Carbohydrates are probably the most misunderstood nutritional block of our diets. Whenever guys want to lose weight, carbs are the first thing to go. To an extent, our carb intake should be monitored carefully. But that’s the case with everything we eat, not just carbs. We need carbs in our diet. They contain glucose, which our bodies use as fuel to power through everyday activities and our workouts. With less carbs in our system, our bodies have to resort to stored energy sources to keep going. Those stored sources can be fat, but sometimes, we can lose muscle, too. Before you decide to go carb-free, consider these factors.
Benefits of Carbs
Carbs have lots of other positive effects on our lives. Healthy carbs contain lots of fiber. Consuming the right amount of fiber daily helps reduce bloating and push out the body’s impurities. Also, if you want to master a tough cardio session, carbs are your best friend. This is where your energy comes from.
Additionally, carbs are the one energy source that your body can start using right away. Fats and proteins need to be broken down and processed over several hours before they provide energy. Carbs go to work almost immediately upon being consumed. For an athlete that’s in the gym or on the trail daily, that’s a huge advantage.
Types of Carbs
As with any food group, there are good carbs and bad carbs. Simple or whole carbohydrates aren’t processed and contain the highest sources of natural fiber. Complex or refined carbs are processed and, consequently, contain little to no natural fiber. Complex carbs also contain a lot of added sugars.
Good carb sources include fruits, legumes, vegetables and grains. These are the most natural, fiber-rich carbs money can buy. And unlike complex carbs, these carbs have lower calorie counts. So, feel free to load them on your plate and reap the positive benefits without fear of weight gain.
Bad carb sources include any type of white grains like regular bread and pasta. Also, pastries, sweetened beverages and artificial fruit juices are included. These foods and drinks are loaded with sugar in place of nutritional content. You can have these in moderation but don’t count on them to help you achieve your body goals.
How to Track Carb Intake
Ideally, you’ve already calculated your macronutrient requirements using one of the many free calculators online. These calculators will tell you how many carbs you should consume. Be sure to log what you eat. If you indulge in complex carbs, be honest with yourself. When you load them into your calorie counter, you’ll see the impact they have on your diet. Simple carbs will allow you to kick up your carb intake without negative effects.
In the battle to achieve our fitness goals, carbs are not the enemy. They’re the exact opposite-a mandatory part of our diets that fuel our workouts and regulate peak bodily functions. Instead of cutting back, get acquainted with good carbs and power through to your next target.