Part of being successful at something is to understand the various aspects of it, learning, and seeing how everything relates; a healthy diet is no different. There are three major components involved in your diet: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. You need to make sure you are taking the right amounts of each one as well as the right type if you want the greatest success at meeting your personal goals.
To shed some more light on the subject and increase your chances for success we should analyze each area thoroughly. That way you will have a better understanding which in turn will allow for better choices to be made when eating. Today we will focus on carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are an energy source for your body that are especially important when you are working out. You body needs energy to burn and if it doesn’t have it readily available then it will start breaking down muscle tissue to find it. As most people do not want that, it is very important that you have proper carbohydrate intake so your body is fueled during and after your workout. Then proteins are free to be used for muscle repair.
Also eating the right amount of good, complex carbs during the day helps to keep your blood sugar levels more consistent instead of constantly fluctuating. That in turn will keep your insulin levels even for more balanced energy.
Ideally you want to ingest around 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight if you are an active individual working out hard. Many people make the big mistake of starting a high intensity workout program and simultaneously cutting back on carbohydrates which then causes the body to raid other areas for needed energy. While most people hope it will raid fat, usually it raids protein and muscles first.
High vs. Low Glycemic
High-glycemic foods are often ones containing more simple sugars. These foods create a higher than normal production of insulin. They also cause the body to store more fat (except first thing in the morning, during a workout, or right after a workout). Low-glycemic foods digest slowly and keep insulin levels steady.
Low-glycemic or complex carbs are things like brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, whole-grain cereal, or flaxseed. Simple carbohydrates or high-glycemic foods would be white bread, potatoes, pancakes, and things with lot of sugar in them.
Right after you wake up is a great time for simple carbohydrates because more than likely you haven’t ingested any food in 8 to 10 hours and your system is starving. The simple carbs absorb and digest quickly giving you a nice boost to start your system going without being converted to fat easily. But you also want to mix in some complex carbs to stabilize the system and provide constant energy. A nice mix would be granola with raisins and a sprinkle of raw sugar or oatmeal with fruit and honey.
Simple carbs are also great during a workout to keep energy levels high. A very popular supplement is called maltodextrin that can be dissolved in a sports drink and then drank during your workout for a regular energy release. Then you will also want more after your workout to replenish the glycogen burned off during the workout. Drinks like Powerade or Gatorade are a great way to accomplish this.
But any other time you are taking in carbohydrates they should be of the complex variety to help keep your system and energy levels steady. Following these simple rules for the use of carbs can really help your energy during the day as well as give a much needed burst during a workout along with for post-workout recovery.