Carbs Are Friends.

Often people tell me that “carbs are the devil” and they should be avoided at all costs. That’s a myth I’d like to dispel, though.

Food pyramid

When people discuss carbohydrates they tend to think of pasta, potatoes, bread, and grains— all those things that are at the bottom of the food pyramid. People tend to forget that fruit and vegetables are part of that category.

Weight gain

Another myth is that eating carbs will make you gain weight. But not all carbohydrates are the same. Consider this— some carbs are very rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and those carbs are classified as complex carbohydrates. This is important because our bodies need complex carbs because they provide good nutrition to help us maintain a healthy body.

Simple carbs

The opposite of complex carbs are simple carbohydrates which provide a more direct source of energy. They are easy to digest and the human body burns the energy very quickly. Because your body digests them so quickly it takes longer for you to feel satisfied, making it more likely you will eat too many of them. That over-eating is the cause of undesirable weight gain.

Fruit and vegetables

Moving towards a diet of complex carbohydrates, by focusing on foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar, is the healthy choice. These complex carbs are available in healthy fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. The fiber slows the rate of your digestion so that energy from these carbs is released over a long period of time. Foods with simple carbs are a poor choice because your body processes all of their energy quickly, leading to a possible energy crash.

Now, let’s discuss sugar. One myth is that there is a difference between putting “good sugar” and “bad sugar” into your body—for instance, the idea that eating a sugary piece of fruit is better than eating a cookie because “fruit sugar” is “good sugar.”

The problem is that even though a piece of fruit could be healthier than a cookie, the difference is not because one contains natural sugar and the other contains processed sugar added from a bag.

Take for example one of my favorite pieces of fruit: a banana. When you eat a banana you’re consuming minerals like potassium and magnesium and vitamin C, CB6, and fiber. 

But think about the cookie— there are very few nutrients in a cookie. When you eat cookies your body grabs the sugar and rushes it into your system. The large amount of added sugar adds lots of calories that do not appear in fruit. So when you eat fruit, unless you’re eating apple pie or peach cobbler, you are avoiding a lot of bonus calories and supplementing your body with vitamins and minerals.

But, you really need carbs. Why? Because carbs are a source of fuel for your body. The presence of adequate amounts of carbs can spare the body from needing to break down muscle tissue.

So carbs are not your enemy. The enemy is an excessive amount of calories. If you’re eating more calories than your body will burn during your daily routine then you’re going to begin to put on weight. And, simple carbohydrates tend to make you over eat instead of providing long-term satisfaction like complex carbs. So keep the right carbohydrates in your diet, pay attention to what you eat, and eat in moderation. In other words, eat smart.

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Getting the Most Out of Pull-ups

Dead Hang from pull-up

As stated in the book “The Calisthenic Quest,” “pull-ups may be one of the hardest exercises out there.” There are many varieties and modifications for this mighty vertical movement, but the question remains… “Am I getting the most out of my pull-ups?”


Now to be fair, many people struggle to do pull-ups. Even getting one good one is a mighty feat, never mind completing ten. With this movement so many muscles can be involved at one time, and not just in the back! Let’s start at the bar. No… not the pub, the pull-up bar. Just by gripping the bar the muscles in your forearm (flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor digitorum profondus and the flexor policus longus) go to work.

Back muscle

Before you start your pull, while in the dead hang roll your shoulders down and try to squeeze your shoulder blades (or scapulae) down. Also try to squeeze your abs. Keep the legs straight and try to avoid bending the knees. This will aid in abdominal activation.


As you pull yourself vertically you will start to engage your biceps and deltoids. As you continue to pull on the bar you should try to drive your elbows down towards your hips; this will engage your trapezius, your latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and other muscles located in your back. As your chin travels over the bar slowly begin lowering yourself back down to full arm extension.
It’s very important to control your movement traveling both up and down to engage the muscles properly. Do your best to not keep your weight up or flail up and down on the bar as this can put unneeded stress on the joints and spine, potentially causing damage. Proper control in the movement will give you the best results for adding muscle growth and strength.

Written by Ray Shonk

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