Carbohydrates aren’t as bad as what they’re made out to be. Over recent years, carbohydrates have been seen as the culprit to excessive fat storage, but is excessive fat really due to carbohydrate intake? If it is, is it best to cut carbs altogether? In this article we expose the truth on carbohydrates and how to use carbohydrates to burn fat.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are all made up of sugar molecules. Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient, meaning that they must be ingested through food as the body cannot produce it by itself. When these sugar molecules are digested, enzymes break them down into a single molecule or sugar known as a monosaccharide.
Monosaccharides are the only form of sugar that can enter your bloodstream and subsequently into your cells, which convert them into energy.
Carbohydrates are an integral part to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and is your body’s preferred energy source to fuel any form of physical activity. If carbohydrate intake is too low for a prolonged period of time, you increase the risk of losing muscle, which in turn will diminish metabolic rate and increase the likelihood of storing fat.
There are two main types of carbohydrates, simple and complex.
Simple Carbohydrates – Also known as sugar. Contains one or two sugar molecules. Quick source of energy and is rapidly digested. Sources include: sugar, fruit and most forms of junk food. e.g lollies, cake, ice cream etc.
Complex Carbohydrates – Fibre and starch. Contains many and sometimes up to thousands of sugar molecules.
A gradual release of energy and is slowly digested. Keeps you fuller for longer. Sources include: legumes, bread, rice, pasta, mostly green vegetables and vegetables such as sweet potato, spinach, cucumbers etc, as well as some fruits, such as, apples, grapefruit and strawberries to name a few.
Carbohydrates and Fat
Carbohydrates are converted into glycogen before being stored into muscle for energy.
Excessive carbohydrate consumption, fills glycogen stores in muscle, and when there is no room left for glycogen storage, the remainder is stored as fatty tissue.
The key is to be mindful of carbohydrate consumption and to use them to your advantage. Earn your carbs!
How to Use Carbohydrates to Burn Fat
Carbohydrates are best consumed 45 to 60 mins post training to replenish depleted glycogen stores in muscle after an intense workout. The 45 – 60 min window allows the body to utilise fat as an energy source before the replenishment of glycogen to assist in recovery and the development of new lean muscle.
New lean muscle equals a higher metabolic rate, leading to improved fat metabolism in the long run. Although it is best to consume carbohydrates post workout, simple carbs can also be used for a quick spurt of energy pre workout to provide fuel for an intense training session. Increased energy allows for higher intensity during training.
- Complex carbohydrates are better than simple carbohydrates for satiety and limiting caloric intake
- Carbohydrates are essential to building new lean muscle and improving metabolic rate
- Ingest complex carbohydrates post workout 45-60 mins after training
- Earn your carbs and use them wisely!