Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates: Not Such a Bad Thing

The C word of the modern fitness world, CARBS! Carbohydrates provide the essential energy to your muscle and brain function. It is a common misconception that carbohydrates, which are our primary source for calories, have an adverse effect when it comes to physical fitness. The pure and simple truth is, without carbs you cannot perform.

45-65% of your daily-recommended intake of calories should come from carbohydrates

Quick Facts

Function Provide essential energy to your muscle and brain function
Daily Intake 45-65% of total calories
Cal/g 4 Cal/g
Major Sources Whole grains, legumes, pasta, dairy

So what happens if you have not consumed enough carbohydrates?

If your body is working at low intensity (endurance training for example) your body with rely on fat for your source of calories. If however you are performing at high intensity levels with insufficient carbohydrates (sprinting or heavy weight lifting for example) your body will begin relying on your protein for your source of calories. This is a bad thing. While protein is meant for the repair and strengthening of your muscles, which you are actively working to build, you are now incurring a protein deficit. This will result in slow or no muscle growth. In some cases, you may see negative effects such as muscle loss.

When consumed, a carbohydrate is broken down into glucose, the universal source for energy, which is then broken apart during cellular respiration. Once this process is complete, it forms Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the biochemical means your body stores and uses energy. How much energy comes from a food source, depends on how many calories are contained within that food.

There are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbohydrate (4 cal/g)

Depending on how much ATP your body has stored up, will dictate the efficiency and success of your workout.  Therefore, the fewer carbs you have consumed, the less efficient your body will be.

Where to get your carbs

There are two major denominations of carbohydrates: Simple and Complex. Of the 45-65% of your daily caloric intake from carbohydrates, no more than 25% of that amount should be simple carbohydrates.

The reason for that is simple carbohydrates are broken down much more efficiently than complex due to their molecular structure. Simple carbohydrates have shorter, thus weaker carbon bonds. When calories from any source (carbs in this case) are not used, they are then stored as fat for later use.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand take much longer and thus give the body more time to work off the stored energy. In addition, complex carbohydrates are an excellent source of fibre.

The required intake of fibre for men is 38 g and is 25 g for women or 14 g for every 1000 calories ingested.

Sources of carbohydrates

Simple

Complex

  • Jam
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Soda
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Bread (whole grains)
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Cereal

The average Canadian consumes 100 litres of pop per year. 1 can of regular cola contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, 100 litres amounts to 11, 320 grams of sugar each year.

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