Let’s talk about carbohydrates aka carbs. More specifically, simple carbs like pasta, bread, rice, potatoes. We all love them. Because we’re hardwired to love them. It comes down to energy. Carbs are converted to energy. Glucose. Sugar. It’s not our fault we are addicted to it. Blame evolution. Because we evolved in an environment of feast and famine. We overate in times of plenty to store fat for times of scarcity. Which thankfully, is no longer the case for most of us.
So yes we need energy to live, to breathe to move. But when we consume too much energy, our bodies are programmed to store.
What to do? Are carbs bad? Not exactly. It depends. When you’re young you need more carbs for growth, your metabolism handles carbs well. As we age, our bodies slow down. We are no longer growing, resulting in less natural metabolic demand for energy. Couple this with a less active lifestyle, and carbs are more easily converted to fat. It might end up on your middle, or on your arms. For me it always ends up on my thighs and derriere. :)
YES we can eat carbs without gaining fat. It is a matter of when we eat them and how much we consume. Ideally you should consume carbs after a workout - you have a window of about two hours where the carbs will be more readily absorbed into your depleted muscles.
Being stored as glycogen (not fat) so the muscles are primed and ready for the next workout. But you don’t need a lot. If you are a woman your portion is about the size of your fist. For a man, two fists. Simple. And always strive to eat carbs that are less processed i.e. closer to their natural state, and more nutritious and fibrous. Sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes, which are better than pasta and bread. You get it.
To recap: we all need some amount of carbs. If we’re trying to lose fat and uncover sexy, strong muscles underneath, then eat carbs after a hard workout. One fist for a woman, two fists if you’re a man. Choose the least processed option possible, one which is nutrient dense. Just do the best you can.
Note: If you have been following a low carb or no carb diet, and have noticed you are not sleeping well, it may be an indicator that you are not getting enough carbs. Your brain uses carbs as it’s primary source of fuel so there is that to consider.
And if you’re training load is high you’ll definitely need carbs to replenish and recover as discussed above. Otherwise you may feel sluggish, recovery will be impaired and performance sub-optimal.
There's no point getting lean at the expense of your well-being! xo