Carbohydrates have become a bit of a dirty word recently. Tons of foods scream “Low-Carb” or “Carb-Free”, but why are we treating carbohydrates like they just stole our car?
What are carbohydrates?
There are two types of carbs; Simple and Complex.
Simple carbohydrates are the sugars, They’re great for a quick energy hit, but not much good for building muscle. They can also cause a bit of a sugar crash if you eat too much of them, like if you binge on two litres of soft-drink, you may find yourself feeling super energetic, then really tired. Probably quite ill too.
Complex carbohydrates are the ones to go for. They’re made up of fibre and starch. Fibre helps with digestion and keeping your blood sugar levels fairly constant, while starch is broken down into simple sugars for your body to use, but it takes longer. This means your body gets a steady supply of energy rather than a big bump and then nothing.
Are carbs good for me?
If you want to build muscle, you need fuel to burn. Carbs are the best fuel for your muscles. You also need energy to recover and repair muscles. Carb-rich foods are often pretty heavy, and it can be uncomfortable to have a sandwich after exercise, so a quick hit of carbs in a supplement means your body can get onto it quicker and get started on repair and recovery straight away, rather than waiting for you to cook, eat and digest a whole meal.
A carb supplement isn’t meant to replace whole foods, just give you a quick hit when you need it the most to tide you over until later on.
What do carbs do for me?
Complex carbs are the fuel your body wants most. They give you longer lasting energy without the crash and burn very cleanly in your system. Think of them as the high-end, premium fuel that you’d put in a sports car, and who doesn’t think their body deserves to be thought of as a sports car?
There are a few tricks though. Some simple carbohydrates (like Fructose found naturally in most fruit) will actually give you a slow and reliable energy boost. Also, some complex carbs might be highly processed, and give you a nasty crash, like white bread. It’s not completely evil, but wholemeal is a LOT better for you, especially if it’s fresh.
To know which is the healthier option, it’s really just a matter of common sense. Something that you pick from the tree yourself will usually be better than something that was heavily processed, and can last a month without going moldy.
How much should I be eating?
Most people will usually try and get around 40% of their kilojoules from carbs. You might go higher if you’re finding yourself feeling tired more often, or drop it down if you’re putting on fat.
Try to get some good complex carbs in every meal. Some wholemeal toast with breakfast, some wholegrain bread on a sandwich with lunch and maybe some potatoes with dinner. Without enough carbohydrates in your system, your body will go to it’s next best source of energy, Fat.
That might sound like a good thing, and it can be in the short term. The problem is that Fat is the bargain basement version of energy.
It’s not as good for your muscles, which means that you won’t be able to work as hard. This means you’re not putting on as much lean muscle as you would be with carbs, and as you know, the more lean muscle you have, the more likely you are to keep that weight off.
You don’t want to go overboard, but avoiding ALL carbs is a fairly bad idea for most people.
What foods are high in carbs?
Some foods high in simple carbs are:
- Soft Drink
- Jam and sweet spreads
- Anything made with white flour
You should try and avoid as many processed simple carbs as possible. Natural simple carbs, like those found in fruit and some vegetables are much better for you than something like a chocolate spread sandwich.
Foods high in complex carbs include:
- Shredded wheat
- High fibre breakfast cereals
- Rye bread
You’ll see that a lot of these are breakfast foods, which is exactly when you need carbs the most! You’ve been starving yourself for 6-9 hours while you sleep! Give your body the fuel it needs to do what you need to do for the day.
What happens if I eat too much of it?
If you load up on carbs, what you don’t use will be stored as fat. This is why it’s best to get lots of small meals throughout the day, otherwise you could be putting on a lot of bulk. It’s not as bad as a high fat diet (not by a long shot) but it’s worth keeping it under control if you’re trying to keep your weight in a healthy range.
What if I don’t eat any carbs?
Carbs are a very important part of your diet. Even if you are currently taking fat burners and weight loss supplements, it’s still important to have a regular intake of carbohydrates in order to sustain a well balanced diet. If you skip them, you won’t have the energy you need to push yourself to your limit. If you’re not pushing yourself, you’re not improving.
If you’re worried about your carb intake, just try to keep them as natural as possible. Complex carbs from baked potatoes, brown rice or fresh, homemade wholemeal bread aren’t just good sources of energy, they taste fantastic!
Is it safe for women too?
Carbs are just as safe for women as they are for men. Just keep it in moderation.
Because you’re not building muscle as quickly as men do, you won’t need as many carbs as a man will when doing the same amount of work.
Just remember that carbs aren’t trying to sneak into your system and add to your fat stores, they’re trying to keep you going stronger for longer!
If you’re unsure about how many carbs you should be eating, feel free to ask the Supps R Us team and we’ll guide you in the right direction.
So to get as many of the good carbs as possible, try to focus on basic foods, such as brown rice, oatmeal, grains and beans. As much as possible, avoid processed foods, such as doughnuts, white bread and white rice. This is one minor diet change that can really pay big dividends in the future!