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April 6, 2016 by
Jay Medley
Carbs are one of the latest foods to be vilified by diet and nutrition advice, but they don’t deserve the bad rap. Well, not all of them do. We think of donuts, bread, pasta, and French fries when we hear the word ‘carbs.’ It’s time to rethink carbs because not only are they not all bad, but you need them to fuel your workouts!

The right ones also come with extra perks like vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Understanding the different types of carbs and how they work will help you to plan the perfect meals for your exercise and every day needs. Here are some things you should know about carbs so that you can use them to your benefit.

There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are easier for the body to digest, so they get used as fuel faster. Complex carbohydrates are just that: they’re more complex, so it takes longer for the body to digest them. This means that their energy will last longer.

Simple carbs are found in lots of sugary foods, like the ones we consider villains, like sweets. These foods are looked down upon because they are usually packed with empty calories; these sugary and fatty foods contain very few vitamins and nutrients.

The good news is that you can get your simple carbs – as well as the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs – from fruit. Fruit is relatively low in calories when compared to other simple carbs, but it will give you the quick burst of energy that you need to get going.

Complex carbs take longer to digest so you’ll feel the effects of their energy for longer. You need these to stay energized throughout the day or a workout. Complex carbs can be found in starchy foods, grains, beans, and vegetables.

With the starchy foods, like with the simple carbs, it’s important to pick the right ones to get the most nutrients for the calories. Sweet potatoes and other root vegetables are a great example of the right kind of starch, packed with nutrients like beta-carotene. As for grains, look for whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.

The best way to use carbs to your advantage is to eat them together so that the simple carbs will keep your energy level up until the complex carbs start to be digested and burned. You’ll need carbs to give you energy for exercise, so if you have a workout planned, try to consume both simple and complex carbs about two hours beforehand.

To really fuel up, add a little protein (about 10 to 20 grams) to your pre-workout meal. Carb is a four-letter word, but unlike other four-letter words, this one is very complimentary. Eating a combination of both simple and complex carbs from the right sources will keep your energized all day long, plus give you the nutrients and fiber that you need to stay healthy.

So forget all of the hate that has been misdirected toward carbs and start loving them for what they really are: energy powerhouses!

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