Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One Tough Challenge

Boxers and Trainers,

One of the biggest challenges you'll face as a boxer is keeping your weight under control. The biggest factor in that challenge are white carbohydrates. White carbohydrates, the so-called bad carbs, are refined and/or heavily processed foods such as white bread, white rice, pasta and potatoes that break down quickly in the digestive system into glucose (sugar) and flood the bloodstream causing blood sugar and insulin to spike. The physiological effects include fast weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and difficulty in maintaining weight regardless of the amount of exercise. The long-term effects take their toll on the liver, causes overall wear and tear on the body, and makes the boxer and trainer focus on weight management instead of boxing skills. The white carb challenge does have an answer by eating certain foods, making small changes over time, and focusing on small snacks throughout the day.

Boxing is hard enough without having to deal with the effects of white carbs. White carbs will cause you to add more weight than other seemingly unhealthy foods, such as a big juicy steak, carnitas tacos, and steak fajitas. That's right, an innocent-looking plate of spaghetti (that has little to no nutritional value) will cause you more weight gain than a good-sized steak dinner. The resulting flood of glucose causes a blood-sugar spike resulting in tiredness, sleepiness, and even blurry vision. Not exactly the best way to enter a boxing match. The innocent-looking white carbs make it all but impossible to deal with weight in a controllable manner, as if you are driving with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

The effects of white carbs are damaging in the long term. The liver is probably what suffers most as insulin levels are constantly trying to keep up with the glucose spikes. Day after day, month after month, and year after year, the liver is working essentially overtime for you. No doubt that losing and gaining weight again and again also takes its toll on the overall health of the body, especially the heart and digestive system. Also, rather than focusing on gaining skill and quality of training, the boxing team instead, especially in the beginning of training camp, focuses on losing weight and increasing quantity of training at the expense of quality.

If there was one answer it would be to cut out white carbs completely. Within a couple of weeks you will notice more energy and see that pounds disappear easily without even focusing on weight loss. But completely cutting out white carbs is neither practical nor would it last. White carbs are everywhere and such a big part of our eating habits. Here are, however, three steps to help you decrease white carbs from your eating habits:

1. Substitute white carbs for good carbs, such as beans, green vegetables, quinoa, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.
2. Make small changes, such as avoiding white carbs only after 2pm in the day. That way, if you eat them, you'll have time to burn them off throughout the day.
3. Eating small snacks (mainly nuts and green vegetables) throughout the day will keep those cravings from getting out of control.

What white carbs do you crave the most?

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