For a while, carbs were enemy number one but the tides have shifted and the fitness world has embraced carbs for all they do to promote muscle growth, fat loss and performance.
But which are the best? You may be gnoshing on fruit to get your carbs and although fruit is great and essential to your diet, according to James Barnum at Eat To Perform
, it is not the most practical source of fuel for your body. He says, "you’d have to eat a lot (and I mean a lot) of fruit to satisfy your carbohydrate/calorie requirements; it’s just not optimal (or in some cases, feasible) to rely upon fruit as an energy source." Luckily, there are lots of other carbohydrates loaded with glucose (and nutrients) that are much more effective.
Forget what you've heard, startches can be your friend! Starch is a glucose polymer that occurs in plants and is similar to our endogenous glycogen. Basically, starch is a long chain of glucose molecules. Eaten raw, humans have a difficult time processing it but cooking it breaks it down into pure glucose which can be used for energy at the cellular level.
The most widely consumed sources of glucose include grains, like corn, wheat and rye but don't forget tubers -- like potatoes and carrots, and white rice. Other great sources you may not have thought of include chestnuts and acorns!
Include squash, peppers, zucchini and cauliflower and you've got a wide variety of flavours to choose from. It is up to you to decide if you'd rather have sweet potato over white potato or brown rice over white but remember that the fiber content in potato skins and brown rice can slow down your digestion, and therefore your rate of absorption. This isn't something that will impact most people but if you train twice a day, for example, and are looking for a quick glucose uptake to replenish muscle glycogen, this may be an issue.
If these dietary sources aren't quite enough for you and you want to take things further, you can look into supplementation.
Whole, natural foods should be the bulk of your nutrition but, as Barnum says, there are a few instances where supplementation can bring your performance to the next level.
It is important to ensure you have adequate energy available before and after a workout. Barnum says, "by prioritizing carbohydrate intake around your workouts with liquid nutrition, you can make a dramatic impact on your energy levels and recovery if it’s formulated properly."
Barnum recommends making your own liquid drink. He says, "throw a potato into a food processor along with some light coconut milk, and [you] wind up with one of the most interesting-yet-effective workout drinks known to man. Alternatively, a mottled banana with some dark chocolate in a coconut milk base may be slightly more appetizing (and socially acceptable!). Add a teaspoon of sea salt to either of these concoctions and you’ve got the perfect storm in terms of quick gastric emptying and nutrient absorption at the small intestine."
If you really can't handle pureed foods, you can purchase a commercial supplement. Barnum suggests you "go with modified starches like Vitargo, maltodextrin, dextrose and waxy maize; not only are they typically very affordable (especially if you buy in bulk), but they’ll blend right in with your favourite protein powder and provide you with exactly what you need to begin restoring glycogen within your muscles as soon as possible."
Remember, the bulk of your carbs should come from starches and vegetables like potatoes, squash, quinoa and rice with fruit being used to supplement your micronutrients and round out your carb intake.
What is your favourite source of carbohydrates? Did it make the list? Share with us!
Source: Eat To Perform
Have You Taken The BodyRock 7-Day Clean Eating Challenge?
We’ve put together a 7 Day Guide that helps you to buy the right foods and prepare the meals that are going to help you eat well and create healthy habits in your lifestyle.
Learn More about the Clean Eating Challenge