Carbohydrates. Potatoes, White Rice, Pasta, Bread.
An essential deliciousness, that is an everyday staple for the majority of a population.
Carbs fuel the body, are natural and taste amazing. If you’re into training and looking after your bod, then you’ll be more familiar with the likes of slow release carbs like sweet potatoes , brown rice or purple rice and various grains- maybe that ol’ ‘kee-no-wa’ (quinoa ) that nobody actually knows how to cook.
Carbs are an awesome and essential resource for your body after training.
Here’s the sitch: You do a hardcore HIIT session and feel like a machine, pumped, iron legs, dripping with a satisfied sweat.
Then, because you’re restricting your diet to no carbs and more fat, you make an over buttery omelette that tastes bleurgh, feel satisfied that you’ve had your protein and energy hit ( from the fat) , but wonder why you’re feeling a bit ‘off’ later in the day.
This is what has happened: Your muscles love you for the protein, but hell, they are not thanking you for the lack of glucose essential for boosting your tired bod. So now it’s decided to throw a strop and slow down in an attempt to reserve energy.
Not great when you have another 5 hours at work.
We’re not even talking about carbs on a ‘stuffing your face with pasta salad’ level, we’re talking friendly, low GI carbs that slowly feed your body with a much-needed boost of energy.
Unfortunately, due to the Keto, Low carb type diets, we have developed a minority of potato dodgers who freak out when they come into contact with a grain of rice. Yes, I am talking about this on a personal level. I used to have a breakdown if ate more than half a banana in case it took me out of ketosis. Ii thought I ate loads of carbs when I had 150 g of rice once a week. This could be you people.
I was part of the high protein high fat crew, which works amazing for some, but what these advocates of low carb forget to mention is that not one diet fits all.
I had no energy and felt fatigued, constantly injured, nauseated and grumpy AF. People knew that I was lacking in carbs if I suddenly became irritable on an evening, or snapped when the bloody ice machine wouldn’t work.
No carbs make you miserable.
However, you learn how your body works, and over the years, I have adapted to carb back loading around workouts, which basically means eating your carbs on a night time (not necessarily in large amounts). This works for me, and not eating carbs in the day when my body might store them as fat and instead on an evening when it will be stored in the muscles as glycogen is now a habit.In all honesty, I just love it, because I know I get a big bowl of sweet potato or sticky brown rice after a hard training session on a night.
Tangents aside, I am going to tell you all the reasons why carbs are your friends and why, if you train regularly you should eat them like the carb monster you truly are.
They Keep You Full
Satiety. This is the feeling of a satisfied full. Not too full, not still hungry, just right.
That’s what I recommend aiming for at meal times. On a low carb diet, you can slip into the habit of being constantly ‘too full’. An hour or so later, when your blood sugar drops, due to the lack of carbs, you are starving again. This leads to overeating and feelings of guilt. Imagine if you just ate a small portion of dripping in butter sweet potato, or a salty hot bowl of soy sauce smothered brown rice and egg.
You will feel comfortably full, and have no need to nibble before bed.
They Fuel Your Next Workout
Think of carbs as your fuel for that insane workout you want to smash tomorrow before work.
Here are two different scenarios, so you can compare:
Life with no carbs:You can’t wake up, press snooze multiple times and roll up to the gym with only half an hour to spare. Instead of attempting a hardcore sesh, throwing weights around, you opt for an easy half an hour run. The result, you’re starving, but don’t have time for a decent breakfast. You have burnt a few calories, not built any muscle or strength and you may as well have stayed in your cushy abode.
Life with carbs: Alarm goes off just as you’re putting on your trainers. You actually run to the gym ‘cos you got time to burn. Those pull-ups you couldn’t complete all week? Well, how about three sets done. BOOM. Sprint home, shower, banana protein shake with honey and a fried egg consumed. All before work. You are amazing.
See where I’m going…?
They Boost Your Serotonin And Dopamine Levels Aka Stop You Being A Bitch
Seratonin and Dopamine are brain chemicals that make you happy. Serotonin keeps you calm, relaxed and promotes an overall feeling of well-being.Serotonin helps you sleep peacefully and more easily, ahhhhh.
Dopamine is its partner in crime. Not only does it boost motivation and drive, but it plays a part in feelings of pleasure and is our natural anti-anxiety pill.
If your body is lacking in carbs, then this dream team are lacking too.
The low down is; when you consume carbs, your body releases insulin, which causes a process that ultimately wakes up and boosts your serotonin directly. Pair that with a bit of protein and your on the path to triggering good ‘ol dopamine too.
Good vibes all round ay?
Keep Blood Sugar Stable And Maintain Your Weight
Those who fear carbs ( yes i can see you there, hiding in the meat aisle) are seriously missing out on a secret. Yes, carbs will help you lose and maintain weight.
Why? Well when you don’t eat carbs you end up weak (as discussed above) grouchy and have crazy bloody sugar spikes when you do eat a bit of carbs, your body clings on to any fat in an attempt to survive, instead of repairing and building muscle.
How does having consistently balanced blood sugar (and hormone) levels sound?
When your energy is stable, you don’t have ridiculous dips during the day and your body really utilises what you’re putting into it, to repair and improve itself. Do you want to feel like superwoman? Then you know what ya gotta do!
Choose sweet potatoes and happiness.
Try this comforting dish after a hard HIIT session:
1 Large Sweet Potato
½ tbsp Non-Salted Butter
1 tbsp Chopped Chives
Salt & Pepper
Chop Sweet Potato into cubes and boil in slightly salted water for 20 minutes, or until soft and you can put a knife easily through them.
Drain in a colander. Melt the butter and chives in the pan. Add the sweet potatoes and smother in the butter with a bit of salt and pepper for a minute or so.You can even pan fry them for extra crispiness like the above!
Serve with even more butter or alongside a big chunk of meat or fish.
NOM NOM NOM.