Carbohydrates – They make us fat! They are the reason for all of our struggles to get 6 pack abs! Bad, bad, bad!
Okay, slow your roll. But that’s what most of us have been hearing our entire life by media and by “nutritional experts” aka, our friend who takes enough supplements to single handily keep GNC in business.
What exactly are carbohydrates?
To make it simple, carbs are the sugars, starches and fibers found in foods like fruit, vegetables and grains.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient, which means they are “required” by the body, along with proteins and fats.
Quotations are used for required as new science is discovering a ketosis diet, a diet consisting of little to no carbs, is a completely functional way for the body to perform. But that’s a different day, different article.
What do carbohydrates do?
Carbs are energy. Carbs are fuel. They provide our body, brain and muscles with the power to get through the day and our workouts.
The form of energy comes in two forms, quick or steady.
Simple Vs. Complex carbs?
You guessed it, simply is the quick form of carbs. We all know the quick feeling. Drinking a sugary drink, candy bar, a 6,000 calorie drink from Starbucks. That sugar high, followed by a drop into a dark hole of procrastination, usually followed by taking in more sugar.
Simple carbs are found in fruits, candy, soda, some vegetables. They provide no nutritional value and is often the leading source of weight gain.
Now we have complex carbohydrates, which include most green vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, lentils.
Complex carbs are what provide us with that steady, sustained energy.
What this means in complex carbs = good carbs. See a full list by healthyeater.
How do they fit into our diet?
It’s important to have a balanced meal, every meal.
We don’t want to consume 50 grams of protein for one meal with little to no carbs or fats. (However, protein is great for you! If you’d like more information on protein, checkout this post by healthyeater.)
A general rule is to have green vegetables in every meal. The green vegetables don’t add a lot of “carb” calories to your diet, but the carbs in them provide us with an immense amount of vitamins and fiber to help with the digestion.
Add in some starchy carbs, rice, potatoes, non-green vegetables. This is where you’re getting the carb calories, the carb calories you need in your diet.
Now, it’s extremely important to know that everyone is different when it comes to carb intake. Michael Phelps consumed 12,000 calories a day, and from the sounds of it, roughly 7,000 calories in carbs. You, my friend, cannot do that.
Carb intake depends on the person and activity level. If you’re extremely active, you may eat more carbs than your friend. Your body needs to them to get you through all your activity.
And some people are the opposite, where consuming a small portion of carbs a day feels just right for them.
Nutrition is in constant flux. Adjustments are what make you healthy. You’re adjusting to what your body needs.
It’s important to know that not all carbs are bad.
If we are limiting our carb intake, we are post likely substituting in with simple carbs and not knowing it, or too much fat.
Listening to your body. Listen to your coaches and trainers. Be honest with yourself about what you’re eating every day and they can certainly help you.