Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy; yet most fitness enthusiasts shy away from them. If you are following a “diet” you are most likely reducing your intake of rice. Even young athletes are resorting to low carb diets in order to get “ripped” or make weight for their competition. Low carbs are the “in thing”. So, if you are a true blood Axomiya or a north easterner for that matter it might be bad news, as people from this region love their rice. So are carbs really evil? Can one lose weight or follow a healthy lifestyle while eating their carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates can be broadly divided into simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed in the blood stream, whereas complex carbohydrates need to be broken down before they can be utilized by the body. Both the forms of carbohydrates are critical for athletic success. Simple and fast digesting carbohydrates should form the basis of any post workout or post training meal. The body stores carbohydrates in the muscles and liver as glycogen. During intense training the body uses this stored glycogen for energy. Research indicates that glycogen stored in the muscles that are worked are used first for energy. So if you want to train hard and train to your full potential you need adequate glycogen in the muscles. Let’s say you want to pump up your biceps; then you need adequate stores of glycogen in the biceps so that you can train hard and with full intensity. The body replenishes the lost glycogen from the nutrition you provide it with. So it might be prudent to restock glycogen stores with carbohydrates after your workout. Carbohydrates also have a muscle sparing effect. To put it simply if you want to keep your hard earned muscles and grow some more, don’t forget your carbs. Rice is a perfect post workout carbohydrate; in fact white rice would be better post workout. At other times of the day, you are better off selecting brown rice; red rice, a nutrient rich variety found in Assam, is also a good source of carbohydrate. An added advantage of rice is that it is naturally gluten free.
Whole wheat is good complex carbohydrate; whole wheat chapattis and pasta are excellent sources of carbohydrates. Oats have become quite popular especially among doctors and fitness trainers; it seems to be the most recommended form of carbohydrate. Oats is a quality source of carbohydrate and can form an integral part of any healthy eating plan.
However the most ignored and often neglected source of carbohydrates are vegetables. Low in calories, rich in fibre and nutrients vegetables should form a major part of any diet. Vegetables can be stewed, grilled, baked or stir fried except deep fried. So if you are counting on French fries, it’s a no-go! Coming to French fries, potatoes are a staple in most parts of the world. They have a high starch content and glycemic index. So potatoes are best had immediately post workout. Sweet potato is a good complex carbohydrate which can be had at any time of the day. Fruits are also good sources of carbohydrates; bananas are handy and perfect to use around training sessions.
When we talk about the usefulness and necessity of carbohydrates the most important thing to consider is the type and portion sizes. If you have simple carbohydrate around your training and stick to complex carbohydrates during other times of the day, you should be doing fine. Also portion sizes are critical; you need to find your optimum serving size depending on your age, fitness goal and body type. Carbs are an asset to any athlete; the only factor to consider is to select the right ones and not overdo it.
(The writer is the founder/CEO of Transformers Fitness Academy. You can follow him on Instagram http://www.instagram.com/angshuman.fitness
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