All the energy we need to function properly comes from our nutrition. The food we eat gets broken down into glucose which provides us with the energy to keep going throughout the day.
Ever since low-carb diets have invaded the hall of fame, carbohydrates have been considered a diet enemy by some people. But here’s the truth: We need carbohydrates in our diet, and if we treat them as enemies, they’ll leave our bodies depleted and out of fuel.
In this article, we’re going to dig deeper into the role of carbohydrates in your body and how they support any workout. Let’s learn more about it here.
How Healthy Carbohydrates Support Workouts
There are two main types of carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are considered an essential source of energy for your body.
Aside from providing the energy needed to sustain your daily activities, these carbohydrates will also power you up to endure different types of workouts. If you want to feed yourself with these complex carbohydrates, you can find them in nuts, legumes, grains, seeds, and minerals.
Once eaten, carbohydrates get broken down into smaller sugars such as glucose, galactose, and fructose. These sugars are responsible for accomplishing immediate tasks. When these sugars aren’t used, they will be stored in the body as glycogen.
Glycogen is needed for exercising at higher levels. Low to moderate exercises only require fat as fuel, but more intense workouts necessarily don’t.
What Kind of Carbs Should You Be Eating And In What Amount?
Complex carbs are your best choice for sustained energy two to three hours before your workout. They’re also an excellent option for the post-workout recharge, but you can combine them with simple carbohydrates for a quick fix.
You need to consider what type of workout you’ll perform and match it up with your glycogen storage in the body. If we compare the human body to a vehicle, this glycogen will serve as fuel for the car to start and reach its destination. Once it has run out of fuel, it’ll start to stop and feel the depleted energy. The scenario works the same in human bodies too.
The amount of healthy carbs you should eat depends on many factors. These factors include your age, how much you workout, what your lifestyle is, and if you have any dietary restrictions.
You’ll need about 130 grams of carbohydrates every single day for your brain to function. For active women, daily carbohydrate intake should be at least 200 to 300 grams on a standard diet.
If you have an upcoming endurance event or intense workout that involves a lot of endurance tests, you may need to up your carbohydrate intake by 100 grams a day, starting three days prior to the event. Intense workouts require more glycogen for you to sustain them.
7 Healthy Carbohydrates to Fuel Your Workouts
Not all carbs are created equal. There are processed foods that are high in sugar that are very fattening. It’s important for you to know foods that will provide you with healthy carbohydrates needed to sustain your workouts.
Here’s a list of seven healthy carbohydrates to fuel your workouts.
Do you know the healthiest whole grain in the world? Well, it’s probably oats. Oats contain about 66% of carbs and are rich in prebiotic fiber. This prebiotic fiber will help fuel your body’s probiotics in the GI tract. The same fiber is also responsible for the digestion needed to get all the nutrients from your carbs. If you’re aiming to lose weight healthily, you can rely on oats to do their trick.
Quinoa is another grain rich in fibers, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It’s also known for its higher Vitamin B components. Unlike corn, rice, barley, and rye, quinoa has the highest source of Vitamin B. Cooked quinoa contains 21.3% carbs, and it doesn’t contain any gluten. Quinoa is perfect as a pre-workout snack.
Bananas aren’t only for monkeys – they’re great before and after workouts because they help lower your blood pressure and improve your heart’s health. They’re made up of about 23% of carbs in the forms of sugars and starches. Plus they contain good amounts of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Potatoes aren’t only delicious, but they’re also packed with nutrients. They contain about four grams of plant-based protein, and 25% of potassium needed for you to endure a single day. One serving of potato can provide you just the right amount of energy needed to endure one workout session.
Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. They contain 27.4% of carbs and 8% of fiber. Aside from being a good source of healthy carbohydrates, chickpeas also contain vitamins, minerals, phosphorus, and iron. They’re also excellent in promoting weight loss because of the dietary benefits they provide.
6. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans contain 22.8% carbs in the form of starches and fiber. They’re also high in protein. They’re considered healthy carbs because aside from all these health benefits they provide, they also serve as antioxidants. However, you should take proper caution in cooking them. Eating them raw can be toxic.
Contrary to its name, buckwheat doesn’t contain gluten and isn’t in any way related to wheat. However, buckwheat is highly nutritious. Raw buckwheat contains about 71.5% carbs and is known to help control blood sugar and maintain heart health. You can enjoy this high-carb food before or after a heavy workout.
Other Effective Ways to Support Your Workouts
Find a friend – Finding a friend to work on your fitness goals isn’t new. When you feel like your inner demons are starting to command you to sleep in instead of hitting your treadmill, then it’s time to find a friend who can lead you in the right direction.
Try other weight loss alternatives – Never stick to a familiar routine. Trying other strategies also help, especially with overcoming a fitness plateau. Red light therapy is one of the safest, non-invasive methods that support weight loss in several ways.
Embrace small wins – Little progress is still progress, which is why you should always celebrate your victories. Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight.
Make working out more fun – If you find yourself losing motivation, change things up by inviting a friend over, listening to a killer playlist, or rewarding yourself!
Supporting your workouts doesn’t only require you to eat the right amount of healthy carbohydrates. Try weight loss supplements or an alternative method for weight loss. Most importantly, have a peaceful mind and heart.
The role of healthy carbs in supporting workouts impacts a lot of gym-goers and athletes in many ways. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates aren’t the enemy – the key is to make the right choice. While low-carb diets are backed by science, they’re not for everyone, especially people with certain medical conditions.
One effective way of sustaining energy throughout your workout is by maximizing glycogen storage and carbohydrates to give you the perfect glycogen build up.
If your goal is to endure a cardiovascular workout, you’ll need more glycogen. Meanwhile, strength training and resistance training won’t require you a lot of glycogen to store.
Supporting your workout through healthy carbs might be very useful, but remember, it’s not the only way to keep you going. There are other ways to keep you on your toes in achieving your desired fitness goals. Give them a try and see which one works best for you.
About the Author
Tiffany is a Registered Nurse, Health and Wellness Writer, and Co-Founder of Ketogenic Buddies – a friendly keto diet resource for all levels. She has made it her mission to spread the word about the low-carb lifestyle and help others who are on the same journey.