Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Carbs

Websites, TV, Commercials, and maybe even your Trainer are constantly telling you to eat healthier, but you do realize that to function and work out effectively, you do need your carbs. However, with the development of the "anti-carb" diets, I think we've all been led to believe that all carbs are bad. Let's debunk that theory a bit.

Why do you need carbs?
You need your carbs for energy, plain and simple. If you work out, you may think that you only need protein to rebuild muscle tear after strenuous strength exercises. But to get enough strength for your muscles to be able to work hard enough, you need to feed on carbs. Some of the carbs you eat are stored as glycogen - your muscles' only source of energy. So if you find that you get lift less and less weights in the gym, you may not be getting enough carbs.

Additionally, for the cardio portion of your workout, you need to constantly replenish your body's energy source to do more and move more.

Did you also know that if you do not eat enough carbs, your body will look for the energy it needs to survive elsewhere, probably in the protein you eat? This means that rather than being used to repair your muscles, you might find that your protein intake is serving another purpose - supplying your body energy. This could affect your muscle tone.

Are certain carbs better than others?
Definitely! Rather than focus on the "all carbs are bad" theory, focus on what carbs are good. Healthy carbs are less processed carbs that digest slower to keep you fuller longer and keep your blood sugar stable. Unhealthy carbs are highly processed carbs that give you immediate blood sugar and energy spikes, but also digest very quickly and cause you to get hungry quicker. So obviously you should be aiming for more healthy carbs, right?

Examples of healthy carbs that you should be eating?
The less processed, the better for you. Reach for the oats, whole grains, brown rice, and vegetables over the white bread, sugary cereals, and cookies. With food that comes packaged, one rule of thumb is to look for how many ingredients are on the pack. Do you see a bunch of things you can't pronounce? Look for an option with fewer unprocessed whole grain ingredients. It is not always easy, but the key is to find options that are healthy and enjoyable, and it gets easier and easier as you get used to making the right decisions.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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