Carbohydrates are the most misunderstood nutrient of them all. People say no to them, they make you fat, others say you need loads so consume loads of junk carbs whilst others don’t know which ones to take at what time of the day.
The truth is that there are carbohydrates in almost every food you consume every day, apart from meat. So as an athlete who needs carbs, does that mean they all good for you? Of course not. They are split into two main categories, low and high Glycemic Index. Any carbohydrate’s category is determined by the G.I. content of it. So anything with a G.I. of 55 or below is classed as low, 56-69 is classed as medium and 70+ is classed as high.
Low G.I. is the best variety for about 95% of the day for you. This is because they are digested very slowly meaning that you have a steady level of energy for the entire day, and there is less chance the calories will be converted into body because your body has longer to metabolise the calories! The best sources for low G.I. carbohydrates are wholemeal varieties of pasta, rice and oats. During the day these are the carbohydrates you want on your plate. It has been shown that whilst working anaerobically the majority of your energy comes from these very carbs. Therefore you want plenty of them.
High G.I. carbs are mainly poor sources of energy. This is because they digest very quickly, and if your body does not have a use for them they will then be converted into energy straight away, which in turn will increase your body fat levels. However they do have their uses for 2 short periods of the day. The first being very first thing in the morning after an 8 hour fast, your body will utilize fast digesting carbohydrates to convert itself back into an anabolic state. By getting these in your body will stop using your muscle as fuel and instead scoff on these carbs right away. The same scenario occurs right after your workout. These 2 periods of the day only can you afford high G.I. carbohydrates. Common sources for high G.I. carbohydrates are white bread, white rice, white bagel, potato and certain sugars such as dextrose. Often you will see athletes having a baked potato post-workout, and that is why.
From here you are able to determine which carbohydrates you want at various times of the day. By eating the right carbohydrates at the right time of the day, you can dramatically increase muscle mass, shed body fat and have increased energy levels in the gym. Embracing the power and effects of carbohydrates will take you to the next level!