CARBOHYDRATES - the what, the when, the how

Ok so when we all started our fitness journeys we were told carbs were the devil… Whether it’s the infamous Mean Girls quote – ‘is butter a carb?’ or hearing of ‘no carb diets’ as we grew through our adolescence we were mostly taught (WRONGLY!) to steer clear of carbohydrates.

But recently with the huge Instagram fitness revolution, bowls of oats are flying across our phone screens left right and centre, so ARE carbs actually as bad as we were told, when should we eat carbs to maximise their value and what should we be eating in order to maximise our gains? We are here to answer all of these FAQ’s for you guys!

WHAT are carbs?

  • Carbs are one of the 3 macronutrients that make up the food you put into your body (the other two being fats and proteins)
  • Carbohydrates can be broken down into two main categories: simple and complex carbs:

Simple carbohydrates are sugars, they are made up of just one or two sugar molecules and are thus quick sources of energy as they can be digested very fast. Examples include all types of sugar, sodas, maple syrup, honey etc.

Complex carbohydrates are starches. They are often rich in fibre. As the name would suggest they are made up of more complex arrangements of sugar molecules and are thus harder to break down. They are slow burning sources of energy, not just providing a short temporary boost. Examples include green veg, whole grains (oats, mornflake) and foods made from them, potatoes, corn, beans, lentils etc.

  • Essentially carbohydrates are what give you energy to function and are therefore necessary for bodily function, despite that they’re frequently maligned in trendy instagrammable diets.
  • A lot of social media has recently started describing carbs as ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’… which to us is utter bollocks. No food is ‘bad’. You aren’t ‘bad’ if you have white rice and not brown! This usually means that a ‘good carb’ has a lower carb content… but this is usually marginal.
  • However!!! A clear distinction has to be made between the likes of sugary fizzy drinks and carbs such as oats or rice. The former can most certainly be described as ‘bad’, containing very little nutritional value whilst also contributing to ill-health.

WHEN should you eat carbs?

  • There is no wrong time to eat carbs!
  • However as described above, carbs are an energy source, so it is really important to eat sufficient amounts pre-workout (to give your body the fuel it needs to smash your gym sesh) and post-workout (to refuel)
  • It is important to take into account the time it will take your body to break different carbohydrates down. It will take your body roughly 1 hour to break down complex carbohydrates so if you are eating oats (as we like to do!) pre-workout, then it is essential that you do this more than 1 hours before you start your workout.
  • If you find that you don’t have this much time before your workout then stick to simple carbs

WHAT should you eat as your carbohydrates?

  • My go-to carb source is Mornflake high protein oats without a doubt. Anyone who tells you that all oats are the same is lying! These oats have 17g of oats per serving and keep me feeling full and energised. All of their oats are also made sustainably, on their farms in Cheshire by a family run farm, and the quality is simply miles better than anything else on the market.
  • I time my bowl of oats on when I'm working out. For example if I'm training in the morning I'll have my oats then, if I'm not training till the evening I'll save my oats for then!
  • If you're at work and won't be able to make a bowl of Mornflake oats for your pre workout meal in the evening then overnight oats are a great idea! Simple soak your oats overnight in water, milk, almond milk, whatever your preference is. Add whey (if you so wish, we use Multipower French Vanilla most days, G4G20 if you'd like some dolla off!), and usually I mix some berries in with it too. Pop it in the fridge overnight and you have a yummy pre-workout meal!
  • In addition to oats, my other main sources of carbohydrates are rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes. (Fact: Contrary to popular myth, sweet potatoes are actually higher in carbohydrates than regular potatoes! Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index - blood sugar level).

Hope this has been useful to you girls! Please let me know what you think. BIG love, LP x


FoodLucy Plenderleith