Carbs……!! Many see these as the food of the devil. ‘Eat carbs, you get fat’. ‘No carbs before marbs’. These are just 2 of the phrases being passed about helping to give carbohydrates such a bad name. However, there is a lot to be said for this energy packed macro nutrient, some for which I’m going to share with you now. Take a read below, and see how eating the right carbohydrates can actually help you achieve your weight loss goals in record time.
The body stores fat when we consume more energy than we need. This doesn’t necessarily mean that carbohydrates will make you gain fat. They are actually a suburb source of energy for your muscles and help you to exercise at a higher intensity. By consuming carbohydrate rich meals on training/exercise days, and then reducing your carbohydrates on rest days, your body will use the carbohydrate for the exercise, and will use fats as an energy source from fats on the rest days.
The sciency bit:
Carbohydrates are sugars. They come in two forms. Simple and complex. The difference between these two carbohydrates is the time it takes to digest them and to absorb their properties. Carbs are broken down in and transformed into glucose within the body and stored in the liver as glycogen.
These are the sugars that make things taste sweet. They are very easily broken down into glucose and therefore, due to their structure, can raise blood levels quickly. Your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, and this works to take the glucose to the muscles and to stabilise blood sugar. This insulin response is great for after a workout as it transfers nutrients straight to the muscle cells, where they can then be used to repair and rebuild. On the other hand, if your glycogen levels are already full, and you continue to top these levels up, this is when you will start storing the excess energy as fat.
These simple carbs are found in foods such as fruits, juices, sweets, fizzy drinks, cakes and also many processed cereals. They provide a quick boost of energy, but this will then slump into a crash resulting in a tired, sluggish feeling.
These carbohydrates are pretty much what they say on the tin. They have a far more complex structure than simple carbs, and therefore take longer to digest and absorb. This timeframe in breaking the sugars down into glucose allows for a longer sustained period of energy. These carbohydrates also contain vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
Sources of complex carbs are foods such as wholegrain pasta, wholegrain rice, quinoa, potatoes, oats and vegetables. This is where most of your energy should come from when consuming carbohydrates. So on training/exercise days, you will be eating these types of food quite regularly, and less often on your rest days to allow your body to utilize fat for energy.
There are also carbohydrates known as fibrous carbs. These are not fully digested by the body and are found in vegetables. Although they do not provide an elevation in blood sugar levels, or obtain many calories, they are essential for gut health and really need to be consumed with each meal, every day!!
The foods containing these fibrous carbs are spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. If you don’t particularly like any of the foods mentioned, you can always whizz them up in a blender and take as a smoothie.
So carbohydrates aren’t as bad as you thought are they?? If used correctly, and complex carbohydrates form the majority of your carbohydrate intake, then your muscles will use them as fuel while you are performing physical activity, and when not, you will burn fat as the major energy source.
So try to stay away from the sweets, cakes and sugary drinks, and try eating wholegrain rice, potatoes and vegetables. Your training will improve and you will maximise your fat burning potential.