Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred and easily obtained source of energy in the form of glucose. Not only are they essential for energy but our brain, heart and nervous system need a constant supply of carbohydrate in order to function properly.
All carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They vary in size, structure and the speed to which they are broken down into sugar (glucose) and absorbed into the bloodstream. From here they can be distributed to cells and muscles for immediate use, or stored as glycogen in the muscles or liver as an energy reserve or and not ideal be stored in your 'fat banks'.
The key is to eat low to medium Gi carbohydrates which release their sugar slowly into the bloodstream rather than refined over processed carbs that release their sugar quickly causing an energy peak and spike in insulin levels, followed by a crash then an urge for more sugar!
Make carbs work for you by applying the following rules:
- Get the majority of your carbs either at breakfast or lunch time, they'll fuel your activity in the afternoon.
- Match your intake of carbs to how active you are, on sedentary days eat less carbs, on active days eat more carbs especially pre and post workout.
- Eat carbs and protein together. The protein will help slow down the overall digestion process and avoid an insulin spike.
- Avoid refined processed carbs and eat more fibre rich carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds.
- Watch your portion size, as a rough guide use one cupped hand for a portion of fruit, starches and grains for women, and two cupped hands for men. For vegetables use a fist sized portion.
So as you can see, carbs need not be the enemy, just be sensible.
Till next time,