One of the most commonly spread myths is that carbs are the enemy. Low carb diets are almost always trending, but severely limiting your carbohydrate intake can negatively impact your health and actually cause you to gain instead of lose weight. It also causes heightened stress, metabolic swings and can result in depression.  

See Also >> 5 Nutrition Myths Debunked 

Simple VS Complex

Carbs are a macronutrient and an important source of calories. Keep in mind that carbohydrates and calories are not your body’s enemy; your body needs a certain amount from your diet on a daily basis, and you have been eating them most of your life. The main difference between carbohydrates is the source you get them from - simple and complex carbs differ in the amount of time that is required to metabolize them.  

Complex carbohydrates provide dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The best sources are whole foods such as brown rice, fresh potatoes, and green veggies. Many experts say that there is very little fiber left in foods like white bread and rice after processing.  

Simple carbs are basically simple sugars and are found in fruit, candy, anything processed, and milk products. Your body quickly digests and absorbs simple carbs to utilize as energy. It takes a bit more time to metabolize complex carbohydrates. This is why it is said that timing is everything when it comes to carbs. You should not avoid them, but instead pay attention to when you consume them and which type you’re consuming.  

Carb Timing Tips

One of the most important meals for anyone training is post workout.

  1. Within 30 minutes

  2. Consume simple carbs such as fruit 30 minutes after you have completed your routine. This helps speed recuperation and enhances your muscle building efforts. Simple carbs are also high in potassium and natural sugar. These acts as electrolytes and replaces fluids your body loses during intense exercise to reduce muscle soreness. Bananas, oranges, and grapefruits are excellent choices.

  3. 1 hour later 

  4. Follow this with complex carbohydrates and protein about one hour later. Complex carbs form muscle glycogen which is high-powered fuel for intense training. They should make up the bulk of your caloric intake. They burn slow so your energy stores last longer. Complex carbohydrates maintain blood sugar levels, decrease fat storage, and reduce fatigue.  

Intense training also reduces your blood sugar levels significantly. Post-workout carb consumption is vital to your body’s muscle building functions. They incite insulin release which is a natural anabolic hormone and is vital for the development of lean muscle, as well as weight loss. Without this insulin spike, it is possible that your body will enter a catabolic state instead, effectively rendering your entire workout as useless. Always keep in mind the importance of post training nutrition.

Low Carb Trend

Low carb diets can be detrimental to your health, especially if they are followed for extended periods of time. They are your body’s number one source of energy, and have been since you could eat. Both your muscles and brain must have energy from carb sources. You can’t just stop eating carbs and expect your body to adapt - it takes time, so if you wish to go low carb begin with carb cycling around your workouts. You may lose a bit of weight on a low carb diet, but in the long run, you will lose muscle mass as well if it’s not done properly.

The School of Health Sciences at the Deakin University in Burwood, Australia took a closer look at the short and long-term effects of low carbohydrate diets. This study revealed that for short periods carb restriction can result in substantial weight loss. This is mostly from glycogen stores and water though. On the other hand, health complications may result from prolonged carb restriction, such as impairment of cardiac contraction, irregular heartbeat, and osteoporosis.  

Remember that carbs, simple and complex, are not necessarily bad for you. You should eat smaller amounts more frequently and pay attention to the WHEN factor. Restricting carbohydrates can result in severe muscle damage which includes organs like your heart if it is not planned out properly.