All about carbs
From bagels and breads to cookies and candies, carbohydrates are everywhere. And if your goal is to lose weight and transform your body, you may think you need to take an "all carbs are bad" approach. Many people do—and many of them end up feeling awful, suffering through subpar workouts, and riding the same old diet rollercoaster.
To be clear, low-carb can work. But right now, when you're crushing your Transformed workouts and trying to build strength and muscle, isn't the time to make that kind of drastic change. Instead, consider just being more mindful of what kinds of carbs you eat, when.
A Carb is Not a Carb
You probably know that there are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are usually those that are darker, or browner in color—think brown rice versus white rice. On a molecular level, they are larger, or more complex, structures.
This is important to know because these bigger structures take longer to digest, which means that after eating, you will feel fuller for longer. Additionally, complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber, which not only provides numerous health benefits, but also helps to promote fullness and long-lasting energy by slowing down digestion.
Examples of complex carbohydrates include oatmeal, whole-grain bread/tortillas/bagels, brown rice, quinoa, popcorn, and most fruit and vegetables.
Simple carbohydrates—also known as refined carbohydrates, or sugar—are generally lighter, or paler in color (but not always). These tiny structures digest rapidly, providing your brain and muscles with a quick burst of energy.
Simple carbohydrates certainly won't keep you feeling full for long, but when consumed right before or during training, they may provide that boost of energy you need to finish strong. They also help to replenish your fuel (carbohydrate) stores immediately post-workout, and many experts believe these carbs help to shuttle nutrients into muscle tissue.
Examples of simple carbohydrates include white bread/tortillas/bagels/rice, dextrose, pretzels, sports drinks, cookies, and candies.
Stick to primarily complex carbohydrates most of the time, but especially at breakfast, lunch, or during that common early-afternoon energy dip.
A breakfast consisting of orange juice and a plain white bagel will leave you feeling hungry an hour later. This could set you up for a downward spiral of off-track eating for the remainder of the day. Instead, oatmeal and a veggie-filled omelet would be a better way to start the day.
The same problematic situation arises when you indulge in a white-bread sandwich or midafternoon sports drink. The simple switch to a whole-grain bread or wrap could make all the difference in having a productive afternoon.
You'd be OK sticking almost entirely to complex carbohydrates for the remainder of this training plan. But if you are going to indulge your sweet tooth, do it immediately before—or even better, after—a hard training session. This is the one time they can help do some good work for your physique! We'll dig more into the details of pre- and post-workout nutrition on Day 30.
* Ratings as of article's date of publication