Play your carbs right
July 5, 2011
Whether you’re into fitness, or a perhaps a little more reluctant, I’m guessing that you’ve heard about ‘carbs’ – or carbohydrates to give them their full name. Carbs have been vilified in the modern day nutritional media frenzy. Unjustly so.
We all know carbs are bad for us right? And we should exclude them from our diets. That they play havoc with our blood sugar levels and insulin secretion, and that they are a high-speed ticket to weight gain and more specifically, belly fat? Well, not quite.
Sure, many of us eat too many of the wrong type of carbs. And this really is a ticket to an undesireable waistline. But we absolutely need the right type of carbs in our diets. We need carbs for energy. Our brains rely on carbs to function. Our mood is hugely influenced by our carb intake. Fat burning is dependent on sufficient carbs. And so on.
The answer is not to exclude them completely, rather eating the right kinds, at the right time.
It’s crucial to recognise two things here:
1. There’s a huge difference between man-made (Neolithic) carbs and natural (Paleolithic) carbs, and
2. Both fruits and vegetables are carbs.
Paleolithic sources (that is fruits and vegetables) are crucial for health and need to be included in our diets. It’s the man-made Neolithic sources (bread, pasta, rice, crackers, etc) that are the culprits when it comes to weight gain and these should be limited or avoided if you want optimum health. And especially so if you are trying to lose body fat. So it’s not carbs per se thats the issue, rather the source.
As for timings, the best time to eat your higher GI carbs is after your workouts. This is the time when your body is better equipped to process these and use them in the right way. Also, aligning your carb intake to your level of activity is sensible. (You don’t get to re-fuel when the tank hasn’t been emptied).
Bottom line, be mindful of the source of carbohydrate, align your intake to your activity level and get the timing of intake right, but never cut carbs completely. You need them.