Carbs (carbohydrates) are a hot topic right now, but they are sorely misunderstood, with a lot of confusion surrounding when and if to eat them.

Being a part of the online nutrition world, I know that many people like to attach to the idea of finding the ‘magic answer’ or approach things with an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. With all of the health “trends” floating about, it can be easy to think that a simple pill, powder, supplement or cutting out an entire food group works wonders but in reality, consistency and building nourishing meals is what it comes down to at the end of the day (and these include carbs)

In today’s email, I am going to outline the difference between carbs, how they’re useful and when it best to consume / why they should be included in your diet – buckle in kids, you’re in for a long one!
Let’s get one thing straight before we begin.. the carbs that provide immense benefits are the wholefood unprocessed carbs such as potatoes, rice, oats, wheat, apples, corn, bananas, rice cakes, quinoa, fruit / berries etc.

To understand this beautiful food group best, and the effects carbs have on the body, we most commonly break them up into 2 categories; simple and complex.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES ?
Are the monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose and maltose). Simple carbohydrates, not surprisingly have a simple chemical structure and therefore are quickly absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. This leads to a faster rise and spikes in our blood glucose levels and increased insulin secretion from the pancreas. Overtime, blood sugar spikes can lead to unnaturally high levels of insulin, leading to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES ?
Are our best friends. Generally speaking, complex carbohydrates have minimal processing done to them and contain a high percentage of fibre. Complex carbohydrates in their true form are generally higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, as well as low in sodium and low in saturated fat.

Still following?…

CARBS FUEL EXERCISE ?

Basically – If you are training hard and burning off stored muscle glycogen regularly, refuelling those glycogen stores by including more carbs in the diet could drastically improve your ability to train hard.
If you can’t train intensely, you can’t make intense gains. Cutting carbs too severely can leave you feeling lethargic, fatigued and miserable = poop training sessions = less cals burnt, it is that simple.
The body uses glucose(carbs) as the easiest fuel source pre workout. #banana #cornthins – there is no point in eating a tonne of protein / fats pre workout – why would you want to make your body work harder to use energy? #WorkSmarter #NotHarder

CARBS BUILD LEAN MUSCLE ?

Carbs protect the protein you eat from being converted to glucose. Without them, your body can be placed in a muscle wasting state, which can decrease the efficiency of your metabolism, causing gains in fat and losses in strength.

CARBS AID RECOVERY ?

Exercise impacts your central nervous system. When you aren’t properly fueled, it can tire out. If your brain uses glucose as fuel but doesn’t have a stored supply, this is why you feel are likely to feel “foggy” on a low carb diet.

CARBS MAKE YOU HAPPY ?

Your brain (a.k.a. the control center of everything you do) runs almost entirely on carbs. It needs the quick energy source to function properly.
They make you happy. Carbs, even the healthy “complex” kind, cause your brain to release the hormone serotonin, which makes you feel happy. Scientifically, this is true.

Another thing to note, is very low carbohydrate diets can affect how well you sleep, are you happy after a poop sleep? I think not.
All in all, carbs are not scary, and restricting them can mess with your brain, metabolism and growth.

I’m not giving you an excuse to go eat a huge bowl of macaroni and cheese with a side of #bagel (even though I wouldn’t judge), I’m just telling you, in my opinion you are silly if restrict yourself from something your body needs!

Cool, so, now we know that carbs aren’t the devil but “when do I eat them?” and “how much should I eat?” I hear you saying..

I mean, for the majority / general population, you can treat the day as a whole, your goals, size, movement, environment, stress, work etc will be dependent on how much you should consume per day (that’s where I come in) but for those with body composition goals, sure, the timing of carbs do matter.

There are three times in the day where you want to enjoy well-timed carbs.

IN AND AROUND YOUR WORKOUT ?

This is where I get the biggest hit of carbs in my day, sometimes up to 80-90 grams of carbs in one session.
PRE WORKOUT ?

If your workout is within 20-30 mins, have a small carb serve like a few sips of juice, a date, 1/2 banana, or a rice cake with honey or a handful of dried fruit.

If you have 1-2 hours before your session, you can add some protein too & have a yoghurt with muesli, PB on toast or a fruit smoothie.

POST WORKOUT ?

This is an important place to utilize carbs and the focus here is recovery and building (or rebuilding), pair with protein, and bobs your uncle. #YouEarntIt

REST OF THE DAY ?

Try to keep carbs low to moderate sourcing them from whole foods – fibrous vegetables, greens eg beans, leafy salads, quinoa, berries, etc #MakeFriendsWithSalad

Please remember, there is no magic number, everyone reacts to carbs a little differently.

Keep in mind that your carbohydrate needs will vary based on your workouts, lifestyle, work, environment, stress, hormones etc.

Sure, there are foods that are better for you and provide more nutritional value than others, but rather than ban certain foods from your diet, learn to consume in moderation and be sensible about your food choices….. and for goodness sakes, eat the damn bread.

I hope this has been of use to you, if you need some assistance working out what you should be consuming each day please don’t hesitate to hit the little button below but for now, stay warm, stay healthy, and eat your carbs! #TeamBread

In health,
Zoe x