Carbs always get a bad rep in the diet & fitness world. There are so many low-carb diets out there that focus on slashing your carb intake. Some people believe you should limit carbs, some say to cut them out completely. What is the truth behind carbs?
There’s also a question of when to eat carbs? I’ve always heard that eating them after 7pm is a bad idea. There are so many questions I wanted answers to, so I thought I’d research and figure it out for all of you!
First off…we need carbohydrates in our body. We also need protein and fats. If you have too much of anything, you will gain weight. If you deprive your body of one, your body also won’t react in a healthy manner.
There are three types of carbs:
Simple – Come from sweet things like candy, fruit and sports drinks.
Complex – Come from non-sweet things like rice, oats, bread, potatoes & pasta.
Fibrous – Come from vegetables.
Obviously, not all carbs are treated equally in the body. You will want to focus on eating complex and fibrous carbs and try to limit the simple carbs.
When you eat carbs, your body creates insulin. With simple carbs, your insulin levels will spike quickly. When eating complex carbs, your insulin level will increase more gradually and allow you to feel fuller for longer.
FOCUS ON EATING HEALTHY COMPLEX CARBS!!!!
Muscleandstrength.com did a great job of answering some of the most frequently asked questions about carbs. According to the website,
“If you want to optimize your diet for muscle gain and fat loss it’s important to know how to integrate carbohydrates into your diet. There’s nothing complex about it, you just have to follow a few simple rules.
TO MINIMIZE FAT STORAGE FOLLOW THESE RULES
1) Eat complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are found in whole foods like brown rice, potatoes, whole grain cereal and oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates should make up the bulk of your daily calorie intake because they form muscle glycogen, the long lasting fuel that your body needs to train hard. Complex carbohydrates are slow burning which means you get longer lasting energy. They also help keep your blood sugar levels constant, this reduces fat storage and fatigue and promotes the release of insulin. Insulin is the body’s natural anabolic hormone and is essential for muscle development.
2) Eat carbohydrates directly after training
When you train hard you reduce your blood sugar level considerably. Eating carbohydrates straight after a training session provides your body with an insulin spike. This insulin spike puts your body into an anabolic (muscle building) state. If you do not get the right nutrients after training it’s possible that your body could enter a catabolic (muscle breakdown) state. This is why post workout nutrition is so important.
3) Eat small amounts of carbohydrates more often
Eating smaller servings of carbohydrates more often helps keep a steady flow of insulin into the body. If you eat large amounts of carbohydrates in one sitting your body is much more likely to store them as fat. Eating to much is one sitting is unnecessary; your body doesn’t need that much nutrients at one time.
4) Eat high fiber carbohydrates
This goes hand-in-hand with point number 1 because most sources of complex carbohydrates are rich sources of fiber. Fiber helps to build muscle by making muscle tissue absorb amino acids faster and more efficiently.
5) Avoid fruits
This may sound insane because we all know that fruit is high in vitamins, low in calories and very good for general health and wellbeing. But, fruit contains fructose which is a very simple sugar. The body converts fructose into glycogen which is used as a building block for fat tissue.
6) Have carbohydrates and protein in the same meal
When you mix protein and carbohydrates together in the same meal you minimize the chance of the carbohydrates being stored as fat. Protein is harder for the body to process, so it increases your metabolism. Also, carbohydrates help transport the nutrients from protein to the muscle cells which aids in muscle growth.”
(Source – Muscleandstrength.com)
The question about what time to eat carbs is always discussed as well. I personally believe that you should quit eating carbs about 3-4 hours before bedtime. If you go to bed at 10, stop at 6 or 7. Simple enough, right? The reason we cut out carbs at night is because your body doesn’t need that extra source of energy while at rest.
I’m a HUGE fan of carbs. They are my weakness when dieting. Since I’ve learned more about them, I’ve realized that it’s okay to eat these complex carbs, just make sure to eat them in moderation. My favorite complex carbs that I like to incorporate into my diet on a daily basis are: ezekial bread, brown rice, rice cakes, sweet potatoes & oats. Yum!
My current diet includes 4 servings of complex carbs a day.
Meal 1: 1/2 cup
Meal 2: 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Meal 3: 1/4 cup
Meal 4: 1/4 cup
I’ve also found that if I really start craving sweets at night before bed, it could be becuase of the amount of complex carbs I’d eaten that day. If you often crave sweets late at night before bed, try to up your complex carb intake in one of your earlier meals. Just add another 1/4 cup or so to one of your meals, and your sweet craving may disappear! It usually works for me.
There is another huge problem that I’ve seen in the fitness world, which is due to girls who completely cut their carbs from their diet before a show or photoshoot. This can mess up your metabolism for the rest of your life. Please don’t be one of these girls who think that cutting your carbs out for a month is smart just because that’s what your trainer told you or it’s what you read on another blog. It’s NOT healthy and can severely damage your body.
The Sweaty Betties did a great video blog about this exact issue. It actually happened to her. Feel free to watch their video below.
I love these girls! I’m so glad they created this video to shed some light on this issue.
Have you ever heard of metabolic damage from limiting carbs?