Carbohydrates: Good or Bad?
“Oh I can’t eat that, it has carbs in it.” Really? Is that how people view carbs? The evil macronutrient you are to avoid at all costs? Don’t vegetables have a carbohydrate content!? Sure, excess carbohydrates, which require water for storage, can lead to weight gain. However, excess of any macronutrient can lead to weight gain! The basic idea of a diet builds around energy balance. In the case of a lower carb diet, the restriction typically leads to less energy in. If coupled with exercise and proper energy out, someone loses weight. It should be that simple.
But we do need carbs, especially athletes and active people. Why do we need carbs and what are they good for?
For starters, we all need carbohydrates as energy transfer depends on it. Our brain and red blood cells also need a continuously available supply of it. We should get these complex carbs from high fiber sources including vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. This leaves us feeling full longer. Highly processed carbs digest quickly and lead to spikes in blood sugar and typically coming along with high amounts of sodium and preservatives. (HINT: Eat real food!)
Now that you know you need carbs, you could be strategic about when you eat them if you want to dive deep in to your nutrition. Build your carb intake higher around your workout times to help fuel energy! Carb intake will vary per each athlete. Many endurance athletes have an ectomorph build. They are often tall, lean, have trouble putting on mass and they tolerate carbs very well. A power lifter in a strong man competition may need far less carbs to fuel their body and rely more on protein and fat. The most important factor of carb intake is not to avoid it, but rather to work with your coach to understand how much you need and where to get useful carbs from.
Move well. Eat well. Be Well.
Dane Schneider, Pn1