What comes to mind when you think of carbs?
Things I often hear from people are the following:
The list goes on and on… But news flash:
CARBS ARE NOT THE ENEMY. (Too many carbs is the enemy. Too much of any macronutrient is the enemy.)
Carbs are pretty much human gasoline that powers our bodies and minds daily. YOUR DAILY LIFE REQUIRES ENERGY. CARBS PROVIDE ENERGY. They are typically the macro that we, as athletes, need the most to support our workouts. Yes, protein is the most important but carbs follow closely behind. Carbs typically get a bad reputation. But what is my point?
If you are working out extremely hard or intense (especially CrossFit), you need enough carbs to perform at your best. Carbs are used first by the body during tough workouts. Your body needs glucose from carbs but if you aren’t eating any, your body uses amino acids instead which then results in muscle loss. Our bodies literally depend on carbs to be able to function properly. Our brains need carbs as fuel. Therefore, low carb diets are not the answer (especially for athletes).
Sure, you might see a great deal of weight loss when starting a “low-carb/no-carb diet” but there are negative setbacks. A lot of times, when people restrict themselves of carbs or go on a “no-carb diet”, all they end up doing is ruining their metabolism and usually gain weight back after they are no longer able to maintain that diet.
I often see problems with carb intake when people eat the Paleo diet. With this diet, people often significantly reduce the amount of carbohydrates they are consuming. Vegetables and fruit will provide the body with some carbs, but it’s usually a big change from their previous diet. People often notice weight loss right away but eventually, the weight loss may stall which leads to cutting carbs even more which basically puts the body into starvation mode. Basically, a low-carb diet will effect your body in negative ways and force your system out of whack.
Ladies, I KNOW the word “carbs” can seem scary to you. BUT, it shouldn’t be scary. I tell my female athletes this often, “If you want to get stronger, you NEED to eat carbs (especially on your workout days).” Your energy levels will increase, hunger decreases, you perform better at the gym, you won’t be hangry all the time, and you will build muscle!
The amount of carbs you are consuming daily could be the missing piece of the puzzle in relation to losing weight, gaining strength, recovering from your workouts, boosting your energy, regulating your metabolism, and so on. We all need a different amount of carbs based on our own bodies, activity level, weight, gender, goals, etc but we all still NEED them in our diets.
No, you don’t need to eat endless amounts of pasta and rice. You also don’t need processed, refined carbs as the main foods in your diet. But you do need an appropriate amount of good carb sources daily like vegetables, fruit, potatoes, rice, whole-grain bread, oats, etc.
Some signs you might need to up your carb intake: you are training at high-intensity regularly, you are struggling to recover from your workouts, your hormone levels are out of whack or you stop receiving your menstrual cycle, you often feel fatigued or lacking energy (especially in your workouts), you aren’t losing any weight or weight loss has stalled, or you were previously eating a very low-carb diet for a long period of time.
BOTTOM LINE: EAT CARBS PEOPLE. Do not fear them. They are your friend!
*Need help with nutrition, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
I am passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle for myself & helping those around me.