Getting Smart with your Carbs

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In the lead up to this weekend’s Brighton Marathon, I am now resting up and have significantly lowered my training mileage, focussing even more on getting my nutrition right this week. It’s made me think a lot about carbs and the misconception it has in society, especially as a young women. Media sources (i.e. Only Way is Essex) have given the nation a stigma about carbs, that they are bad for you, or that you will put on weight from consumption.

I have had comments during marathon training such as “you must be able to eat whatever you want”, or “you must be able to eat endless amounts of carbs” which is not completely correct. Once you understand exactly what nutrient gains you get from each food type, carbs including, means you will be able to get the best out of your food - avoiding tiredness, hunger pangs, putting on excess weight.

So it’s important to understand how your body utilises nutrients, so you know what to eat, and when.

Focus on the type of carb and the most effective time to eat - Timing and Type.

Once you know how to eat carbs smartly  will get the best out of each food type.

Here is my breakdown of carbs and how you can relate them to your training or workout sessions.

Simple and Complex Carbs

Both Simple and Complex provide you with energy, the only difference is nutrient density. Basically, complex carbs will provide you with more energy and keep you fuller for longer. Simple Carbs (sugar) will give you energy for shorter time periods, and thus making you hungry sooner.

Simple Carbs (Sugars)

  • Table Sugar (sucrose)
  • Fruit (Fructose)
  • Sweets
  • Jam
  • Honey
  • Milk (Lactose)
  • Energy Drinks (glucose)

Complex Carbs (starches)

  • Wheat (bread, pasta)
  • Oats,
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Vegetables

Low GI Carbs Vs High GI Carbs

LOW GI - enters your bloodstream slowly, and therefore used by the body for energy slower, therefore no sudden spurts of energy and feeling fuller for longer.

HIGH GI - carbs with high GI enters your blood stream quickly, this is when you feel a burst of energy. Once this occurs you will become hungry.

Both forms have their place, find out when thee best time to eat both is below:

High GI Carbs Examples:

  1. Sweets (fructose)
  2. Honey
  3. Milk (lactose)
  4. Bagel/Baguette
  5. White Rice
  6. Baked potato
  7. Fruit juice
  8. Watermelon
  9. Parsnip

High GI Carbs benefits and when to eat:

  • Good for refuelling during exercise
  • Instant supply of glucose if consumed shortly before exercise.
  • After exercise
  • Promotes fat storage due to high insulin response (basically that sudden spike in energy after you have eaten something sweet)

Low GI Carbs Examples:

  • Rye/Linseed bread
  • Whole grain bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Oat based food (porridge)
  • High Bran Cereals
  • Basmati Rice
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Boiled potatoes in skin
  • Fresh fruit - apple, pear, citrus fruit, plums, grapes
  • Vegetables - Carrots, Sweet potato (medium GI), Beetroot (Medium GI), Sweetcorn (Medium GI)

Low GI Carbs Benefit and when to each:

  • Controls hunger
  • Keeps you fuller for longer
  • Does not promote fat storage caused by high insulin response
  • Before prolonged exercise

Summary:

  • Glucose - Carbs are converted to glucose before being utilised in cells in the body for energy.
  • Your muscles rely on carbs for muscle contraction. If you want to get toned - you need to eat carbs!
  • Remember food = Energy in! Exercise/everyday activities like walking around = Energy out.
  • If energy in is higher than energy out this will = to weight being put on.  

Please - stop denying your body of key nutrients. Love your body and take the time to understand how to properly nurture it <3