The Truth about Carbohydrates and Why You Need Them

What’s the deal with carbohydrates? Do you eat them or not?

If you’re trying to lose body fat, then you shouldn’t any carbohydrates at all, right?  Wrong answer.  Unfortunately there is a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there, leaving you not knowing what to do or leading you into eating in an unhealthy manner. So what’s the answer and what should you do?  You have to view carbohydrates as an energy source. Just like gasoline is considered fuel for your car, carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for your body. If you put a small amount of gas in your car, you’re not going to get far on it. It is the same with your body. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, or in other words give your body enough fuel, you’re not going to be able to get very far either.

Whether you’re heading out to go for a run, bike ride, play tennis or go to the gym to workout – if you don’t put enough fuel (carbohydrates) in your gas tank (body) you’re going to run out of gas (energy).

If you’re on the way to the gym to work out, and your gas gauge is on empty (as in not eating enough carbohydrates), how are you going to be able to have an effective workout? Strength training is necessary to build and maintain muscle when trying to lose body fat. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates your body will have to find an energy source somewhere, and unfortunately it’s from muscle. Yeah, you might be thrilled to see the scale drop a few pounds, but if it’s from a loss of muscle that’s not something to celebrate. Muscle is what burns calories and what is necessary to melt that stubborn fat off.

Want to have more strength, have more energy, and burn more calories?

Then make sure you eat some carbs before you workout. Eating protein with your carbs is best. Doing so helps maintain blood sugar levels and helps to keep your body from burning off muscle. So, eating a light meal that combines protein and carbs, 30-90 minutes prior to working out is ideal. If you haven’t eaten for several hours, or say you get up to workout first thing in the morning – you’re internal gas gauge is on Empty. Often times you will feel nauseous and could possibly get sick from a quick drop in blood sugar. Not fun, and you’re not going to get much of a workout in. How are you going to get effective results from your workout if you don’t get an effective workout in?

The best pre-workout carbs are your complex carbohydrates – like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole grains.

Complex carbs are broken down into simple sugars, but the sugars are released much more slowly than simple carbs. Simple carbs are your processed foods, like candy, pop, and donuts. They cause your blood sugars to rise fast, causing an increase in insulin and open the door to your fat stores – they are very easily converted to body fat and increase overall fat storage. Since complex carbs take longer to break down, they are less likely to be stored as body fat. Foods that are high in sugar like your simple carbs, are processed by your body very fast. Meaning if they aren’t used for energy, they’ll end up on your behind quicker than you can slap it. Amounts will vary, depending on the person and how long and how intense a workout will be.

A woman should eat approximately 15-25 grams of carbs with equal amounts of protein, and 30-50 grams of protein and carbs for men.

This is just to give you estimation, since amounts for each individual can vary tremendously.  Don’t fear carbs, but see them as a necessary energy source. They are an important source of fuel needed by your body to help in your war against fat. Just like a car’s gas tank, your body can only store a set amount of fuel (carbs) as well. Any excess will be stored as body fat, but if you just put enough gas in your car (or body) to get you where you need to go (workout) then you won’t have any excess to be stored.

Fuel your body and your workouts, and give it what it needs to burn off that junk in your trunk!