Carbs - What you need to know

What is a carbohydrate?

Carbohydrates are organic molecules typically classified according to their structure. There are two main types of carbohydrate structures: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates are smaller, more easily processed molecules known as mono- and disaccharides.

Complex carbohydrates are called polysaccharides.

But you don’t care about that… the important take away is that not all carbs are created equal, and therefor they cannot be good or bad.

Carbohydrates are a direct energy source for the muscle and nervous system. However its worth noting that there is no essential carbs unlike fats (essential fatty acids) and protein (essential amino acids).

What kind of carbs should I eat?

Carbs have been given a bad rap, along with fat, but as for anything in nutrition it depends on the individuals physiology, activity level and preference.

That being said, for most people just looking for good health and body composition you should try to get you carbohydrate intake from complex sources like whole grains, brown rice, potatoes (don’t freak out about what type of potatoes unless you’re a competitive body builder), fruit and vegetables. The best place to start is trying to get your carbs in from whole food sources, rather then processed breads and pastas.

That doesn’t mean that other carbs don’t have there time and place, some athletes or people in physically demanding jobs, may require more processed and easier to digest fuels.

How much carbs should I be eating?

Again this comes down to the individual, we look at a clients activity, fat mass and goals before recommending daily carb intakes. But here are some basic guidelines:

– If you are sedentary and looking to lose weight, you will probably do better on a low(er) carbohydrate diet, with the majority of your carbs coming from fruits and veggies.

– If you are a leaner individual (below 15% body fat), then you will be able to tolerate carbs better then others who are not.

– Using carbs post workout and before bed lead to better recovery.

– Using carbs post workout can aid in building muscle mass.

Carbs aren’t the enemy, but as with everything nutrition; get to know what works for you!

NutritionJames Grogan