What Are Carbohydrates & The Benefits Of Consuming Them

Probably the best way to understand what carbohydrates are is to see them as sugars, starches and fibers that are found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products.

Even though they are often maligned in the popular diets, carbohydrates (also known as carbs) are important for a healthy organism.

In a nutshell, carbohydrates are macronutrients which means that they are one of the three main ways through which our body obtains energy or calories. Carbohydrates are also the body’s main source of energy – and they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – hence the name.

Now, the classification of carbs includes many types and many groups. To better illustrate this, there are:

  • Simple and complex carbs (based on their molecule structure)
  • Monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides (based on their molecule structure and source)
  • Good and bad carbs (where good are the carbs coming from natural sources such as fruit, opposed to the bad carbs being found in processed products)

The function of carbohydrates is related to providing energy for the central nervous system and every working muscle. Below, we are listing their benefits.

The Benefits Of Eating Carbohydrates Before And After A Workout

As mentioned above, carbohydrates provide fuel for our central nervous system as well as energy for our working muscles. They also prevent the protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. They are also important for proper brain function and are found to positively influence the mood, memory and other functions.

When it comes to the consumption of carbs before and after a workout, most of the experts would agree that it is before to consume carbohydrates before a workout as the main source of energy – and balance with proteins after the workout.

Still, carbohydrates can be a great source of glycogen after a workout (especially because your glycogen levels are low at that time).

So, if you want to have maximum energy while training, you can consume carbohydrates before your training. If, on the other hand, the purpose of your training is to bulk up (add muscle) rather than shred your body, carbing up before throwing on your kit is necessary.

The best-case scenario is to consume most of the slow-digesting carbohydrates before a workout – and leave the fast-digesting carbohydrates for after the exercise.

Examples Of Foods That Are Categorized As Carbohydrates

There are many different groups of foods that contain carbohydrates. Obviously, each food contains them in a different and relative amount. So, the best way to understand which food contains carbohydrates is through the following examples listed below:

  • Dairy products – milk, yogurt, ice cream
  • Fruit – whole fruit and fruit juice
  • Grains – bread, rice, crackers and cereal
  • Legumes – beans and other plant-based products
  • Starchy vegetables – potatoes and corn
  • Sugary sweets (processed carbs) – soda, candy, cookies and other desserts

What’s important to mention at this point is the fact that carbohydrates are not inherently bad. In fact, our bodies need the glucose sourced in them for fuel. However, it is always important to pick nutrient-rich food sources and pay attention to the size of your portions (if they include carbohydrates).

A Final Word

In the end, carbohydrates are best consumed in their healthy and unprocessed form – and at the right time. Usually, nutritionists advise to consume them in the morning or at least for lunch and leave the other nutrients for your snack and dinner choices.

Moreover, you should try to focus on the ‘good carbs’ which are essentially carbohydrates that are low or moderate in calories, high in nutrients, devoid of refined sugars/grains, high in natural fiber, low in sodium and saturated fat as well as low in (or devoid of) any cholesterol and trans fats.

 

Organize Your Process

 

Have you started working towards the goals you have set for yourself? If you followed my advice on the Lee’s Fitness Unlimited Podcast, the answer is yes. As I’ve mentioned in the “Organize Your Process” episode, the first step of putting action behind your goals is to write them down. Ok, so now you have your notepad with your goals written down. Now next to each goal write down five key factors that will contribute to your success.

Consistency is the key to successfully accomplishing your goals. Every day the objective is to take one of the five key factors and focus on improving in that specific area. For example, if your goal is to lose some weight around your stomach and mid section, your five factors of success might look like this:

    1. Get with a workout partner
    2. Do more cardio
    3. Eat with a better diet
    4. Do more core strength training
    5. Focus on recovery




Let’s start the list by getting with a workout partner and having another source of accountability. It is good to have someone to train with to push you to go harder when you would normally consider giving up. Feel free to bring your training partner to one of my boxing or fitness classes!

Next is to start doing more cardio. Go for walks, jog, run, or try going on hikes. If you need extra motivation to get into your cardio training mode, this would be a great opportunity to include your training partner.

Day three would be focused on sharpening your discipline with your diet. It is important to educate yourself about your diet and understand the nutritional facts about the foods you eat. You can also use this day to remove a unhealthy food from your diet for that day. If you can successfully go without a certain food craving for one day, it can become a healthy habit for your lifestyle with repetition and consistency.

By day four you can start to focus more on building muscles, so you will focus on your strength training more. Try a new core strength routine or set a goal for the amount of sit ups that you want to rep.

On day five you should slow the pace down and focus on your recovery. Go get yourself a massage or spend some time stretching and soaking your muscles. It is very important for your body’s development that you understand how to allow it to recover from intense training sessions.

Do you see how productive you can be towards accomplishing your goals by simply writing them down?