Carbs…Friend or Enemy?

Are you afraid to eat carbs?

Do you often wonder how many you should eat and when you should eat them?

The Science
When you eat carbohydrates your body breaks them down into simple sugars. Which then are absorbed into the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises in your body, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin is needed to move the sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy. As carbohydrates are broken down and enter the bloodstream, they increase the amount of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. The level of sugar in the bloodstream is called your blood sugar level. As you eat carbs, your blood sugar level rises, which activates the hormone insulin to suck the excess sugar out of the bloodstream and into your muscles (which can absorb about 300-400 grams) and your liver (which can absorb 100 grams).

Putting Carbs to Use
What happens if your sugar storage tanks (muscle & liver) are full and you keep on eating carbs? Any excess glucose that is not used by the body for energy will be stored as fat. The more “insulin sensitive” your muscles are, the more readily they will be to suck in sugar instead of having that sugar get converted to fat. And what’s a great way to make your muscles more insulin sensitive? Strength training of course!

When Should I Consume Carbs?
Starting out with a balance of carbs is important. Carbs are an energy source and can provide the energy needed to be more active and burn more calories. They are like fuel to the fire. The best time to have carbs is around a workout. This is when you’re putting the glycogen in the muscles to work. Also taking in carbs post workout can help give you energy for your next workout as well as help with protein synthesis.

To ensure I have a balance of carbohydrates in my system I like to cycle my carbs. Having lower and higher days. This keeps my body guessing and changes my daily calorie intake based on my workouts and the amount of calories I burn. This also ensures that I am not over consuming on delicious carbohydrates.