Truths, lies & Carbohydrates
by: Osiris Prieto
Reprinted from Muscle Media Magazine
These days so many people are confused and may not truly understand the role Carbohydrates play in their bodies. If you’re reading this there’s a chance that you are one of those people, and just like you I have also struggled in the past to understand carbohydrates and their role. Not too long ago I remember being afraid of how my body would react to carbohydrates. I would either starve my body by not eating any or I would eat too much, I was lost and completely confused.
I heard many stories and conflicting advice from so many people. Some would recommend eating very little carbohydrates some would recommend not eating any at all, others would swear by Carb Cycling, and many would recommend not consuming them after a certain time. Some of the advice was good but most of it I thought was completely off point. There was no way I could carry on with my lifestyle not being able to eat carbohydrates after 3 pm. All of this left me wondering if there was a simple “normal” way to just eat and not worry so much about the negatives. Instead concentrate more on the good that food would do for me as an athlete and especially as a mother who needed to be healthy physically and mentally for my family.
So I started doing some research and in time from my own trials and errors I came to understand how imperative these nutrients truly are to my health. First thing I did was to accurately identify what Carbohydrates are and the role they play.
|It’s all quite simple, Carbohydrates are energy-providing nutrients. They provide four calories per one gram of carbohydrates consumed and are separated into simple carbohydrates (sugar), complex carbohydrates (fiber) and starch.|
Carbohydrates can also be separated into groups based on the Glycemic Index (https://www.glycemicindex.com/), which measures how high and how quickly blood glucose levels change after eating carbohydrates. The higher the Glycemic Index, the higher the rise in blood sugar and the longer it takes to return to normal.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. A well-nourished adult can store approximately 500 grams of carbohydrates, of this approximately 400 grams are stored as muscle glycogen, 90-110 grams as liver glycogen, and 25 grams circulate in the blood as glucose. Carbohydrates help support the central nervous system, red blood cell production, and tissues. So yes, your mental health and hormonal balance depends tremendously on them.
Now that we have defined what Carbohydrates are and how your body uses them, why would you want to deprive your body of carbohydrates if you know your body won’t function well and you will feel out of balance, leaving you wondering what’s wrong. I would not recommend for anyone to go long periods of time without consuming them. But what I do recommend is to take a look at the types of carbohydrates you are consuming. I mentioned previously not all carbohydrates are the same. Complex Carbohydrates such as whole grains, oatmeal, Yams, beans etc., are your best choices as they will provide you with a steady source of energy without spiking your blood sugar levels.
Now, the amount of Carbohydrates you consume should be determined by the goals you want to achieve.
|For example if your goal is athletic performance: then because glycogen is readily used as your fuel source during exercise, it is important to optimize glycogen stores before exercise and replenish them after exercise.|
If your goal is trying to lose weight: your carbohydrates should be adjusted in a way that you are getting enough to fuel your body, provide it with essential nutrients, and still get in some great workouts, but don’t overdo it with the carbohydrates as the excess your body will store it as fat. Yes, you may have carbohydrates in the afternoons or even at night, there’s no proof that this will make you gain extra weight. You just need to learn to be discipline and not consume a big bowl of sugary cereal before bed or a plate of white rice, as with these simple carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar, there for hinder your weight loss.
My best advice is not to be afraid of Carbohydrates as these nutrients should be your friends. If you make the proper choices based on your activity level and goals, there’s no need to stay away from it all together. Food should not be looked at as the enemy, instead look at it as your fuel.
Remember carbohydrates if used properly can help you gain muscle mass, lose weight, increase your metabolism, increase your energy level, all this will lead to a new lifestyle and a happier healthier looking you!
Feed your body right!
IFBB Pro Osiris Prieto