Harmonize Fitness
Harmonize Fitness



What does net carbs mean?


If you are one of those who are really aware of everything you are eating and you are more focused on macronutrients than just calories you may have heard or read about net carbs.

We know that not all calories are created equal, not all macronutrients are equal and there are also differences between carbohydrates. We also know that everything we eat has an impact on our body so if we have any health issue related to insulin and glucose levels then we need to pay close attention to the type of carbs we eat which is hard to do because there´s so much misleading information and it´s hard to read nutritional labels.

The type of foods you eat which include the type of carbohydrates you eat play a big role on how your body responds, it´s not only how much you eat but the quality of the foods you eat. They both matter.

Nowadays with so many of us looking for healthier options we can find so many healthy bars or healthy products with labels like high protein/low carbs, but this doesn´t mean that they are really “healthy”. There are some companies wanting to have an added value so they create products which are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and high fiber. This is a great strategy since we all know that fiber and protein are important but we know we need to keep carbs low especially when we need to have an eye on insulin and glucose.

As we saw in the importance of fiber post (click the link to learn more about fiber) fiber is a carbohydrates that is not broken down in the small intestine, it get into the large intestine where it is broken down by bacteria.

When we talk about net carbs it´s important to consider fiber because even when fiber is a carbohydrate our body can´t digest it so it doesn´t trigger insulin. So what you need to do to get net carbs is take the total amount or carbohydrates minus fiber, for example: if you have a snack bar which has 25 grams of total carbohydrates and 8 grams of fiber:

25 grams total carbs – 8 grams of fiber = 17 grams Net carbs

Those net carbs are the ones you need to consider because they will trigger insulin. Now there´s a problem with fiber, some companies use fiber sources that are not real or true fibers because they will trigger insulin, we will talk about this in other post to go deeper on which fiber sources are best.

High glycemic carbohydrates are most of the time low in fiber so when you subtract the total amount of carbs minus fiber you´ll end with high net carbs and it will create an spike in insulin, what you want is go for foods that have a lower glycemic index so that when you subtract the total amount of carbohydrates minus fiber you end with lower net carbs.

Now that you know what net carbs means which is actually simple you just need to understand the types of fiber some companies use and whether they can be consider as real sources of fiber that doesn´t trigger insulin or not which we will see on later posts.

There´s a lot of misinformation regarding to nutrition and fitness in general, you may get confused and overwhelmed with all of it so what you want to do is share with you the truth in a simple and effective way so that you can understand and apply all the information as it best serves you. We know it´s a lot of info but remember that you can come back as much as you need to read and learn more.

If you are starting your fitness journey and you´re looking for a simple step that can completely change your life just focus on avoiding all kind of processed, refined and fast foods and focus on eating whole, fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, nuts, seeds. All those unhealthy foods, we know which ones we´re talking about are the ones causing a lot of health problems so just by avoiding them you will see amazing results.

Let us know by leaving a comment on Twitter if you read the labels, ingredients and nutrition facts of the products before you buy them to make sure they are healthy or if you buy just buy the ones that say high protein or low-fat.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.



What is carbohydrate cycling


I know a lot of people who hate bodybuilders but no one can deny that when we talk about nutrition they really know what they´re talking about. They know different tools and strategies we can use to get in amazing shape, one of those tools is carbohydrate cycling. When I tried this tool I was amazed at how well it works, it´s great for fat loss without depleting carbs for long time and it´s great for muscle gains while staying lean.

All the tools or strategies I use and I share with you here are meant to make your life easier and give you amazing results and more importantly that you develop new good habits that lead you to a more healthy and happy life. Carbohydrate cycling is a tool you can use for either fat loss or muscle gains.

We can manipulate carbohydrates as much as we need, we´ve been told that we need carbohydrates because glucose is the preferred form of energy for our bodies, so if we reduce the amount of energy we give to your body we force it to use stored fat as energy.

This strategy can be use if you are following a balanced diet with moderate carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Of course, in diets low in carbohydrates like ketogenic you need to be more cautious. The goal with this strategy is to lower carbohydrates at certain periods of time to lower insulin and also lower calories so that your body use stored fat for energy and increase carbohydrates on the right times to restore glycogen.

Carbohydrates cycling means that we increase or decrease the amount of carbohydrates we consume depending on our goal. We need to be on a caloric surplus to gain muscle and on a caloric deficit to burn fat, with carbohydrate cycling we can gain muscle without gaining to much fat and we can lose fat without losing muscle.

