One of the most common thoughts about being ‘healthy’ is that you should cut carbs or go on a low carb diet to lose weight. Now although that may be the right plan of action for some, it is not the answer for all. To elaborate, let’s look at the benefits of carbohydrates and why they can be necessary, although not an essential macro nutrient it is very beneficial and highly effective in helping the human body function optimally.
There are three main nutrients that we get from foods. These are known as Macro-nutrients and can be identified as Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein. For a human to simply survive the body does need two essential nutrients; Proteins and Fats. Carbohydrates are not necessarily classed as essential to survive, but very much so to thrive!
Here are some sources of carbohydrates:
- Vegetables: starchy and non-starchy
Choosing good quality carbohydrates is really important if you are someone who is really looking to build lean muscle and create a healthy lifestyle whilst ensuring you have energy that lasts.
There are three main sugars that are carbohydrates:
- Glucose – the sugar within your blood that the body uses for energy. When it is in your bloodstream it is called blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels. Insulin is the hormone that moves it from your blood to your cells.
- Fructose – Sugar that come from fruits
- Sucrose – refined sugars, found in plants and then refined into sugar (table sugar).
These three sugars and starchy carbohydrates are the body’s first point of call for energy as they are readily available and easy to convert. If you are not consuming these sugars or carbohydrates, you can be left feeling tired, lethargic and generally have a bit of ‘brain fog’. Whenever you do not give your body enough carbohydrates your body will be tapping into harder to access energy sources such as fats and protein making it harder for you to stabilize your energy and thrive beyond general living stages.
If you are someone who wants to lose weight and keep it off then carbs should not be avoided. Rather consumed in proportion to your energy needs and output. Getting this amount correct provides you with the easily accessible energy source for your workouts allowing you to maintain a strong and healthy routine. We want to fuel your body, so that you can have bigger and better workouts so that you can gain and retain muscles that you are using and breaking down each session. Then by continuing to refuel our muscles we can build more muscle mass. If consumed in appropriate amounts with the right training plan, we build lean muscle. Having a higher content of muscle mass is going to continue to help burn fat and energy as you will be expending more energy in daily life and workouts.
Benefits of carbohydrates:
Source of energy. It is the first macro-nutrient the body or brain will look for when needing an energy boost.
High quality carbs generally equals higher fibre. Our bodies need around 25-30g of fibre per day to help keep us digest the foods and remain frequent, keeping the body working how it should. It keeps us feel full and promotes good gut health.
Protein sparing – helps prevent ketosis. Which is a state your body goes into when low on carbohydrates.
Source of vitamins and minerals. Quality carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are also super high in micronutrients, which are your vitamins and minerals essential for the bodily systems to thrive. If you think of it this way, Macronutrients being carbs, fats and proteins: ensure we survive. Micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals: help us to thrive.
Wrap up :
If your goal is to gain lean muscle then you will benefit from increasing your carbohydrate intake to fuel your workouts. This will put you into a calorie surplus, therefore consuming a little bit more than your body needs to survive. This combination will help create the desired result.
Carbohydrate tolerance – People who are physically active and have more muscle mass will be able to tolerate a higher amount of carbohydrates. The body will be able to metabolize carbohydrates well and put them to good use.
Your own goals and body composition determine your individual needs. This is why everybody’s own specific nutritional needs will be different depending on the individual’s gender, age, food tolerances, goal and workout program. So just remember – Cutting carbs is not always the best option to meet your individual needs or goals.