Carbohydrates have been somewhat demonized by the fitness industry in recent years. But this doesn’t mean you should be afraid of them!
There is a right and a wrong way to consume your carbs. We’d like to discuss some important do’s and don’ts about carbs and give you a framework for how to incorporate them into your diet in the best way for you and your individual goals.
5 Do’s & Don’ts of Carbs
1) DO eat complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are healthier for you, more nutrient dense will fill you up longer, and won’t spike your blood sugar quite as much as things like pasta, bread, candy, pastries, and anything else containing refined sugar. And if you’re working out regularly, you almost definitely need carbs. Otherwise, you may not recover as well and your metabolism might become stunted.
So, what are complex carbs? Think any and all veggies, fruits, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and whole grains, assuming you don’t have an intolerance to gluten or a hard time with carbohydrate portion control (and let’s admit it: that’s a lot of us!).
2) DON’T consume tons of carbs during breakfast.
If you’re trying to cut back on body fat, we recommend avoiding carbs in the morning. Why? By consuming something like a banana, oatmeal, or sugary cereal, you’re essentially kicking yourself out of a highly efficient metabolic state, which you naturally fall into as you sleep.
Instead, trying “breaking your fast” at breakfast with some protein, healthy fats, and green veggies to keep the fat-burning engine going, and get your first dose of carbs in at lunch.
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3) DO consume carbs within 20-45 minutes after a tough workout.
You need to replenish your muscles’ glycogen (energy) stores following a workout to facilitate muscle strengthening and cellular repair. Plus, your insulin sensitivity is highest right after a workout, which means your body will be able to utilize carbs most efficiently during this post-workout window.
4) DO avoid drinking your carbs.
The less sugar and carbs you get from your beverages, the better. Things like sodas, sweetened teas and coffees, and even (especially) fruit juices will fill you up with empty calories, and unfortunately not much else.
5) DON’T just eat carbs the way your friends do.
Nutrition and exercise principles serve as important guideposts to help you stay on track and heading in the right direction toward your goals but realize that there’s really nothing in the health and fitness world that’s one-size-fits-all. That said, the type, amount, and way your friend or gym buddy consumes carbohydrates may be different than what you need, based on your current health status, your goals, and your activity level.