CARBOHYDRATE … TRICK OR TREAT? Carbohydrate gets a bad press, but are all carbohydrates bad for us? Are any carbohydrates good for us? How many carbohydrates are there? Do we need carbohydrates? There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot more to carbs than just thinking they should be avoided or loaded!
Lets start here and get this one done quickly, Carb-Loading has been thrown out into the masses and now every one and anyone who slips on a pair of trainers thinks they need a potato, pasta sandwich to get them through a workout. You don’t!! Carb-loading is an overused pastime. You don’t need to load up on carbohydrate for anything less than a 2hr workout, and even then it has to be high intensity. The stores from the previous day will be enough, and as you progress your training you’ll need fewer carbs to fuel your efforts.
There are two types of carbohydrate, ‘Simple’ and ‘Complex’
Simple Carbohydrates are the sugar variety, Glucose, Sucrose and Fructose. These will give you a short-term boost of energy but contain no vitamins, minerals or fibre.
Complex Carbohydrates such as starch and fibre are found in plant foods including grains, potatoes and legumes: they do contain a great deal of nutrients and provide slow release energy over a longer period of time.
In a nutshell
We need carbohydrates. They are the preferred source of energy for the muscles. In my opinion you should match your carb intake to the amount of exercise you are doing. Carbs become problematic when you are consuming loads of them and not doing anything to burn them off. Once all the carb stores in the muscles are filled up, any extra will overspill and be stored as body fat… not ideal.
However if you deplete the body totally of its carbohydrate you won’t have the energy to do any exercise. For a short time you will lose body fat but then your body will go into a state of survival, you’ll start storing the slightest bit of carb as fat and you’ll break down lean muscle for energy and ultimately that process becomes extremely detrimental to your fat loss.
Strike a balance. Take in enough carbs to train hard but not to much that you’re over spilling and storing body fat. Don’t eat bowl after bowl of pasta if you’re going to sit on the sofa all day. Sugar is not the devil either if used correctly. For prolonged exercise it’s the preferred source of carbohydrate, its quickly absorbed and supplies energy to your muscles and liver. Simple Carbs (Sugars) are also the the preferred fuel for brain function, believe it or not the brain requires 20% of your daily intake of carbohydrate.
So if in training, we need carbs and we should eat a whole variety of plant based foods, fruit, protein and good fat. Move, as often and in as many ways as possible and remember carbohydrates like so many other things are only bad if used incorrectly.