Carbs – A Quick Guide

Carbs – A Quick Guide

15th January 2019

We've all succumb to trends at some point in our lives - It's easy to carried with hyperbole! Food fads tend to be high on peoples agenda when it comes to the latest “in thing” especially come January. Low carb dieting has risen to prominence in recent years. In some quarters carbs have been blemished as evil, apparently causing fat storage and weight gain...don't believe the hype!

Over the past 50 years we’ve increased our calorie consumption whilst becoming more sedentary, hence the expansion in our waistlines coupled with the rise in diseases of the developed World. We’re fuelling ourselves on cheap processed foods that are high in calories and low on nutrients. Refined sugars are without doubt the biggest culprit in my eyes – AVOID PROCESSED SUGARS LIKE THE PLAGUE!

What, when and how many carbs should you be eating?

I’m going to keep this simple. Carbs in their simplest form are known as glucose, a sugar. Glucose is used by the brain and muscle tissues as energy, and that’s it! An excess could be stored as fat, which is also true of fats.

What carbs are best?

Like most things with nutrition the answer is “it depends”. They can be broken down into two categories;

  • Simple – having a simpler molecular structure they’re easily digested, getting into your blood stream quicker to set about finding a place to be used or stored. Great pre or post exercise for improved performance and recovery. Think fruits and white rice.
  • Complex – have a longer chain of molecules, which takes your digestive system longer to break down. The sugars are released slower into your blood stream giving a more sustained supply of energy. Then tend to be starchy with a higher fibre content. Great for fueling a moderate day of activity. Think oats, potatoes and brown rice.

When should I eat them?

I personally believe carbs don’t need to be eaten first thing, unless your pretty lean or about to be physically active for an extended period of time. If your previous meal contained a large serving of carbs you’ll more than likely have them stored within your muscle tissues and liver ready to use. It’s like your cars fuel tank being full or partially full. You don’t fill the tank every time you start it. You add what’s needed when required. Take this approach with your carb intake – it will help you find a place of balance and good health.

Post activity is when your body responds best to an intake of sugars, especially after resistance training. If you’ve moved little through out the day your need for carbohydrates will be reduced. Try eating more complex carbs in the afternoon or early evening – your body will have steadily burnt your stored sugars off through the day. 

How many do I need?

It depends on several factors;

  • Lean muscle mass
  • Activity levels
  • Desired outcomes

Use the below graphic to help guide you. The greater your muscle mass and/or physical activity levels are the more you’ll need. If your smaller in stature and/or less active then reduce your intake. Goals wise if your looking to increase your frame add an extra portion of carbs post exercise. Conversely look to take a portion away from your meals if weight loss is your desired outcome. The truth is no two people are the same, so a little experimentation on your part will be need to find your sweet spot.

Yours in health,