Carbohydrates or “Carbs” is always a topic when it comes to weight loss and muscle gain. Carbs are just one of the three macro nutrients you need in your diet; the other two are proteins and fats. To really understand carbohydrates, you must understand how to categorize the different types:
- Sugars: Sweet, short-chain carbohydrates found in foods. Examples are glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.
- Starches: Long chains of glucose molecules, which eventually get broken down into glucose in the digestive system.
- Fiber: Humans cannot digest fiber, although the bacteria in the digestive system can make use of some of them.
Good vs. Bad
Carbs are broken down in your body as sugar and used for energy. So being that carbs are your main source of energy, you definitely need them to fuel your workout. However, when it comes to health and fat loss you want to make sure you’re taking in “good” carbs and not the “bad” ones. You want to focus on complex carbs (starches and fibers). These are healthy carbs the body can break down easily.
Healthy Carbs Include:
- White/Brown rice
- Red/Russet potatoes
- Rice cakes
- Cream of Wheat
- Wheat tortillas
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat bread/Noodles
You want to avoid the bad carbs, because will cause you to store extra body fat and lose energy faster.
- Sugary drinks: Coca cola, Pepsi, Vitamin water, etc. Sugary drinks are some of the unhealthiest things you can put into your body.
- Fruit juices: unfortunately, fruit juices may have similar metabolic effects as sugar-sweetened beverages.
- White bread: these are refined carbohydrates that are low in essential nutrients and bad for metabolic health. This applies to most commercially available breads.
- Pastries, cookies and cakes: these tend to be very high in sugar and refined wheat.
- Ice cream: most types of ice cream are very high in sugar, although there are exceptions.
- Candies and chocolates: If you’re going to eat chocolate, choose quality dark chocolate.
The best times to take in your carbs are:
- In the morning; within the first 45 mins of waking up
- Right before your workout; at least an hour before so your body can use it as energy
- Right after your work out to replenish glycogen stores.
Overall, whether you’re building muscle or losing weight, keep the right carbs in your diet! Keep it Simple!