Why Carbohydrates are good
As we know, there are 3 macronutrients that the body needs in order to fuel itself effectively. These macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fat. Quite often, carbohydrates (CHO's) get a bad rap (no pun intended). This is actually due to the fact that when CHO's are overeaten, they lead to fat storage. However, there are many reasons why CHO's should not be completely avoided and why it is actually very important to ensure you are eating the right amount of CHO's.
Carbohydrates are required for energy:
CHO's are the first-choice fuel source for your body (especially during exercise). Due to being the first-choice fuel source for your body, CHO's are actually needed in order to help your body to function optimally, in particularly your brain. If you are not getting the right amount of CHO's in your nutrition plans, your body will enter a state of Ketosis (where fats and proteins (Muscle tissue) are turned into Ketones in order to fuel your brain and body). Ketones are actually toxic and can lead to a fatal condition called ketoacidosis.
Ketosis is not maintainable for long periods without doing serious damage to your body. Being in a state of ketosis will also leave you feeling tired and lethargic, due to the bodies need for the quick energy CHO's provide. However, decreasing your CHO intake to a level to which you are not overconsuming CHO's is a very achievable way to control your weight and increase your physical fitness, energy and general wellbeing.
CHO's help you build muscle:
Due to CHO's being the first-choice fuel for your muscles to use (especially in low duration, explosive exercises), they are the predominant fuel burned during a weights session. Therefore, CHO's indirectly affect your ability to build lean muscle. If you are not eating to your CHO requirement, you may not be able to work at an intensity high enough to build muscle (& we know that having a higher amount of lean muscle will allow the body to be more effective at burning energy, therefore burning fat as you rest!)
CHO's help you to burn fat:
This happens in a number of ways:
CHO's allow you to work harder during both weights (as discussed above) and hard cardio sessions. With the hard-cardio session in particular, CHO's will allow you to push yourself to a high intensity. After you complete the session due to the intensity you were pushing yourself to your metabolism will remain raised for up to 1 hour after completing exercise, however your muscles will not need the more quickly burned fuel (CHO's). Your muscles will be able to return your body to a resting state by burning fat instead (particularly if you have avoided CHO's for 2-3 hours before the session)!
CHO's help your body release important hormones:
Leptin: Leptin is the fat burning hormone. When carbohydrate levels are too low Leptin levels become lower too, decreasing your body's ability to burn stored fat.
Thyroid Hormone: Thyroid hormone is responsible for your metabolism. Low CHO diets tend to decrease the levels of Thyroid Hormone in the body, therefore slowing the metabolism, stalling fat loss.
CHO's contain dietary fibre:
Fibre is the main micronutrient that is essential for maintaining bowel health. Many CHO's contain fibre, some examples include beans, oats, fruit and vegetables, brown rice, wholemeal/wholegrain breads & pastas.
Don't cut CHO's out, eat the right quality and quantity of CHO's:
Carbohydrates are an extremely important macronutrient, but eaten in the incorrect quantities can of course lead to fat gain. Use your CHO macronutrient value to fill your day with better choices of carbohydrates and reap the benefits of having more energy, feeling healthier and being a fat loss machine!
Poor Choice CHO's: Foods to avoid for fat loss!
Sugars, white bread/wraps, dried fruit & fruit juice, soft drinks, flavoured iced teas, lollies (added sugar or not), chocolate, cakes, potato chips, hot chips, take away buns, muffins etc.
Moderate choice CHO's: Include 2-3 servings per day:
Rice cakes/corn thins, Brown rice, quinoa, couscous, any beans, wholemeal grains/wraps/pasta, oats, bananas, apples, Potatoes (Sweet and regular) etc.
Best choice CHO's: Include 5 servings per day to supercharge fat loss & energy!
Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, snow peas, capsicums, berries, stone fruits (etc. peaches & nectarines), any fibrous vegetables.
Choose slower release CHO's (low GI) in order to slowly release sugars into the blood so you can sustain your energy for longer without having to fuel up on poor choice CHO's. Choosing the wholemeal/wholegrain options are always better than choosing the white breads as the wholemeal/wholegrain options have a lower GI. However, it is also important to remember that low GI does not necessarily mean low CHO content. A sweet potato has approximately 6g more CHO per 100g than a regular potato despite being a low GI food. Always refer to VVT before adding CHO's into your food plans.
Thanks for reading, I hope this article has given you some valuable information about CHO's/ changed your perception on CHO's. Remember, CHO's are not the enemy and used properly they will fuel your body for fat loss & fitness! Remember to look to your VVT account & ask your trainer for your optimal amount of CHO's to consume per day!*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.