How Carbohydrates Provide Energy for Exercise

Fruits and Nuts
Fruits and Nuts

Carbohydrates are a vital energy source for your body, especially for your brain. It runs on glucose!

Energy for Your Muscles

Carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes, bread, etc. are often considered the “bad guys”. Yet there’s no better way to fuel your body for fitness activities and a great performance than consuming carbs.

The Minimum Amount of Carbs

To lose weight, many people ban carbohydrates from their plates. Yet, there’s no reason to fear that carbs will “make you fat,” and strictly banning them from your diet makes no sense. Your organs (brain, heart, lungs) rely on your carb intake. You should consume at least 120 g of carbohydrates per day. One serving of oats contains approximately 30 g, and one serving of whole wheat pasta provides 75 g of carbs. It’s not only the amount that counts, though – also the type of carbs you eat plays a vital role.

Not All Carbs Are Equal

Pure sugar makes our blood sugar levels spike. The consequent fast drop makes us prone to feeling tired, and experiencing cravings. Check out food labels to reveal not-so-healthy sugars. On the ingredient list, you’ll find macronutrients like carbs, fat and protein. Search for the sugar among the carbohydrates. The higher this value, the more your blood sugar level will skyrocket.

All You Need to Know about Carbs

The human body works like an oven: For it to burn something (fat), we have to keep putting wood (carbs) in the fire. This means we need carbohydrates to fuel our body, they give us energy. If we don’t provide our body with energy in the form of carbs, it will shift to muscle protein as a source of energy. In this case, the body will rely on and reduce your own muscle mass (instead of fat). That’s why carbohydrates are an essential energy source for your body – especially when doing strength training.

The brain consumes around one fifth of our daily carbohydrate requirement.

Recommendation on Carbs

Include approx. one handful of carbs in each main meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Go ahead and really use your hand to measure the amount. Opt for complex carbohydrates (long sugar chains). Here’s an example of how to satisfy your daily carb needs: 70g whole grain bread, 60g rice (raw) or 80g whole grain pasta (raw), 250g potatoes or 40g breakfast cereals (e.g. oats).

6 Practical Tips on Incorporating The Right Carbs in Your Diet

  • Go for whole grain! Whole grain bread or bread rolls are great carbohydrate sources which keep you full longer and won’t make your blood sugar level spike.
  • Make legumes a regular. Lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc. not only contain protein, but also provide valuable carbs.
  • Eat 3 main meals. Give your digestive system a break and don’t eat snacks rich in carbohydrates. This helps you optimize fat burning.
  • Accompany carbs with protein and fat. Combine the three macro nutrients to avoid skyrocketing blood sugar levels.
  • Careful: fruits contain carbs too! Don’t eat more than two pieces of fruit per day. If you’re craving a healthy snack between meals, nibble on raw carrots, or other veggies.
  • Ditch simple carbohydrates! Sugar, white bread or cookies also account for a sharp increase in your blood sugar level. As a consequence, you’ll get hungry faster!

 

Marcus

Written by Marcus

Fitness is not always easy and there is no perfect plan for everyone to stay fit for life. That is why I have set myself the goal of finding the most accessible way for people to build healthy lifestyles.