Many people associate “carbs” with fat and weight gain. Did you know that carbohydrates are just as essential for the body’s recovery process – particularly in regards to muscle building – as protein? It’s true. In fact, carbs are your body’s primary energy source, and of your body’s total daily nutritional requirements, a whopping 45-65% should come from carbohydrates, and only 10-35% from protein. Think of that when you’re pounding your post-workout protein shake, but not getting enough carbs in. Your body and brain need carbohydrates in order to function properly, and without them, you won’t have the energy to make it through your workout, let alone your day. After your strength training workouts in particular, you need carbs to replace those depleted glycogen stores in the muscle cells of your body, as well as protein to restore amino acids. If you’re not sure about carbs, or you’re one of the many people who think all carbs are the enemy, there are a few important things you should know. Let’s start by separating carbs into two different – and very important – categories: good carbs and bad carbs, shall we?
Good carbs are important to include in your diet, and these good carbohydrates will actually help boost your health. Whole-grain products are especially nutritious. That includes everything from brown rice and whole wheat pasta to whole rye, barley, and buckwheat. These types of carbs are extremely beneficial to your health, by providing your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Fruits and vegetables also have carbs, but definitely fall into the “good carbs” category. These are foods your body craves for fuel, what it needs to strive.
These are the carbs you want to include in your diet. Unfortunately, in the “Americanized” way of living most people have these days, we’re so used to not basing our meals around these types of food and then wondering why we’re having issues with our weight or dealing with health problems. Muffins and bagels, white hamburger buns, white bread for your son’s school lunch – these are not foods you want to be eating, and definitely not providing to your children. For the same cost in most cases and sometimes even less, (and a few cents difference shouldn’t matter when it comes to your health anyway) you can simply opt for “brown” or “whole-grain” in place of white, and the difference it makes is tremendous.
These are the carbs that give all carbs a bad name. Donuts, cake, basically any and all white foods you can think of, such as white bread and white rice; these are refined, processed foods that don’t offer your body much in terms of nutritional value. These are the types of foods you should steer clear of, because not only can they cause spikes in your blood sugar levels and fill your body with empty calories, but they can also contribute to serious health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure when consumed over time. Foods like white bread and white rice have all the nutrients stripped away, so they’re pretty useless in terms of offering any value to your health. It’s like pouring a can of beer into your gas tank on your way to work – sure, it’ll fit in there, but it’s not going to do you much good.
Once you understand how crucial carbs are, you can start incorporating the right carbs into your diet. Carbs often get a bad rap, but it’s easy to see how different the good carbs are from the bad, and how essential they are to proper body functioning. So don’t kick carbs to the curb – just choose the right ones to put in your body. It’s a lot easier than you may think. Steer clear of most white foods – white bread, white rice, sugar; these are not going to provide your body with any real nutritional value and will cause a spike in your blood sugar and fill your body with empty calories. Instead, stick with the carbohydrates that are full of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
When it comes to comparing carbs and determining what’s good and what’s not, it’s actually pretty simple. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what should be going in your body and what shouldn’t. Carrots or cake? Fennel or French fries? Cucumber or chips? Pretty easy, right? Make sure you include carbs as part of your balanced diet. Skipping the carbs won’t help you lose weight, it will leave you weak and fatigued with no effort to kick butt come your next workout. Just choose the right ones and it will make all the difference in your diet.