Carbohydrates are more misunderstood than Kayne West when it comes to training and athletic nutrition. And with the wrong information, carbs can easily jump on the stage during your training progress and say Beyonce should have won.
More often than not, you hear from the media and Dr. Oz or someone on Facebook (because they heard from Dr. Oz) that carbs are the enemy. And this has been planted in our psyche that anytime we eat carbs we’re either helping to fund terrorist cells or probably going to hell. So we should only eat protein and by that information I mean eat 500 grams of protein a day and nothing else.
Well, that information is about as twisted and wrong as a French Horror movie. In actuality, carbs can help you maintain and gain muscle mass. Complex carbs provide the body with the fuel it needs to muscle up so stop RIGHT NOW with badmouthing carbs. Apologize to them. Now, hug it out kids.
So what are the rules on how to calculate carbs and where to get them from? I’m glad you asked! Typically it’s recommended you take in around 40-60% carbs as it pertains to your daily caloric intake. Rule of thumb is to aim for 50% but that’s only because it’s in the dead center of what I just told you. Ridiculous. Just aim for between the two.
More math. One gram of a carb equals 4 calories. So we’ll give you the rough outline. If doctors orders are 3000 calories a day, you’ll need 1500 of calories to be from carbs. Math says that’s 375 grams of carbs. Depending if you are doing that cutting business for a show, or trying to get more cut up in general that can be a little lower.
Now if you’re reading this, you hopefully have a bit of a grasp on the basics of what you should be eating. If not, this will be new information to you. Carbs are your basic energy source. The catch though is they are not completely vital to survival. You can use energy from body fat, healthy fats and even a small amount of protein can help fuel you. Not much though. If you’re going to be active and a fully functional human being, you’ll need some at least to keep some in your diet.
The issue a lot of people have with carbs is the idea that a “carb is a carb” when it just simply isn’t true. If you are going to eat a bunch processed carbs, you’re getting a distorted version of what a carb should be and how it can be used. A yam or sweet potato for example is a great carb that athletes and gymrats have used over and over for a solid energy source, not to mention the vitamin content. A pile of doughnuts however, are not considered by the International Get Your Swole On Federation a healthy source of carbohydrates. As much as you would like to believe otherwise. And I know how you probably feel about a tasty doughnut.
Good sources of carbs that never fail are yams, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and beans are usually on the list of good options. Quinoa, for instance, is packed with a healthy dose of carbs but also with a complete amino profile and a minuscule amount of fat, making it a great carb to eat on a regular basis. And if you’re going to eat these, keep the portion sizes smaller, but a slight more often. As small portions are easier for the body to handle and process, and it means less sitting around and turning to fat. It also keeps your blood sugar levels up eating a few post workout, which can help with the anabolic (muscle building) process. Not eating them results in a catabolic state which is a no-no when it comes to building the solid steel muscles.
More rules about eating carbs: Stop eating them a few hours before bed so they don’t get stored as fat. Eat a small amount with a protein source at meals to help your body break them down more efficiently. Also eat fruit POST workout to help your body take in the post-workout protein, but eat the yams and rice before the workout for energy. A good rule of thumb is eat some fruit in the morning to jump start your body and then stop with fruit except for post workout, and eat more veggies throughout the day to get a hold of our vitamins.
More than anything, depending on your diet and goals, the above can vary. So don’t think this is “word as law”. But make sure you stick with the healthy non-process carbs and see what works best for you while heading to those goals. Got it? Good! Hey! PUT THAT DOUGHNUT DOWN MAN!!