Last week I talked about the importance of breakfast and carbs before a workout. I got some good feedback and some common questions such as, what are carbs? What are some good sources of carbs? How long before my workout should I eat them? This week I’m going to try and answer these questions.
Carbohydrates are sugars in various forms and structure. They are mainly found in plants, fruits, vegetables, and grains. You may have heard of simple sugars and complex carbohydrates before. They are both carbohydrates, but with different chemical structures that make them quicker or take longer to digest and be used for energy. Simple sugars are things like brown sugar, corn syrup, fruit syrup, molasses, barley malt, invert sugar, honey, and natural sweeteners. Complex carbohydrates are starches found in things such as seeds, corn, and various grains of bread, cereal, pasta, and pastries. You should have mainly complex carbs in your diet.
When it comes to your workout and the timing of your eating, the glycemic index of your food is the main factor in determining when you eat it. The glycemic index of a food takes into account the chemical structure and fiber content of the food, giving it a number value on a scale of 1-100. The higher the number, the quicker the carbs in the food can be digested and available for energy. Generally, you should have a moderate to lower glycemic index food 45-60 minutes before your workout. This allows for a slower and more constant breakdown of carbs so that you have energy throughout your workout. Having a food with a high glycemic index in the same time frame can cause a spike in insulin release, a drop in blood sugar, and lead to quicker fatigue. High GI foods are best consumed during or after exercise. If you’re going to eat them before, you should eat them outside of 60 minutes before you work out so that your blood sugar can return to normal first.
I understand that this might be confusing. Really this is an extensive subject and it’s hard to get everything into an e-mail that people will actually read. I wanted to give you the gist and hopefully I did, but if you have any questions definitely ask! I’ll try to cover more information in the coming weeks, but for now here are two websites that can help you determine the glycemic index of your foods:
What are good sources of carbs?
Fitness Together Michael