There is a lot of controversy these days in the health and fitness industry regarding the naughty C word… CARBS. For some reason they received a bad rap a few years ago and everything became ‘low carb’ and ‘low fat’ meaning only one thing – processed crap and high sugar. Only recently has carbs become, how shall we say, fashionable again? Many celebs are representing the whole STRONG NOT SKINNY lifestyle this last year and all of a sudden girls eating proper food and training hard is the hottest new thang!! That’s right – eat carbs and sweat hard.
So what are Carbs and why do we fear them ?
There exist several different kinds of carbohydrates each with their own GI (glycemic index). The lower the GI level the slower the carb is digested into the body and therefore the less chance of it being stored as fat. Carbs can be categorised into complex and simple carbs. See blog post >> here about these carbs. Simple carbs are the ones we should skip, not the complex ones. Simple carbs can be glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose. All of these types of carbs are types of ‘sugar’ and will cause a sugar spike as it enters your blood stream leaving you hungry again shortly after. We fear them because someone once said ‘carbs make you fat’. Sure anything in excess can change your weight but we should NOT fear carbs or cut them out. Carbs keep you full, fuel your body, make you strong and most of all happy. So unless you want to be sad, weak and tired… I say eat your carbs.
Why do we need Carbs?
Your body needs carbs for energy and to function at its best. Yes a low carb diet will cause weight loss but mainly because the decrease in calories and not solely the lack of carbs. Most likely a decrease in muscle mass too resulting in lower numbers on the scale. You will feel tired and have less energy on a low carb diet and this is not sustainable long term without issues. The best time to have carbs in first thing in the morning to fuel you for the day or pre/post training and exercise. Don’t be too concerned about the timing of these foods. If you eat oats for dinner instead of breakfast it won’t automatically turn to fat because you ate after 6pm. Late night carbs most definitely have their place. I personally am hungry at night so I find rice, oats or sweet potato at night work best for me and the release of serotonin helps me sleep like a baby.
The good kind of carbs?
When it comes to eating carbs you should focus on the ‘good carbs’ and less on the bad ones. I hate to label food good and bad but it goes without saying that a sweet potato is better than a whiz fizz sherbet right? Just use your common sense and eat wholesome food. If you can’t walk into a field and pick it (ie oat, rice, sweet potato) then don’t eat it. Sorry but lollies don’t grow on trees. Note; cacao does and cacao is chocolate so dark 80% chocolate is totally acceptable.
Aim for a strong not skinny body
A lot of people believe that in order to lose weight and get lean/toned you need to eat little and basically just air and lettuce. False!! You need to eat loads and not deprive your body so that it can function at its best and this includes burning fat; firstly starting with carbs. Do not deplete your body of nutritious foods in order to lose weight. Under-eating and low carb diets to the extreme can have large negative effects on your metabolism but also your mind and relationship with food. You need to eat a good balance of the three main macro-nutrients; carbs, fats and protein in order to meet your fitness goals. If you are working out in the gym and lifting weights to increase your muscle tone and burn fat then carbs are the perfect source of energy for this. Try having oats and protein in a shake post training or a large meal with chicken, vegetables and sweet potato or rice. Limit the added sauces and nasty extras that you don’t need. And skip the sugar because you’re sweet enough.
EAT CARBS! BE HAPPY! GET LEAN!