What is a Carbohydrate?
A carbohydrate is a fancy word for sugar. Your body needs sugar to do EVERYTHING like walking up stairs, cutting an onion, waiting on line for coffee, cleaning your room, breathing, and everything else. Carbohydrates can also be thought of as ENERGY.
There are two types of carbohydrates. There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates spike your blood sugar up quickly for a short period of time. Complex carbohydrates spike your blood sugar gradually over a longer period of time. Simple carbohydrates come from foods like fruit, syrups, honey, and white potatoes. Complex carbohydrates are your foods like whole grain oats, fibrous vegetables like broccoli, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, granola, quinoa, and brown rice.
Be aware that complex carbohydrates that become processed turn into white simple carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are usually white in color like white rice, white pasta, white bread, and quick oatmeal. If these processed carbohydrates are ingested, the effect is very similar to that of eating fruit, honey, and other simple carbohydrates.
When Should I Eat These Carbohydrates?
Simple carbohydrates should optimally be ingested right before and right after intense exercise or physical activity. The quick elevation in blood sugar levels will give your body a stream of fast, usable sugar to fuel your muscles. Ingesting simple carbs before a workout will also delay the time before your body taps into your reserve sugar stores called glycogen (stored glucose).
Complex carbohydrates should be eaten more throughout the day, preferably in the morning. But if your fitness goal is fat loss, your carbohydrate servings should mostly come from your lower calorie, complex carbohydrates which are your fibrous and green leafy vegetables.
Complex carbohydrates may also be optimally ingested a couple of hours before your workout and a couple of hours after your workout. Having complex carbs two hours before a workout will perfectly time the peak of blood sugar elevation right when your body needs it most.