• Allison Fahrenbach

5 Reasons to Stop Being Carb-Phobic

It's the trend that just won't die.

Despite all of the science and evidence many people, even high intensity athletes, STILL have carb phobia.

It seems to me that far too many active individuals still want to cut, remove or limit carbs.

It's a shame, because active people who are already lean have the least to gain and most to lose by going low carb.

If you train hard, this energy source is your best friend because it will not only enhance your gym performance, but also your body composition and overall sense of wellbeing.

1. Carbs fuel improvements. This is the first and foremost reason why it's important to get an adequate carbohydrate intake. Intense training is what provides the stimulus needed for you to make progress with your physique. If you cant train intensely, you can't make intense gains.

And carbs provide the fuel.

Cutting carbs too severely can leave you feeling lethargic, fatigued and even miserable. Regardless of whether your goals involve performance, strength or aesthetics, it’s wise to consume the majority of your carbs around your training window. That means consuming carbs at the last meal you eat before training, during training, and immediately after training to maximize your workouts.

How much carb you consume will depend upon your daily caloric requirements and the length and intensity of your workouts.

Typically if your training lasts longer than 1.5 hours then try taking some carbs during training. Anything shorter than that and carbs before training and after training are usually sufficient.

2. Carbs help build lean muscle. Carbs are known to be what's called "protein sparing." This means they protect the protein you eat from being converted to glucose to serve as an energy source.

The last thing you want is for valuable protein to undergo this conversion because there aren't adequate carbs around to fuel your training.

Without adequate carb intake your body can be placed into a muscle wasting state, which can have a negative impact not just on how you look or feel, but also on the overall health of your metabolism.

You want protein to be available to sustain lean muscle tissue and the best way to prevent your body being forced to use protein for fuel is to consume carbohydrates, specifically in and around the time of your training.

3. Carbs fuel brain and nervous system functions. They are essential in the proper functioning of the central nervous system (CNS), which is impacted by your training just as your muscular or immune systems are. The ability of your CNS to function optimally and recover appropriately is essential to your progress.

The CNS is responsible for generating muscular contractions in all types of training, so when you aren't properly fueled, or if you're not recovered fully, eventually it can tire out.

When your CNS is tired you'll find you don't have the ability to generate force or power like usual and chances are you'll feel fuzzy headed and uncoordinated. Eating carbs helps combat this.

The human brain uses blood glucose as its main fuel source. The brain doesn't have a stored supply of blood glucose the same way the muscles and liver do, which is why low carb diets make you feel like you're in a brain fog.

This impairs your CNS function, which in turn affects your training. Consuming carbs helps facilitate proper CNS function and also helps your nervous system recover from hard training.

4. Carbs enhance workout recovery. Insulin has received a lot of negative attention in recent years, but the truth is that at certain times, spiking insulin has it uses.

One of these times is in the post workout window.

Releasing insulin post workout acts as an anabolic hormone, helping to drive protein into the worked muscle tissue for enhanced muscular growth and faster recovery.

Fully replenishing your muscle glycogen levels as quickly as possible after workouts is important for sustaining current levels of lean muscle while also providing an environment conducive to muscle growth.

5. Carbs help you burn fat. A lot of hard working athletes avoid carbs in an attempt to coax their body to burn fat but the truth is that carbohydrate needs to be present in order to enable fat metabolism.

In other words, you need some amount of carbs in your diet in order for fat to be successfully used as energy.

If a low level of carbs exists, a substance known as pyruvate begins to build up. Pyruvate is formed during glucose metabolism and plays an incredibly important role in the energy process. If glucose is not present, pyruvate can't do its job properly. When pyruvate can't do its job, fat has nowhere to attach in the body’s mitochondria, which slows the metabolism, and halts or extremely lessens the body’s ability to utilize fat for fuel.

Carbs also provide dietary fiber, help boost your mood, bolster the health of your heart, and can help you to focus and enhance your memory.

A good GENERAL rule of thumb is to eat around .75-1g per lb of bodyweight per day of carbohydrate to start. From there, depending upon your training, your body, your metabolism and your goals you can go lower (maybe .5g per lb of bodyweight) or higher (about 1.5-2g per lb of bodyweight).

Strive to get most of your carbohydrates from nutrient dense whole foods to optimize body composition, health, wellbeing and recovery.

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