What we do in this strategy is set macronutrient ratios (I explain in other post how to set macros) and keep proteins and fats the same and we manipulate carbohydrates accordingly. To do this we have three carbohydrate days being: high carbohydrate, moderate carbohydrate and low carbohydrate.

Our workout program needs to be aligned with our nutrition program, high carbohydrate days needs to be placed on resistance training days and low carbohydrate days on rest days. We also need to consider calories but if we set our macros right then calories must fit into place.

It doesn´t matter if your goal is fat loss or muscle growth the principles of this strategy are the same, you can also use this strategy for body recomposition which is losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time and have great results.

Body recomp is one of the hardest things to do and most people will say it´s impossible, the truth is it´s possible but it takes time. For guys who are starting their fitness journey and are new to training specially weight training and following a healthier lifestyle is easier to see their body changing. Gaining muscle mass and losing fat at the same time is easier when you are new to resistance exercise.

If you are not new you can still do it effectively but you need to be patient, it will take more time to see results but you won´t regret it. Carbohydrate cycling is a great tool for this by manipulating carbohydrates and calories to have some low calorie/low carbohydrate days and some high calorie/high carbohydrate days.

The whole goal of this strategy and all the others I share is to make any fitness goals simple and more enjoyable so that you get amazing results and sustain them in an effortless way and this strategy is not exception, following a low calorie diet is almost impossible for most of us for long periods of time, we get to a point where the calories are really low and we feel hungry all the time and we end up overeating and giving up.

Having low carbohydrate days with high carbohydrate days is the best option to make it easier for you to stick to a program without feeling hungry all the time and you are giving your body more calories and carbohydrates when it needs them so that you train hard in the gym and it can recover afterwards.

For any nutrition tool I´m assuming that your nutrition program is healthy, your diet focuses on whole fresh foods and you eliminate or avoid refined and processed foods as much as possible so even if I don´t mention to choose healthy options for any macro is because that´s obvious now.

If you have any doubt about this tool let us know by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter, we´ll be glad to help.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.



The problem with refined sugar


Different diets come out and become viral, some guys try them while other critique them claiming they´re unhealthy, but millions of people consume high amounts of sugar per day and it seems to be the least of the matter.

Obesity and overweight are increasing and with that diseases like diabetes are raising too. I believe the cause of this problems is our lifestyle and one of them is the amount of unhealthy food we eat which has a lot of sugar and unhealthy oils. Sugar is everywhere even when it´s not listed as sugar in the ingredients, we´ll find it under names like dextrose or sucrose and many others. Other ingredients like high fructose corn syrup is also harmful and is in so many products. The amount of sugar contained in foods is so high and I´m not only talking about sweets or junk food, even in energetic drinks, cereals or healthy bars. Vegetable and seed oils are also a huge problem because they are found in so many processed and refined foods.

When you eat foods high in sugar, unhealthy oils and trans fats you´ll want to continue eating more of them because they are empty calories, there are no nutrients and there´s no way to stop your brain of thinking or sending signals that you are hungry until you give it the nutrients it needs.

This is what happens when you eat sugar, insulin is the hormone that regulates sugar by getting glucose out of the bloodstream to the cells, when you consume sugar the glucose in the bloodstream goes up and insulin goes up to regulate it and bring it down, over time your body gets tired and don´t know exactly what to do and the result is low blood sugar, this is the first step to diabetes, many people are on this level and don´t know it, your body sends  signals like cravings specially for sweets, everything we eat has an effect on your health and mood.

The spike of highly processed foods with hidden sugar is creating an obesity epidemic in many countries, around 30% to 40% of kids in some countries are overweight or have obesity and diabetes as they grow older the risk increases, diseases get worse and in some cases lead to death. The amounts of sugar consumed per day goes between 25 to 30 teaspoons a day sometimes even 35 teaspoons, that´s a lot considering that our bodies don´t need it.

I believe we can prevent some diseases and lower obesity and overweight by changing our lifestyle and developing healthy habits, just by changing what we eat the benefits are amazing, it´s not only about reducing calories, it´s about what we eat and the impact it has on our body and health.

As I´ve said before, this high amounts of sugar in our diets with the high amounts of unhealthy fats and oils plus the chemicals or ingredients added to those foods are the cause of many diseases and create a vicious cycle that is so hard to stop. We´re addicted to them.

The goal is to avoid as much as possible all unhealthy food, avoid sweets, junk, processed, refined and fast food and stick with real, whole fresh food, just by doing this the results in how you feel and how you look will be amazing.

