, and my concentration is sharp and clear.  There is no dip in energy, no shift in lethargy.  I was happy, energetic, and full of life.  But yes, did go around with this low grade hunger during the fasting period which I got used to and now can easily ignore.

The big differences are, of course, food.  More specifically, refined carbohydrates (crumpets, banh mi roll, rice, noodles) and sugars (ice cream, ice block, kaya).  Probably dairy is another factor but probably not as big (milk, butter, yoghurt, eggs).  As I don’t live in a science experiment laboratory and you can’t clone me, there is no definitive proof, only thoughts and theories.

Simply googling “why do you feel tired after eating carbohydrates?” gives you results like this.  Basically, carbs and sugars increase your glucose levels, which then makes your pancreas secrete insulin, which drops your blood sugar levels.

“What does sugar do? It spikes our blood glucose level, which causes our pancreas to pump out insulin, which causes our blood sugar to drop. This makes us feel sleepy and unable to focus, which makes us crave sugar again.”

Carbohydrates end up turning into sugars so end up having the same effect.  When I say “Carbohydrates” I mean “refined carbohydrates” which have been processed.  These are usually “high GI (glycemic index)” so they are melt in your mouth goodness going down, but basically turn into glucose straight away.  Food with “low GI” are broken down by the body more slowly, so the release of energy is slower, so the body doesn’t shoot up in insulin production as it does with “high GI” food which give you “sugar high” and then make you come “crashing down” with your energy levels afterwards.

  • “Low glycemic index (GI of 55 or less): Most fruits and vegetables, beans, minimally processed grains, pasta, low-fat dairy foods, and nuts.
  • Moderate glycemic index (GI 56 to 69): White and sweet potatoes, corn, white rice, couscous, breakfast cereals such as Cream of Wheat and Mini Wheats.
  • High glycemic index (GI of 70 or higher): White bread, rice cakes, most crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, most packaged breakfast cereals.”

So what is the conclusion to all of this?

While doing Intermittent Fasting you end up getting into Ketosis when your body is using your fat stores for energy.  This is a slow constant “burn” so your insulin levels don’t shoot up like it does when it is processing sugars/carbohydrates for energy. You mind is clear during Ketosis as your brain is being fuelled by “Ketone bodies” produced by the Ketosis process as a source of energy.  Fat is “low GI”, so it makes sense it is a slow energy release, and that is also the point of a Ketogenic diet when you are fuelling your body with mostly fat for your caloric intake of energy (70%+). For example here is a random link about the ketogenic diet.

  • “60-75% of calories from fat (or even more),
  • 15-30% of calories from protein, and
  • 5-10% of calories from carbs.”

Sure, I did like the ice cream, ice block, rice, noodles, kaya, and banh mi on the way down, however, I don’t like the after effects.  I felt better on my Intermittent Fasting state where I didn’t eat for 20 hours and kept my eating within 4 hour window than I did when I ate whenever and whatever I liked purely because the energy level and quality of life experience is so much better. I’m not saying that I’ll never do what I did today again, however, I now know a “better way” and know it is best I restrict my sugars and refined carbohydrate intake as much as possible as it has a big effect on my energy levels.

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