Carbohydrates have started to be demonised like fats use to be, but they are really important for our bodies to work properly, your brain uses carbohydrates for energy and so do your red blood cells and many more functions in the human body. It is also the bodies preferred source of energy and fats can not be converted into energy without carbohydrates! They should not be demonised as they are very important!
WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES?
Did you know that fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates, I think a lot of people do not realise this, well they are. Other sources are starchy carbs like bread, pasta, rice, oats, crisps etc, Sugary carbs like sweets, chocolate, cakes, honey, fruit, sugary drinks, etc. And all these things can have a place in your diet if eaten at the right time, here is an example, a coke is great during a long bike ride when your energy reserves are low because sugar absorbs quickly for energy, even a chocolate bar or cake works the same too. Starchy carbs are ok as well as long as you don’t get any GI stress from them (bloating etc) as that is causing inflammation and we don’t want more of that going on in our bodies, so foods that cause any adverse effect should be avoided. The key to all of this is portion size and moderation. Not having too big portions and eating too much of the same all the time, a BALANCED diet is key and making sure your plate has protein, carbs & good fats (as discussed last week) on it. Think a wide range of coloured vegetables to be your go to sources but there is nothing wrong with the other sources listed above in moderation. If you start trying to ban foods, you will just crave them more!! Don’t ban them and if you are eating enough protein, you probably won’t crave them.
CARBOHYDRATES AND EXERCISE
Everyone focuses on the actual training part of training, which is great, however you are not getting fitter, stronger and faster during those sessions, that’s the damage phase, when you are breaking your body down and the harder and longer you work, the more you’re breaking your body down. You get fitter, faster and stronger after those sessions during the adaptation phase. That’s when you body is saying I need to strengthen the muscles, so I am ready when she wants to do that again!! Now how you eat around these sessions directly impacts how you recover and how you adapt. As a woman and especially menopausal woman you do not want to go into your workouts under-fuelled. Doing that creates more stress and undermines your exercise progress. You want the nutrients onboard, so you are not increasing your stress or eating into your muscle stores. Pre workout snacks don’t have to be a lot, you just want something that contains protein and carbohydrate (banana & peanut butter or wholegrain toast & nut butter etc). Then what you eat afterwards is especially important because of our 30min recovery window, which is the time your body is most receptive to restoring your glycogen stores and repairing the muscle damage done so stronger. Remember, I talked about this last week, how we finish workouts with high levels of cortisol hormone. So, we need to get out of that state asap. If you skip this part your body ends up in a highly stressed state, with high blood sugar and is more prone to storing body fat and slow down metabolism. Proper recovery nutrition prevents you from getting into a low energy availability and supports gut microbiome health because the gut takes a beating during hard exercise so providing good nutrition when you’re done so blood is moving from your muscles back into your gut (to digest the food) can help your gut heal and maintain good bacterial diversity.
So, please do not be scared of carbohydrates, they are not bad for you, they give us energy! Just think portion size, food combinations, variation and balance!