There´s no reason to try to follow a very restrictive diet like low carbohydrate, ketogenic or any other if we still eat junk or fast food, once you eliminate or avoid this foods then you can start adjusting your nutrition program to make it better for you.

If you want to live healthier and happier and help all the people around you, you need to change what you eat and eating healthy food is the first step, reducing sugar and unhealthy oils is a most, they are the cause of many diseases now a days, but it´s hard to do. We´ve been consuming sugar for almost all our life so when we start to eliminate it from our diet our mind will trick us making us think that we need it, it´s like giving up any other addiction.

Even if you´re not following any famous diet like ketogenic or high protein, vegetarian, etc; when you eliminate or avoid as much as possible sweets, junk, processed and fast food from your nutrition you start living healthier and the results will come. There are some healthy carbohydrates you can eat which I´ll explain in other post, but for now, and to keep things simple you just need to know and understand that processed sugar is bad so you need to eliminate it from your nutrition program for your health and fitness goals, the best way to do it is by avoiding sweets, junk, processed and fast foods.

Let us know by leaving a comment down below and on if most of what you eat is whole fresh food or unhealthy highly processed foods.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.



Macronutrients – Carbohydrates


Yes, carbohydrates can be unhealthy just as any other macronutrient. The quality and quantity are what you need to consider.

There are so many different diets out there, they´re just different macronutrient ratios and with all these different diets some “experts” or “gurus” even start fighting claiming their diet is the best one. What frustrates me is that most of these experts or gurus eat a lot of unhealthy foods. So, it´s not only about macros, we´re focusing on the wrong point.

The last macronutrient we will talk about is carbohydrates, there are 4 calories in one gram of carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are carbon-based molecules that contain water and can be classified in monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides.

Monosaccharides are the simplest basic structure which include glucose (the simplest form of sugar), fructose (fruit) and galactose (dairy). Glucose is the building block of most complex carbohydrates and it´s your body´s preferred source of energy (that´s what we´ve been told). These simple sugars do not need to be broken down, so they get into the bloodstream and are used immediately.

Disaccharides are two monosacchrides bound together which include sucrose and lactose.

Polysaccharides are more than two monosaccharides bound together which include starches.

Some years ago, this three groups (monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides) were divided into simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates depending on how fast or slow they were digested and how fast or slow they raise blood glucose. The simpler the molecule of sugar, the easier it is to break it down; the more complex the molecule, the more it must be broken down and the longer it takes to absorb. Simple carbohydrates were used to describe monosaccharides and disaccharides which are easier to digest and make sugar raise quickly, while complex carbohydrates were used to describe polysaccharides which take longer to digest and increase blood sugar slowly.

High blood sugar can be dangerous so your body needs to keep it regulated, when you eat too much sugar it gets to your bloodstream, insulin raises to take that glucose from the bloodstream to the cell and use it for energy or store it as glycogen in the muscles and if there´s an excess it stores the rest as fat.

Contrary to what we´ve been told our body performs better in a high fat – low carbohydrate diet with moderate protein. The amount of carbohydrates that your body needs is zero, there are no essential carbohydrates as there are essential amino acids (protein) and essential fatty acids (fats) the only reason we need carbohydrates is to vitamins and minerals but this doesn´t mean that you need to eliminate them from your diet completely.

Ketogenic diets are based on this, since there are no essential carbohydrates and your body doesn´t need them you can go high in fats, moderate in proteins and very low in carbohydrates.

The best carbohydrates sources you can eat are vegetables which include fiber and micronutrients, some fruits and those carbs like oats, amaranth, brown rice, quinoa and corn tortilla. The reason this carbs are better is because they are not highly processed and refined and they are not loaded with extra sugars and unhealthy oils.

There´s one point that I want to make clear, the only difference between complex and simple carbohydrates is the speed at which they raise insulin and get broken down and digested but they´re all carbohydrates, for your body they´re still sugar.

The type of diet or nutrition program you follow is the one that works best for you, the one that keeps you healthy and support your fitness goals and also the one the makes you feel great this is why you need to listen to your body, to find out which foods make you feel your best, deliver the best results and you can sustain for long periods of time.

For the last 3 posts we´ve been talking about macronutrients, we learnt the basics and functions of each macro in a simple way. There´s a lot of information and it can get very complex this is why we will continue talking about macronutrients and food in general so that you understand how everything works, how our body responds to each food option and how we can make better choices to not only lose weight, get in amazing shape and sustain your results but also maintain optimal health and live a fulfilled life.

If you have any doubts or questions let us know by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter, we want to hear from you and know how we can help you.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.