Everything you need to know about carbs and why they’re an essential part of your training regime
When beginning a new training routine, you will start to formulate a diet which best compliments your exercise. Many people jump to the conclusion that cutting out carbohydrates from their diet is the best option, with their mind on losing weight and getting fit quick.
This is a misconception however, as carbs are actually an essential part of getting fit and healthy. With their essential muscle repairing powers, you should be sure to keep them in your everyday meals.
What makes carbs so important?
The scientific formula of carbohydrates makes them an indispensable part of what we eat. There are three types of macronutrients that form the main part of our diet, these being carbohydrates, fat and protein. Within the carbohydrate category, there is sugar, starch and fibre.
As they are a huge source of energy, carbohydrates are essential in preventing fatigue and helping the body to function properly, this is of particular importance to those who exercise regularly. This is where carbohydrates are essential, as they’re the main source of energy for both our brains and bodies. When we consume carbohydrates, they break down into glucose. This is then stored in the liver and muscles and used to fuel our physical activity. It’s likely that you wouldn’t athletically perform as well without carbohydrates in your diet.
When you are training your body and focussing on particular areas, you need a constant source of energy to allow the muscles to grow and repair. This is where carbohydrates come into play. Glucose (the end product of carbohydrates) enables nutrients in the body to be used to make energy, this means that the protein in the muscles can focus on rebuilding and repairing muscle tissues.
Don’t forget to differentiate between the carbohydrate groups however, as some types are much more useful than others. Eating too much sugar, for example, will be bad for your health, but increasing your fibre intake is likely to give some benefits.
What does the research tell us?
Deciding what to eat and what not to eat can often be complicated by the amount of research that is continuously being released around the subject of diets. There is an abundance of recent research though that demonstrates the negatives of a low-carb diet.
Some research has actually found that eating a low-carb diet can shorten your lifespan (you can find results here). They concluded that a 50-year-old participant who consumes less than 30% carbs has a life expectancy of 79.1 years, but this rises to 82 years for someone who eats more than 65% carbs.
As well as increasing energy levels in the body, studies have also shown that carbohydrates can help with brain activity. A study published in November 2018 found that a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet could go as far as warding off dementia.
As a result of recent studies, a minimum intake of 25g of fibre each day is now recommended by scientists. This can be difficult to get used to, considering that two Weetabix only has 3g of fibre in and a thick slice of brown bread only has 2g.
Other training tips to consider
There are many other things you can consider that will guarantee the success of your training routine and prevent any injuries:
- Warming up – It’s always a good idea to warm up properly before physical activity. This increases your body’s core temperature, whilst improving the blood flow to the muscles you’re about to work. It will also help to prevent muscle strains, back injuries or pain in knee joints.
- Stay hydrated – Water can really help fuel your muscles, so it’s important to stay hydrated both before and after you train, try drinking little and often.
- Rest days — Rest days are equally as important as the way that you work out, as they allow your muscles to rebuild and prepare for the next workout.
- Treating injuries — Sprains can be common when exercising, as can injured muscles. Often, it’s inflammation that causes muscle pain, so treat these with pain relief gels to reduce the pain.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is essential to a successful training regime and carbs are an indispensable part of this. Recent research has revealed that alternative dietary recommendations may be a better alternative, such as increasing your “good” carbohydrate fibre uptake. Remember to follow other steps to get the best out of your exercise regime.