When it comes to Macros, the one Macro I’ve been confused about the most is CARBS. Do you try and cut carbs or embrace them in your diet? After reading various articles and learning through other peoples experiences on places like Instagram, I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that carbs are needed to fuel that muscle gain!!
I’ve tried to summarise what I’ve read and learnt to share with you all. I’m no dietitian or nutritionist but the information I’ve pulled together has come from those exact sources.
So first of all……What types of carbs are there?
• Simple carbs include sugar, honey and corn syrup. These consist of just 1 or 2 sugar molecules and are the quickest form of energy as they are digested quickly.
• Complex carbs include vegetables, whole grain seeds and potatoes. These consist of sugar molecules strung together. They often have a high fibre content. These types of carbs are found in whole plant foods and are high in vitamins and minerals.
The Glycaemic Index
However, not all simple carbs are digested quickly and some complex (slow digesting) carbs such as potatoes are digested faster than apples (a fast digesting carbohydrate) causing a more rapid rise in your blood sugar levels. This is where the Glycaemic Index (GI) comes into play. The GI is a ranking of foods containing carbs based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels. A low GI rating is given to slowly absorbed foods, while foods that are more quickly absorbed have a higher rating. This is important because choosing slowly absorbed carbs, instead of quickly absorbed carbs, can help even out blood glucose levels. Low GI foods include but are not limited to; sweet potatoes, porridge, eggs and fish. A high glycaemic diet (one high in sweets, etc.) puts you more at risk of type two diabetes and heart disease.
Studies have found that a low GI diet increases feelings of fullness after eating, improves appetite control and makes it easier to achieve a healthy body weight.
What happens when we eat too little carbs?
A low carb diet causes a glycogen (the storage form of carbs that is found in the liver and muscles) depleted state. Glycogen is readily converted to glucose to be used as an immediate energy source, especially during strenuous exercise/activity, such as running a marathon, sprinting or a long weights session. During a glycogen depleted state, there can be a detrimental effect on performance which is not ideal during a workout. It may mean that you are unable to lift a heavier weight and have to settle for something lighter.
Do I need to cut out carbs to lose weight? The simple answer is no. Carbs provide energy to the body and are the main source of fuel. If you’re in a calorie deficit you will lose weight whether or not you eat carbs. A low carb diet is not advisable as it can cause tiredness and a lack of concentration. It is also unsustainable in the long term.
Of course, there’s an optimal amount of carbs for everyone to consume to reach their fitness goals. The main thing to remember is to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Techniques such as carb cycling can be used to promote fat loss, rather than weight loss.
My current carb intake…
I tend to range from eating around 160-200 grams per day. A lot of my carb intake come from fruit and vegetables. I love fruit so could never cut this from my diet, yes some will say its full of sugar but its all good sugar! Alongside this i eat a lot of brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, grains and bread?! Yes even bread… although i tend to opt for seeded bread such as Soya and Linseed.
I’m not currently using any techniques such as carb cycling, however i do tend to eat more carbs on days I’m training and fewer on the days I’m not. Purely because if I’m not training i need less energy rich foods. However carbs are still needed on rest days to help support muscle growth and recovery.
So that’s simply just my take on carbs…..I say learn to embrace and love carbs! After all, it might just help build that big booty were all aiming for ?