Carbs have a bad reputation, particularly simple carbs and especially amongst the ladies. There is a popular misconception that carbs in general make you fat, which leads many people to believe that avoiding them is the best route to fat loss and achieving the physique of their dreams.
This is not the case, and carbs are a great tool in your fat loss journey! Read on to find out why.
Types of carbohydrates
There are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex.
Complex carbohydrates are slower digesting than simple carbohydrates, meaning they release energy slower. This also means that they have less of an effect on your blood sugar levels than fast acting carbohydrates.
The majority of your meals through the day should include complex carbohydrates which also tend to be higher in fibre.
Complex carb foods |
Wholegrain foods, oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread and also pasta.
Simple ‘fasting acting’ carbs
Fast acting carbohydrates are also known as simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are usually the type of carb that most people are familiar with, as they are slower digesting thus releasing energy into the body more slowly. While most of us know these are fantastic for our health and well being, simple carbohydrates also play a role and have several benefits too, especially if you utilise them at the best times to be of use to your body, for example pre-and post work out.
✓ The reason that this type of carbohydrate is called simple is due to the fast speed at which it can be digested and absorbed by the body.
Simple carbohydrate foods |
Many people think the only foods that contain simple carbohydrates are highly processed junk foods such as chocolate bars and sweets – but this is not the case at all.
Nutrient dense foods such as fruit, milk and processed foods such as sweets and syrups contain simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include monosaccharides which is a one unit sugar such as fructose, and disaccharides, which are a two unit sugars such as lactose or sucrose.
✓ Many heavily processed simple carbohydrates carry little nutritional value, this does not mean that they cannot have a place in your nutritional strategy, simply that it should be in moderation.
Benefits of simple carbs for
pre- and post-workout
Simple carbohydrates can give you an edge pre-training due to their fast release of energy. Simple carbs are great if you are doing a workout that requires a short burst of energy. If you are doing a shorter race, or a sprint session, even lifting some weights, by digesting some simple carbs before your workout you can reap the performance benefits of simple carbs.
✓ Pre-workout meals that include simple carbs would be: chopped banana with honey, rice cakes and jam and a glass of milk.
After a tough training session, the name of the game is replenishment and recovery. This is really crucial if you will be training again later in the day. Due to the nature of simple carbs and the ability of the body to digest them so quickly, they are a fantastic food to promote recovery.
✓ Simple carbs will bring your glycogen and blood sugar levels back to baseline more effectively than complex carbs alone.
#3 Easy digestion
This one especially applies to pre-workout, but of course is relevant post-workout too.
✓ As mentioned above, the ability for the body to digest this form of carbohydrate rapidly means it not only can provide a burst of energy rapidly, it has the ability to kick-start the recovery process too.
Take home message
Including some fast-digesting carbs before your workout can be helpful to give you an energy boost. The main benefits of simple carbs are for those who train at a high intensity rather than people who are mainly sedentary or not training at a high intensity.
Try having some fruit with honey and rice cakes before your next session and see for yourself how simple carbohydrates can help you fuel a good workout.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.