Carbohydrates receive far too much of a bad reputation when in fact, if we simply choose the correct types of carbs and consume them at the appropriate times, the body utilises them for energy very efficiently rather than storing them as fat.
Let’s get one thing straight first – carbs are a macronutrient that your body needs to function properly. Anyone who says otherwise needs to do their research. Even if you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle, you need to be consuming carbs, but more so you need to know how to consume them.
The best types of carbs are the natural, high fibre types that are slow digesting and low in sugar, such as; brown or basmati rice, quinoa, sweet potato, wholemeal pasta, rolled oats, all bran, rice cakes.
Timing of when you consume carbs also makes a difference. The correct timing for carb intake is during the first half of the day so that the body can use them for energy throughout the day.
I also recommend having carbs before exercising in order to get the most out of your performance. An example would be to have oats or rice about an hour before sport or training and then to have some quick digesting sugar type carb like honey or a banana closer to the start of exercise, approximately 15 minutes before. This will provide quick energy release followed by long lasting energy. It’s important to understand though that if the aim of the exercise is to trim fat rather than perform at optimal energy levels, then we should rather train on an empty stomach to force the body to burn up stubborn stored energy.
Remember carbs = energy. So if you overeat them and neglect their function then they will store as fat.
Mark Robinson, aka 'Health Man Mark', is a practicing Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and a Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science. He is also a leading figure in the natural body building industry, taking out the World Fitness Model America title.