They’re your best frenemy. You love them, their texture, all of their fun shapes and sizes. However, you secretly hate them because they add inches to your waistline. They’ve been branded with a scarlet letter, a capital C, to make you feel guilty every time you even breathe in their scent. I am about to tell you something that will hopefully alter your perception forever. Ready? Carbs don’t make you fat, over eating does.
If that didn’t hit you like a ton of bricks then maybe the next few paragraphs will. Let’s discuss the so called villains branded as carbs, the types, their benefits, and their overall impact on the real reason you’re still reading this article, fat loss, muscle gain, and strength.
In order for you to understand carbs, first you need to know their genetic makeup, which is, fiber, starch, and sugar. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of simple and complex carbs. The nutrient quality of the carb will depend on how much fiber, starch, and sugar it has.
When you think of simple carbs, think sugar. This will include, cookies, cereal, soda, juice, candy; I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. Simple carbs are fast absorbing and may give you a temporary spike of energy, because your blood sugar has increased, but it will go just as quickly as it came.
When complex carbs come to mind, think fiber and starch. Your fibrous carbs will be, veggies, nuts, fruit, beans, and whole grains. Starchy carbs, which also contain some fiber will be potatoes (all), rice, whole wheat bread, oats, etc. Obviously these are the more recommended sources because they are more filling and nutrient dense.
By now, many of you have tried one of the millions of diets circling the web, such as Atkins, keto, paleo, low carb; there’s even one called SOUPING?! LOL who comes up with this stuff? Okay but in all seriousness, I receive hundreds of emails of desperate souls who’ve tried the above and then some, stating they’ve cut out carbs from their “diet.” I am here to tell you, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT! You just need to understand how carbs affect you, and your journey, whatever it may be. First and foremost, carbs give you energy. They help you get through those grueling workouts. They help your muscles recover and grow after you’ve given yourself a beating in the gym, on the field, or wherever your preferred method of training is. After training is always the most essential as starchy carbs help push protein into your muscles when you’re depleted. So ladies, if you want to grow those glutes you need to get over your fear of eating anything other than a salad after you train. Fibrous carbs are good for gut health, aka your bowel movements, like your mother always said when you were younger, you need to eat your vegetables. What you have to understand is, you can’t cut all the fats, sugars and carbs from the get go, like some of many people that write to me do. Being on a low carb diet for too long will make you feel lethargic, or lacking energy. If you deprive yourself, it will lead to bingeing. If you’re looking to make any kind of progress, or as so many people like to say ‘tone’ you can’t just eat protein and nothing else. When your body lacks, fat and carbs, it will turn protein into glucose (sugar) for energy. This is the worst possible scenario, because it will cause you to LOSE muscle, and lose weight. No gains were made on those days.
You also have to remember, that carbs, when eaten frequently help regulate insulin levels, and will decrease blood sugar spikes. It’s also good for your mental sanity. You might get a temporary high after you’ve done an entire line of Oreo’s but when your blood sugar decreases you will crash and burn.
In short, you just need to understand that carbs don’t have to be your kryptonite. They can be your best friend if you learn how to incorporate them into your nutrition plan, for whatever your goals might be.