The dreaded Carbs…..A quick guide.

Why do I need more carbs?

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient used by the body to provide glycogen to the cells which fuel our movement and therefore our exercise.

They are important if you want to train at any sort of intensity and recover well. If we are carrying out any form of training at anything more than a gentle stroll we will be using some amounts of glycogen (fat can be used as well).

It is impossible to say exactly what fuel a certain person is using at any one time but generally the higher intensity the more glycogen will be used. Initially from the local stores within the muscle and then from within the liver as the exercise continues.

So a conditioning session at LiftOff CrossFit, even when well paced, will be using a lot of carbohydrates to fuel the session. It’s not just conditioning however! Strength training is also using up glycogen stores as the central nervous system, controlled by the brain, primarily uses carbohydrate to fuel itself, so even lower rep range strength work (which heavily taxes the CNS) will require carbohydrate replenishment.

So why do people insist on eating low to no carbs in many instances? Well Carbs have got themselves a bad rep!

Many sources of carbohydrate that are used by modern day society are nutritionally lacking and high in refined sugar and/or additives. They taste great but rush through the system, shooting blood sugar up and then, due to lack of activity are quickly converted and stored as adipose tissue (fat). This has lead too a lot of sedentary members of the population becoming overweight, and at risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plus a lot of people who think that training gives them a right to eat poorly.

So to avoid this…..Get in solid strength training (build more muscle) and energy system conditioning work 4-6 times a week. Support this by eating a well rounded diet.

After training we have to refuel with adequate carbohydrates and protein. This means preferably a good quality meat source (Grass fed, free range etc) and a large proportion of our daily carbohydrates intake. This means sweet potato, white potato, wholegrain rice or quinoa. Avoid sweets or junk food, pick wholegrain over white products and always supplement with plenty of veg or greens.

This post workout window is when our body is gagging for protein to help repair the damaged muscle tissue and carbohydrate to refuel the glycogen levels. So most of what you eat will be used as fuel rather than stored as fat.

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Throughout the day we should continue to eat carbohydrates but in lesser quantities and with lots of fruit and veg bumping up our intake. Be aware however that many vegetables have very low levels of carbohydrate per 100g in relation to potato or rice. So don’t think that after a tough session at the gym that a few trees of broccoli will replenish your glycogen stores!! They definitely won’t. You need to focus on sweet potato or potato, or if you are training really hard/high volume and don’t have any reactions, rice and quinoa will do the trick.

Hopefully this little blog has given some helpful information. Be aware that everyone is different and reacts differently to different things. There is NO one size fits all approach, this is a simple guide to get you started.