How Carbs Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your Workout
Carbs have gotten a bad wrap in the fitness industry as of late. Supposedly these aspects of food will make you “fat” and “sluggish”, we are here to set the record straight around what a carbohydrate is and how to use them to your benefit when it comes to your fitness journey.
A carb is molecule, like a fat or protein. They are the chemical make-up of foods and give you the energy to live, so let’s not completely cut them out of our diet, right?
There are multiple types of carbs
Let’s define what a “processed” carbohydrates is, things that are simple carbs, such as white bread, cookies, cakes, sugared cereals and candies. Unfortunately, these are the foods you need to avoid. The mindset you should have around food is, where did this come from and how recently was it a natural substance.
Despite fruit being a simple carb, it also supplies dietary fiber which is a beneficial nutrient for your body. Smart carbs are brown and wild rice, whole grain pasta, barley, oats, rye, corn and buckwheat. If you have a gluten intolerance, go for beans, sweet potatoes and quinoa, these foods are also rich in fiber. The foods listed in this paragraph should be your go to carbohydrates. Otherwise, the sweet treats and processed carbs can be eaten in moderation or on special occasions.
Carbs before a workout
According to Amy Gorin, MS, RDN and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, the perfect pre-workout combination is a mix of carbs and protein. If you eat a nutritional dose of this combination around an hour before a workout, you will properly fuel your body and feel awesome through your session.
Some of our favorite pre-workout treats include: a fruit smoothie with protein powder, a sugar-free rice cake with peanut butter or oatmeal mixed with protein powder or a nut butter.
Incorporate some carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal and see how your workouts improve.
Carbs after your workout
Let’s go over a few basics about what happens to the body during bouts of intense exercise. At rest we are in a state of homeostasis brought on by the parasympathetic nervous system, when we start to workout we enter what is commonly known as “flight or fight” (survival mode) which is brought to you by the sympathetic nervous system. Both are a part of the central nervous system and serve different purposes. So when you go deep into your SNS function you tend to feel tired afterwards. This is due to the brain signaling the adrenals to dump adrenaline into your system to amp you up so you can “survive”.
Not that your brain would ever let you push yourself to death in a workout, but your body prefers homeostasis or to rest, hence why it’s hard to get off the couch and to the gym. For this very
reason you want to intake carbohydrates within 15 minutes post workout. Carbs have a profound hormonal effect on insulin and cortisol. When insulin is spiked, it shuts down the PSNS response (fight or flight) and brings you back to homeostasis more quickly. Insulin helps balance cortisol levels in the body.
Cortisol was elevated from your intense bout of training, which is why you typically feel good after you’re done with a hard session. Consequently, the longer you go with inadequate recovery, the deeper of a hole you dig yourself into metabolically and hormonally speaking. So have those carbs, because they help with recovery and are important to your success and longevity.
As you can see carbs are best used around the time of workout to get the valuable energy that they produce. Carbs are one of those foods that you don’t want to overdue, but when used correctly will help tremendously.