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“What are you telling me, start eating carbs today? I just started my low-carb diet!”. This is a statement that is said more often than it is given lasting results.
Many people, athletes or not, have the thought that carbohydrates are not part of the physical results they want to achieve. But the opposite is true. Carbohydrates are precisely what you need before exercise, as well as for muscle recovery and achieving results. Eating carbohydrates after exercise restores blood sugar, through the release of insulin. Insulin brings amino acids and glucose to the muscle cells. This is conducive to muscle recovery.
Do you not do any sport? Then you just need them too. In exceptional cases, carbohydrates are removed from the diet. For example, when someone enters a fitness competition and has to stand on the stage in his dry underwear to show off his body. No matter how you look at it, carbohydrates are the most important fuel for our body.
Just as your houseplant won’t be happy if it doesn’t get any water, your body won’t be happy if it doesn’t get any carbohydrates.
Carbs are our body’s main fuel. Just as your houseplant won’t be happy if it doesn’t get water, your body won’t be happy if it doesn’t get carbohydrates.
Carbs are a starch. Like proteins and fats, carbohydrates are a macronutrient. Or, a main nutrient that the body still has to function. Carbs and sugars are frequently used in the same context. Yet, they are 2 completely different nutrients.
Sugars say something about the quality of a carbohydrate. When we talk about “good” carbs, we are talking about carbs that are low in sugar and high in fiber. These carbohydrates have a lesser impact on our blood sugar. Anyway, carbs are the first energy supplier for our body. In a good diet, at least half of the energy comes from carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are digested, 3 nutrients remain; glucose, fructose and galactose. Glucose is the one that gives us energy.
Foods that are high in sugar have a faster effect on our blood sugar levels. The faster sugars are delivered to the blood, the faster blood sugar will rise and fall again. These fluctuations are harmful to your blood vessels, make you feel less satiated and reduce your concentration. The sugars that cause these fluctuations are also called “bad carbs,” or white sugars. You can find them in products such as soft drinks, sweet spreads, cookies, chips, candy and pastries.
As you’ve read, glucose gives us energy. The brain is not able to store glucose. They don’t weigh much, about 1-1.5kg. Despite their light weight, they do consume 30% of the energy your body has available. Can you already imagine, that if they don’t have storage capabilities and you don’t give them glucose, or carbs, the function is not optimal?
Carbs are essential for the functioning of our brain. But not only that. Carbs also support gut health. The fiber from carbohydrates stimulates the good bacteria in the intestines and contributes to healthy peristalsis.
Okay, so you really need carbs for sports and in everyday life to function optimally. And preferably ‘good carbs’. The sources listed below are sources of carbohydrates that you can safely add to your daily diet. But for everything goes; in moderation.
– Whole wheat pasta
– Whole wheat bread
– Whole wheat couscous
– Quinoa, oats and bulgur – Legumes
– Unpolished rice
– Peas and Read
– Whole wheat crackers
Carbs are extremely important for sports. Because during a sports session you have less oxygen at your disposal, glucose is called upon as a quick supplier of energy. Your muscles are, in contrast to the brain, capable of storing glucose. A lot of oxygen is needed to set fat burning in motion. And that oxygen is exactly what you can use for your training. Only in extreme cases will your body switch to fat burning.
Does your glucose supply run out? Then you get tired. You probably recognize it. You’ve eaten some nice carbohydrates before exercise, then in the morning you swing the dumbbells back and forth a few times and do a number of repetitions in the bench press and you’re broken. Do this in the late afternoon and you’ll probably get more reps. If you have eaten well during the day your energy supply is sufficiently replenished and you can probably even add weight to your dumbell or barbell.
How quickly your glucose supply is depleted, and you therefore become fatigued, depends on the degree of exertion and the duration of the workout. In general, the supply is depleted after about an hour and a half of intensive training. So, are you planning to do an intensive workout longer than one and a half hours? Make sure you have a snack with fast sugars to replenish the glucose supply. For example, a sports drink, banana, energy bar, granola bar or a raisin.
The exact amount of carbohydrates you need depends on the number of calories you eat during the day. A formula to calculate your daily calorie needs is the Harris & Benedict.
And now it’s time for the real thing. Push that low-carb diet aside, grab a big plate of pasta and push that barbell into the air or get ready for a nice run. Do you notice that you regularly suffer from muscle soreness or muscle cramps? With proper fluid intake during your workout and the use of a FitGun afterwards, your muscles will recover faster.