Nutrition News: Why You NEED Carbs

Welcome to your nutrition station :)

I hope you’ve fueled up with a good breakfast and are ready to go this Hump Day! As we forge ahead in our nutrition series, I think it’s important to address a BIG area of concern: CARBS

clean carbs

As my beautiful nutrition mentor and eat clean queen suggests, we all NEED carbs since they play such a huge role in fat burning and muscle building…..we just need to be selective about the source of our carbs.

flat abs breakfast

Clean carbs extend far beyond the general notion of breads and pastas. Carb sources include most of your plants, fruits and veggies, as well as other carb sources such as quinoa, oats, oat bran and even the almond milk you put in your coffee. These are all good, clean sources of carbs and should be enjoyed DAILY in your diet.

So, what is it that carbs do for you?

apple

For starters, carbs are your body’s most preferred fuel source for energy. If you look at competitive athletes and bodybuilders, the one’s who have been in the game the longest still eat carbs instead of relying on pre-workout drink mixes and fake sugars packed with caffeine. Why? Because your body can easily break carbs down into a usable fuel source (i.e. the glucose we store in our liver and muscles for the body to use during training). As we continue, let me clear up a common myth: there is no “fat burning zone”. At the end of the day, when we refer to fat loss, we are looking at how many calories your body can burn. By the way, I don’t rely on those fancy gadgets worn around certain body parts to tell me how many cals I burn per day….I look at how hard I work and how my clothes fit.

So, in the case of carbs, you have 2 kinds: simple and complex. When we think of simple, we usually think SUGAR. This is not too far off the mark, but I want to expand just a little. Simple sugars consist of either one or two molecules. One-molecule carbs are known as monosaccharides and include glucose, fructose and galactose…all of which are easy to digest. This means if these are taken in directly prior to training or playing a sport, your body can break them down for fuel very efficiently. If they are taken in before sitting at your desk for 4 straight hours, you body breaks them down and packs them into the storage unit, i.e. your fat molecules. So, watch those labels and think about your food. Two-moleculed simple carbs are called disaccharides and include sucrose, lactose, maltose and high fructose corn syrup. These are man-made and much harder for the body to break down in time of need. Lactose is, of course, the sugar in cow’s milk. More and more people are becoming allergic to this as a result of poor nutrition habits.

Complex carbs contain 3-20 molecules. Some are great, clean carbs (such as oats, brown rice, vegetables and quinoa) others are man-made, such as maltodextrins which are found in a variety of sports drinks. These belong to the oligosaccharides family :) . The polysaccharides are composed of more than 20, sometimes up the thousands of carb molecules. Have I lost you already??? Stay with me, you might learn something awesome :) If complex carbs have more molecule, this naturally makes them harder to break down right? So why do we need to choose them over the simple-sugar cousins down the road? Complex carbs provide indigestible fiber, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, gums, and pectins, and are extremely important for gastrointestinal health and disease prevention (particularly Type 2 Diabetes and certain forms of cancer).

So , the question remains: which carbs do we eat? The answer: selective carbs. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked :)

carbs

Without the proper consumption of carbs, we lack the muscle-building and fat burning know how within the human body. Most bodies require the same nutrients, just in different amounts based on genetics and lifestyle. So, if you are preparing for a long run in the morning, a breakfast consisting of oats, fruit, honey and a small protein source (egg, whey protein, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese) would be ideal. However, if you play desk jockey for hours on end, a small protein shake may be more beneficial (or a small egg and English muffin). I am a HUGE fan of eating oatmeal just before my workouts. I keep it clean and simple, adding fruits and maybe a dash of honey. This gives me the carbs my body needs to get started (from the fruit) and the carbs my body needs to keep me going AND start the recovery process (the oats).

It boils down to this: there is NO one true nutrient that needs to be completely cut out of your diet. NOTE: sugar is NOT a nutrient and simple sugar itself is not beneficial to the body. Our bodies were made to be highly efficient, but it is MY firm belief that we have “dieted” ourselves into inefficiency. We have disease that has not existed in the past (pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance) due to overall poor health and low standards for nutrition. Raise the bar for yourself! You now know that your body has needs and will be much more willing to do the work to shed the weight if you seek to meet those needs.

Need a little more help? I offer plenty of nutrition options online to get you started. Everything from meal plans to nutrition counseling. Think in basics though: know what you eat, take care of your health.

Until next time, HAVE A HEALTHY DAY!

Michelle

Leave a Reply