To Carb or Not to Carb. That is the question. So, what is the answer? Well, it’s complicated.
I am a firm believer (with tons of research behind my beliefs) that you should always eat for what you will be doing next. With that being said, since carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy in activities like sprinting, kettlebell workouts, and anything that involves quick bursts of power…carbs are needed.
Here is where it gets more confusing. There is more than one kind of carb. There are simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are the ones that spike insulin as in most pastries and cookies, juices, table sugar, candy, pasta and white rice. Complex carbs are the slow digesting ones that keep blood sugar stable, like oats, vegetables, sweet potatoes and brown rice.
I know that sounds still a bit confusing, so let me clear it up.
When you are going to work out, you need slow digesting carbs about an hour before a workout. Something like a sweet potato, some brown rice, some whole grain cereal, etc…that is IF you are doing an intense workout as listed above. Not a long, dragged out boring run. That is NOT when you need carbs. (That is also another e-mail.)
After you are done with this intense workout, within 30 minutes of finishing the workout, you need to ingest a fast digesting carbohydrate. That is provided the workout was intense. This will put your muscles into an immediate state of recovery and replenish your used up glucose (the place you get stored energy from). This should also be combined with some protein. I prefer to drink a bit of gatorade (not G2) with a 1/2 scoop of protein powder in it on the way home from the gym. Have you seen the ads for chocolate milk and athletes? Wow, what great advertising on the American Dairy Farmers part! Chocolate syrup is a simple digesting carb, and protein is needed for recovery and muscle growth. Simple, effective, and everyone likes chocolate milk!
Takeaway? The carbs you want BEFORE a workout are complex, and the carbs you want AFTER a workout are simple, (mixed with about 15-25 gms of protein)
Here is just a tidbit on carbs during other parts of the day.
1. Start the morning with a full meal. Protein, Carbohydrates, and healthy fat. Break the fast and get the body and brain in gear.
2. Eat a bit of complex carbs with most meals during the day…more before and immediately after the workout as stated above.
3. Eat carbs with protein, they like one another. Carbs with fat = fat storage. Carbs with protein facilitates stronger muscles and a leaner body.
4. If you are trying to lose weight. Or as I like to say, lose fat? Cut down on as the day goes on, and cut out any source of carbs except for vegetables in your last 2 meals or snacks of the day. That is also providing you are eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.
Remember. A food is either a carbohydrate, a protein or a fat.
Ever wonder why people are overweight? (maybe you?)The American diet usually is skip breakfast or, eat a simple carb (donut)and grab a coffee…be starving for hours after (blood sugar is raised) then grab lunch that is loaded with more carbs..you are now craving. Go a couple of hours (3:00 starvation time) go to a vending machine, or break room and grab another carb…get through the day. Go home, tired, crabby, starving..and eat more carbs in front of the T.V. exhausted. Sound familiar?
Carbs are meant to be used for brain power, energy, and to facilitate the absorption of protein. Eat them together, with protein in the forefront. Use carbohydrates as an energy source before and after workouts, UNLESS they are vegetables. And for God’s sake, eat vegetables all day long. Oh, by the way, did you know that all vegetables are carbohydrates?
Hope fully this alleviates some of the confusion, and now you know when to eat carbohydrates and what ones will benefit your workouts.
So in answer to your question…To carb or not to carb? I hope you know the answer now.
In strength and wellness,