Very simply put food is the fuel needed for the human body to keep your body functioning well, in health, to support your daily activity levels and ensuring your organs get all the nutrients they need to keep you healthy. When your body becomes depleted in any of the important nutrients, you will start not feeling well and it can lead to health conditions and diseases.
Carbohydrates are one of the so-called macronutrients the body needs to survive and unless you already have medical condition that require you to keep your carb intake low, you should be aiming for balance, anywhere between 30-45% according to recommendations.
However, there are some studies that suggest that a low-carb diet might be beneficial for weight loss for obese people with metabolic risks. In a way, women in pregnancy, in pre-menopause or post-menopause can be trapped by their hormones and at high risk of their metabolism getting out of whack.
This doesn't mean you should cut all carbs, however learning more about them, what they do for your body and which ones to choose for optimum health and fitness becomes more important. Here are 3 reasons why they are still essential for your diet.
1. Carbs Provide Energy
Both your brain and your body derive energy from the carbohydrates you consume. It’s your main source of energy. Once the carbs you consume have been broken down, they become what we call glucose. The glucose can then be stored by your body and used later as fuel when the time is right.
It’s a very intricate system, and it’s important not to deprive your body of that energy it so badly needs. They will delay feelings of fatigue when you’re active. Heavy carbs however can also make you feel sluggish (do you get sleepy soon after lunch?), so timing your heavier carbohydrates to dinner might be a good idea to regulate your energy levels and keep your hormones in check.
2. They Aid Muscle Gain
Before you say "I don't want to look masculine" you should understand that for a woman it take so much more than eating carbs to look very manly. However, if your aim is to burn fat more efficiently and look leaner, you should also aim to gain lean muscles.
When you don’t have the glucose stores in your body that come from consuming carbs, your body will look to other sources of energy. The next easier way for your body to get glucose is to use the ones stored in your muscles.
Clearly, you don’t want that muscle protein to be wasted because that’s the stuff that will help you to build lean muscles. It’s used whenever your muscles are repairing and rebuilding after a vigorous workout.
3. Your Performance Will Improve
Perhaps the most important thing of all is that your overall performance will improve if you have the right amount of carbs in your diet each day. This includes having more energy for your everyday activities, workouts and more. Glycogen is used up whenever we’re active. This means the more active you are the more carbs you will need in your diet. Similarly, when yo are less active, you can live on less carbs.
Before you get active and after you get active are essential times for you to consume carbs, so don’t miss the opportunity to do so. Sometimes it's necessary to replenish carbs during long lasting endurance type activity, anything longer than 90 minutes, like a long cycling ride or running event.
Good Sources of Carbohydrates
Now you understand exactly why carbohydrates are so important for your body and why you should find a way to include them in you diet. Not all carbs are created equal though, and it’s important to consume the right types of carbs for optimum effect.
You should always aim for a good balance between simple and complex carbs. Here's a list of examples: whole grains like whole wheat pasta, bread, quinoa, oats, potato, sweet potato, courgette, carrot, squash, all types of green veg and fruits, yoghurt, dairy and nut milks.
Try to minimise your added refined sugar intake by cutting back on pastry, sweets, treats and any processed food like biscuits or ready meals.
If you have further questions on how to manage your carbohydrate intake for weight loss, feel free to message me.
Owner and creator of One Small Step, Joe has been in the health and fitness industry for 8 years and takes an all-round approach to his coaching.