Confused about carbs? Don’t fret: you’re not alone. Carbs are often referred to as good or bad, complex or simple. In order to understand how and when to fit them into our daily diets, it is crucial to understand what happens within our bodies when we consume them.
Carbohydrates – sugars, starches, and fiber – are the best source of energy for your body, especially for muscle , brain, and central nervous system functions. Without a source of carbs, your body will turn elsewhere for that energy. Top trainer and nutritionist to the stars of fitness, Mike Davies says, “Your body will use muscle for energy in the absence of carbohydrates. The daily rigors of weight training, cardiovascular work, and anaerobic work require fuel from carbohydrates, [which also] help in recovery.
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In your body, all carbohydrates are eventually broken down into glucose. Once in the bloodstream, glucose is taken up by the cells and used for fuel (its primary purpose), stored in the liver or muscle as glycogen, or converted to fat for later use. The obvious question is how to eat the right carbs in order to burn them before the body can convert them to fat.
Five tips for choosing good carbs:
- Choose carbs in their natural form, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams, whole grains, legumes, veggies, and fruits.
- Steer clear of carbs with added sugars, such as juices and cereals.
- Choose carbs with higher protein and fiber content, such as steel-cut oatmeal.
- Avoid processed flour products, including white bread, flour tortillas, and crackers.
- Avoid empty carb calories found in foods such as sauces, alcohol, and syrups.