What carbs to eat after workout, to loose fat and maintain muscle? Many say NONE. Many advice to cut out carbs ALL TOGETHER or at least to a minimum.
Not only are cutting out carbs is unnecessary, and it’s not recommended by most nutrition and fitness professionals. If you cut out carbs but are working out intensely, you may experience a host of negative side effects such as “exercise flu,” limited performance, and muscle loss through gluconeogenesis.
It’s true that different types of carbs affect the body differently, but if you’re not an elite athlete, you don’t need to worry too much.
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There’s no such thing as ‘bad’ carbs
When we eat carbs, our bodies break them down into glucose. This is our main energy source, fueling the brain, heart, liver, and muscles, Dr. Nestoras Mathioudakis, a diabetes expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
It’s a common myth that refined carbohydrates like white rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes are “bad.” While it’s true that their wholegrain/brown alternatives contain more fiber, neither is better or worse than the other, they’re just different.
“Whole-grain foods include all components of a grain (the bran, germ, and endosperm). Alternatively, ‘white’ carbohydrates don’t contain the bran and germ (only the endosperm),” she said.
“The bran and germ are usually put on a pedestal due to the fact that they are a source of fiber, B vitamins, and other minerals, whereas the endosperm is more recognized as a source of carbohydrate and protein.”
The increased fiber content of the likes of sweet potatoes and brown rice simply means those carbs release energy more slowly, which results in a smaller spike in blood sugar.
Eating carbs, particularly lower fiber ones, before a workout gives your body energy to perform. Foods that are easily broken down, commonly called ‘quick carbs,’ are often best.
I definitely notice the difference in my energy levels during workouts if I’ve eaten some sort of carb an hour or two before training, whether that’s a bowl of oatmeal or a slice of banana bread.
After working out, your body needs carbs and protein to recover and replenish glycogen stores in the muscles.
Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine recommends higher-fiber carbs like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, and mixed grains.
Don’t stress over your carb types and timing
As someone who works out three to four days a week, at an average intensity, you don’t need to stress too much about which carbs you eat and when, according to registered dietitian Priya Tew.
Aim to eat something within an hour or two of working out, ideally your usual meal or snack. This is what I do.
“Fast-acting carbs can be used before exercise to help give your body glucose if you have not eaten recently, but these are not needed straight after a normal workout,” Tew said.
Calories and protein matter most
For body recomposition, three things matter most: Being in a gentle calorie deficit (taking in less energy than you’re burning), resistance training, and consuming enough protein.
I cut my body fat percentage almost in half four years ago and have maintained my physique since, so I know firsthand that nailing these basics works.
Don’t stress too much about the carbs you’re eating and when, just make sure you’re eating the right amount overall. And be patient, because body recomposition takes time.
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