Thinking about cutting carbs? Think again!

One of the biggest nutrition misconceptions that has lingered on for decades is that carbs are the enemy and you should be avoiding them. Carbs have been demonized on social media for some time now leading to people feeling scared to consume this major food group. 

If you have been under the assumption that you have to avoid or dramatically minimize carb consumption when on your fitness journey, just know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s time we debunk that myth and tell you why you SHOULD be eating carbs. 

#1  A low/no carb diet is highly unsustainable 

Our body’s primary source of energy comes from carbohydrates and when we consume carbs, our body breaks them down into glucose, which it then uses to fuel our brain, muscles, and organs. If you completely eliminate carbs from your diet, you may feel tired and sluggish, making it difficult to exercise and be active. Additionally, you may experience brain fog, making it hard to concentrate and focus. 

 #2 Carbs help build muscle and improve your athletic performance 

Many people think protein is the only nutrient you need to build lean muscle – but we also need carbs too. Carbs help you power through your workouts and it helps you recover faster as well. 

Carbohydrates have a special function in our bodies. They help transport amino acids to the muscles as well as stimulating muscle protein synthesis (1). Carbs eaten prior to exercise also helps increase lean muscle mass (2). 

 #3 Carbs also help with fat loss

YES, you read that right! 

Eating complex carbohydrates is the KEY to feeling fuller whilst on your fat loss journey. Complex carbs (can be found in wholegrains, legumes, and most vegetables and fruits), contain an essential nutrient called fiber. 

Consuming more than 20g of fiber daily is associated with increased weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and better adherence to a healthy diet (34).

This is because fiber helps signal the sensation of fullness sooner, which helps to regulate appetite and make it less likely for you to overeat later on. So if you’re trying to lose inches around your waistline, ensure you are consuming the right kind of carbs. 

 #4 Carbs help with exercise performance and recovery 

Carbohydrates are the main energy source for exercise. Increased carbs boosts muscle glycogen levels which enables higher exercise intensity for both cardio and resistance training (5). 

You will be able to train better and recover faster when carbs are a regular part of your diet. 

Also, consuming carbs within the hour after finishing your workout routine helps to restore muscle glycogen levels to help speed up muscle recovery.

#5 Carbs can help you sleep better 

I am certain that this is one benefit you may not have ever heard about! 

Moderate-high carbohydrate diets are linked with improved sleep quality and the ability to fall asleep faster. This is because carbs increase natural melatonin (sleep hormone) production (6).

This benefit is particularly the case when a meal containing carbohydrates is eaten within a few hours before sleep. (*If you need a sign to eat pasta for dinner tonight, this is it!)

#6 Carbs can help elevate your mood

Without carbs, you may feel more irritable, anxious, or depressed and that is because when we eat carbs, our body releases serotonin, which is known as our ‘happy hormone’, a neurotransmitter that can improve our mood and reduce anxiety.

In conclusion, carbohydrates are an integral part of any healthy, well balanced diet. They should not be eliminated when trying to achieve any fitness goal. Instead, you should focus on consuming nutrient-rich carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. 

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion.