It seems like everyone is talking about them nowadays. A simple Google search of the word “carbs” gives you more than 312,000,000 results.
For some people, it’s a controversial topic — and we hear about it during our sessions. People often go on low-carb diets in order to lose weight and gain muscle. But anyone who’s tried it will know the down-sides of such a diet.
- Muscle weakness
… and that’s not very conducive to training at the gym. On top of that, dietary guides actually suggest we should get around 50% of our calories from carbs.
Who’s actually right?
Are carbs really bad for you or do they just get a bad reputation?
How much do we even know about carbs?
These are just a few questions that might pop up in your head when you think about carbs. If you want to improve your diet or start training seriously, you probably have even more questions.
These could include:
- Are carbs good or bad?
- Why do so many people think carbs are bad?
- What are the benefits of carbs?
- Should you eat carbs when you work out?
- How many carbs should you eat?
- What type of carbs should you eat?
- Where can you learn more about nutrition?
So today, we’re going to try and answer every question you possibly have about carbs. Let’s start with the first question most people ask….
Are Carbs Good or Bad?
The answer to this question isn’t that simple. The short version is: there are good carbs and bad carbs.
They fall into two categories:
- Complex Carbs: Carbohydrates that come from whole grains, fruits, and veggies are good for your body. They provide you with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that help your body function properly.
- Simple Carbs: Carbohydrates that come from white flour, sugar, and white races are bad for you. Not only will they make you fat but they also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
That’s the simple explanation: avoid simple carbs and increase complex ones if you want to stay healthy and in shape. If you want to go deeper into the subject of carbs, you should know about the glycemic index.
This system classifies carbs by how slowly or quickly they increase your blood sugar levels. Runners and lifters tend to eat foods such as beans, grains, and oats, with a low glycemic index to stay energised.
You can learn more about this on our nutrition page.
Why Do So Many People Think Carbs Are Bad?
Not all carbs are bad for you, but many of our 28-Day Challengers have that impression in the beginning. To that, we usually ask them “why do so many people tell you that carbs are bad for look and health?”
Simply put, it’s because numerous myths about carbs have emerged (and somehow endured) over the years.
Here are some common myths we hear all the time:
- Carbs are fattening and will make you gain weight
- All “white foods” are fattening and should be avoided
- Even fruits are bad for you because of they full of carbs
Without getting into each myth and deconstructing it, we’ll just say that all of them are false. The truth is, carbs are a great source of energy. They are one of three macronutrients, along with protein and fat, that your body needs.
The energy your body receives from macronutrients:
- Fats: 9 calories per 1 gram
- Proteins: 4 calories per 1 gram
- Carbs: 4 calories per 1 gram
Of course, carbs have numerous other benefits for your body — and we’re about to cover them below.
What Are the Benefits of Carbs?
Eating carbs in large portions is a bad idea. It could contribute to fat gain, muscle loss, and overall bad health. However, that goes for every nutrient. After all, too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
Let’s look at are some of the reasons for keeping carbs in your diet.
1. Better mood and more energy
Carbs can help your brain produce more serotonin, a chemical that boosts your mood. According to a paper published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who ingest only 20 to 40 grams of carbs are generally more depressed and anxious than people who eat more.
2. Weight-gain prevention
Researchers from the Brigham Young University have discovered that carbs actually help you with weight-gain prevention. The scientist followed middle-aged women for two years and discovered that women who increase their fibre intake lost weight. Since carbs contain fibre, it would be smart to increase your complex carb intake.
3. Burn more fat while working out
A breakfast filled with good carbs can help you burn more fat cells during your workouts. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating cereal and oatmeal 3 hours before a workout will help your body burn fat and gain muscle quicker.
Should You Eat Carbs When You Work Out?
You already know the answer to this question if you read the paragraph above carefully. But if you haven’t, the answer is…
Your body needs carbs if you want to work out regularly. You need to eat complex carbs before and after working out.
Having oatmeal a few hours before working out will help you burn fat and eating a banana some 45 minutes before a workout will keep your energy levels high during the workout. If you eat 2 hours before a workout, you won’t have enough “fuel in your tank” to go through a workout.
What about endurance workouts? You should avoid bad carbs.
For example, eating a bowl of pasta a few hours before running is a terrible idea. Not only would you feel too full to run, but you’d also get sick at some point.
This brings us to the following question…
How Many Carbs Should You Eat?
During our training sessions, we regularly cover ground such as what number of carbs you should ingest before a workout.
It depends on numerous factors, such as:
- Your age and gender
- Your physical shape
- Your lifestyle
- Your dietary restrictions
Around 50% of your daily calorie intake should consist of carbs. The number of calories could be as high as 65% but it shouldn’t go below 45%. People who work out regularly should aim at 60%, according to FDA-approved research.
According to Tanya Zuckerbrot, medical professional and the author of The F-Factor, your brain needs around 130 grams to function. You should aim to ingest at least 200 grams of carbs if you’re physically active. And people who train should eat around 300 grams.
Furthermore, different types of workouts require different carb intakes. Weightlifters, for instance, need to eat a healthy amount of carbs because they need a lot of power to go through a serious workout.
Our 28-Day Challengers train three times per week for 45 minutes each session. The sessions include a combination of strength training and conditioning, so we recommend that they eat most of their carbs on training days.
What Type of Carbs Should You Eat?
We already discussed that you should aim to eat only complex carbs. However, this also largely depends on the time you plan on eating.
Before a workout, you need to fuel your body.
That means you should eat fruits and vegetables and whole-grains. You should also make sure to keep your body hydrated. On the other hand, you should avoid saturated fat because they take too long to be digested.
While you’re working out, you should make a quick pit stop and ingest something light like a power bar. We especially recommend that to professional athletes who train for a couple of hours each day. They run the risk of losing energy during the workout, so they need a snack.
Lastly, you need to eat more carbs after a workout since you burned most of the ones you ingested before the workout. An hour after your workout, you should eat a bowl of vegetables to help your muscles heal and recover for the next session.
What Time of Day Should You Eat Carbs?
Depending on your intention, there are different times to eat carbs.
1. If you want to lose weight
People that want to lose weight should avoid eating carbs during the night when the body is least active. You need to burn those carbs, so it would be smart to eat them early.
2. If you want to build muscle
Eating carbs throughout the day is recommendable for people who want to build muscle. Small portions before and after working out are essential for energy and recovery.
3. If you want to recover quickly
Muscle-building is nothing without recovery. You need to exercise early and eat carbs an hour or so after your workout if you want to help your body heal quicker.
Where Can You Learn More About Nutrition?
You have the Internet if you want to learn anything nowadays. However, if you want to learn about carbs and how much you need them during workouts, you need to talk to professionals. Talking to a nutritionist is always a good idea.
However, if you need a diet for your workouts, you should talk to our staff members that will help you come up with a meal plan that will supplement your fitness regiment. Every person is different, so having a tailor-made diet is mandatory.
Ready to Eat the Right Carbs the Right Way?
We hope our article changed your mind on carbs. Not only are they not bad for you, but they are also essential to your training process. You just need to be more mindful about the types of food you eat on a daily basis and you’ll maximize your workouts.
Making a few adjustments can mean the world to your workout. If you want to start eating the right amount of carbs, working out to the best of your abilities, and achieving your fitness goals quicker than ever, then sign up for our 28-Day Challenge.
You won’t regret it!