The question we ask all the time is, Are Carbs Good for you and your ‘diet’??? There are so many different answers. Some say Yes while others say No! Some people have high carb diets, some people have low to no carb diets or some people carb cycle.
Well my answer and the answer that I have found while studying NASM is YES, carbs are good for you!! But not all carbs are created equal. An apple and handful of candy both contain carbs, but one is better then the other. Carbohydrates are the source of fuel that the body needs and uses most efficiently. Did you know that there are different types of Carbs? There are monosaccharide, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides is a single sugar unit and the most common are glucose (blood sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar). Disaccharides are two sugar units that include sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk sugar). Polysaccharides come from starches and fiber. We need these forms of carbs to fuel our body and help maintain our energy levels.
“Carbohydrate availability is vital for maximal sports performance. When performing high-intensity, short-duration activity (anaerobic), muscular demand for energy is provided for and dependent on muscle glycogen” (NASM Carbohydrate Performance, Ch. 17).
So how many carbs can I have in a day???
There are a lot of factors that go into determining how many carbs a person should consume in a day. It depends on their height, weight, active lifestyle and goals. In general according to NASM, a diet containing between 6 and 10g/kg per day of carbs is recommended. Don’t forget that a carb is 4 calories per gram, protein is 4 calories per gram and fat is 9 calories per gram. (I’ll talk about protein & fat in another post). For example, my macros I eat 1842 calories and 166g of carbs.
How many carbs should you eat before exercise?
You should aim to eat a high carbohydrate meal 2 to 4 hours before exercising for more than an hour. Make sure to drink 20oz of water too. A carb meal before a workout will give you the energy you need to complete your workout.
1/2cup dried oats, 1 cup berries and 1/2 almond milk (mix together and microwave)
toast with 1tbsp peanut butter and banana and 1 cup yogurt
To help replenish your glycogen level you should also eat a high carb meal/snack after your workout, preferable within 30 minutes of completing your workout. Try to consume 1.5g/kg of carbs after your workout.
berries with yogurt
mixed green salad with chicken
Will Carbs make me gain weight??
Honestly, no if you do it the right way! There are other factors that can cause you to gain weight. Are you exercising daily? What exactly are you putting into your mouth? Are you eating clean whole foods or processed food….and are you overeating? Did you know that you can also overeat healthy food? Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean you can eat any amount of it. You need to read labels and serving sizes. Start keeping track of your food. Use a food journal or one of my favorites is the My Fitness Pal app. The app will help you keep track of your food intake (calories and macros). It also has a ton of restaurants items listed, so you won’t have an excuse to fall off the wagon. Start exercising! If you are brand new to the whole workout thing, start by going for a walk for 30 minutes. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day 6 days a week. If exercising is not your thing, get an accountability partner. Check in daily with that partner or meet up to workout together. It is much easier to stick to a workout routine when you have someone else to do it with.
So all in all, carbs do not make you fat and yes you should be consuming carbs daily! Aim to consume 40-60% of your total caloric intake. Carbs will help with your energy levels and maintaining the glycogen stores. Carbs efficiently burn and use fat and protein. Eat up!!
Source: NASM textbook, ch. 17