CARBS and are they really the bad guy?

Carbs are what’s making you fat.”

We’ve all heard the gym bro who talks about carbs and how they are the reason you cannot reach your weight loss and fitness goals. Is he right? Are carbs really the source of your continued frustration in the gym and the results that you just aren’t seeing?

No! By no means are carbs the source of your fitness woes! There is still hope for all you carb lovers out there (myself included). First, though in order to understand why carbs aren’t the bad guys we need to understand what a carb is.

The definition of carbs is…Any large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues which include: sugar, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water and are typically broken down and stored for energy…Carbs are made from three elements which are oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon which can be broken down into the three saccharides. These three saccharides are monosaccharides (glucose), disaccharides (sucrose & fructose), and polysaccharides (starch & cellulose).

The basic function of these sugars and of carbs in general are to be broken down and stored in either short or long-term energy stores. That is where the debate of whether complex carbs or simple (fast-digesting) carbs are better for you, begins? The quality of carbs which you consume can have substantial affects towards your training and your body composition. Which carb do you think would be better, carbs from a sweet potato or carbs from a piece of candy? Trick question, gotcha didn’t I! It all depends, the carbs from the sweet potato can be very beneficial in regards to training recovery and from a nutritional standpoint, however, after a grueling workout your body needs those simple and fast-acting sugars in order to replenish your depleted stores. So in this case the candy would actually prove to be more optimal. What it really comes down to is the timing of your carbs and the manner in which you use them or more correctly how your body will use them. What most people don’t understand is how to properly use carbs to their advantage or they are just eating too many all together.

There are plenty of positives to carbs. For endurance athletes carbs give them a source of energy that they can draw from to help them push through that last mile.  For weightlifters and bodybuilders carbs are a great source of energy that help replenish depleted glycogen and assist in muscle recovery after an intense session. As stated by Dr. Paul Cribb in a Blog post on carbs “The answer is carbohydrate timing. The intake of just the right carbohydrates at just the right time results in more effective muscle glycogen accumulation, better recovery, and a more potent muscle growth stimulus.” This answer is spot on! Nothing derails a persons fitness goals faster than feeding your body the wrong things or feeding your body too much. Your body, performance in the gym, and everyday life has the potential to be enhanced by the correct supply of carbs and the correct nutrient timing. According to a study done by the GSSI (Gatorade Sports Science Institute) and the CPSDA (Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association) there were tremendous benefits to including carbs in the athletes diets such as: improved endurance, sprint performance, and the ability to recover Blog. Other positives include:

-providing the body with energy

-allowing protein regulation

-aiding in muscle recovery

-aiding in the process of our immune systems

Need I say more? While some people may do well on a low-carb diet fear not, you do not have to subject yourself to the same horrors! However, carbohydrates can still become the bad guy if you let them in the form of calories. It all comes down to total caloric intake. If you are taking in too many carbohydrates and your body doesn’t need those excess calories, then yes it will be stored as body fat. This can be countered simply by tracking your macros and finding out how many calories your body needs in order to reach your goals.

Next time you hear that gym bro or girl talking about how carbs are the devil; don’t sweat it. Carbs can be a positive thing when used the correct way with a proper fitness program and can give your body the support it needs to crush your fitness goals!

 

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