Despite the trending magazine articles and fad diets putting carbohydrates on blast, carbs are one of the most important macronutrients that help fuel your mind and your body. In fact, if you’re not eating enough carbohydrates, you could actually be doing more harm than good. Carbohydrates are not created equal, and come in an abundance of different forms. The key is to include the right carbs in your diet to help boost brain function, give you more energy, and support your health and fitness goals.
Improves Energy Levels
Glycogen is produced from glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. Glycogen is stored in the muscle, brain, heart, and liver cells. Glycogen is the main fuel source for normal brain function and provides your body with energy, by generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP). If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you can feel tired, lethargic, lose mental focus, and slow mental processing. Not to mention, insufficient carb intake, will interrupt athletic performance since you’ll have less energy to be physically active. Carbohydrates help prolong exercise performance, improve endurance, and help aid in post-workout recovery.
Improves Athletic Performance
Glycogen is the major fuel source that your body utilizes during exercise. Your body naturally depletes glycogen stores during your workout and is the main factor in the onset of fatigue. Numerous clinical studies have proven that prolonged exercise correlates with low glycogen muscle content [R]. During intense, intermittent exercise, and throughout prolonged physical activity, glucose is oxidized through aerobic and anaerobic exercise to produce ATP, which is required for muscle contraction. Glycogen is depleted at the rate of physical activity. As a result, high-intensity training will deplete glycogen stores quicker, than moderate-intensity exercise [R].
According to the Journal Of Sports Medicine “During exercise at intensities greater than approximately 60% maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), blood glucose and muscle glycogen are the primary fuels oxidized to produce the ATP required to sustain exercise, in large part because more fast-twitch motor units are recruited as exercise intensity increases, increasing the reliance on carbohydrate as the predominant fuel source [R].
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Therefore, if you plan on enduring prolonged exercise bouts, or have multiple WODs in your workouts, it’s crucial to supplement with a clean, natural complex carbohydrate to help replenish glycogen stores, for long-lasting energy and improved endurance. We recommend Swolverine’s Clean Carbs. It’s made with 100% complex carbohydrates superfoods, sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Clean Carbs (45 Servings)
Helps Build More Muscle
When it comes to building muscle protein gets all the glory. But if you want to grow that booty and be part of the 'strong not skinny' movement, then you're going to want to add carbs to your diet. Tons of "IG experts" and fitness enthusiasts tell you that you need to cut carbs or lower your carb intake to put on muscle and get the body you've dreamed of, when in fact, it's quite the opposite.
High-intensity and resistance training requires energy, and carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy. Having low glycogen levels, coming from a low carbohydrate diet, would negatively impact your athletic performance and results.
Getting the proper and adequate amounts of essential amino acids from protein and glycogen from carbohydrates is crucial for post-workout nutrition, in order to replenish and initiate the repair process to optimize your training.
Clinical studies have shown that including carbohydrates and protein together into your post-workout nutrition has the greatest benefits on performance optimization and muscle growth. Just remember, if you want that muscle body with the tiny waist, you're going to need some complex carbs in the mix [R].
Maintains Healthy Weight
One of the greatest benefits of including complex carbohydrates in your diet is increasing satiation (fullness). High fiber foods and complex carbohydrates are more filling than simple carbs, helping you eat less and stay fuller for longer. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce body fat. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and don’t spike blood glucose levels, maintaining a steady stream of prolonged energy, without the crash and unwanted weight gain.
Unhealthy eating habits, such as eating convenient foods that are pre-packaged, instead of including raw natural wholesome quality carbohydrates, will result in excessive body fat accumulation and obesity [R]. Simple carbohydrates, such as store-bought baked goods, cereal, pop-tarts, donuts, etc. are literally just sugar, and will spike blood insulin levels, sending you on a roller-coaster of unhealthy eating habits. As a result, the energy simple provides is short-lived, resulting in an energy crash, and accumulated body fat. The problem is food additives. Most packaged foods, add sugars hidden with unrecognizable names, in the “other ingredients.” My advice is to learn how to read a nutrition label, so you can watch out for refined sugar additives.
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Supports Bowel Health
Fiber is considered a carbohydrate and is classified either as soluble or insoluble.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material when it goes through your GI tract. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and other whole grains.
- Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases bowel movement. If you don’t get enough insoluble fiber in your diet, you can have symptoms such as irregular bowel movement and constipation. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are all good sources of insoluble fiber.
Including higher amounts of dietary fiber in your diet can help with normalizing bowel movements and decreasing the chances for constipation. Studies show that dietary fiber also helps maintain bowel health, reducing chances for hemorrhoids and colon cancer.
Try to include some of the dietary fiber food choices below to boost your fiber intake and maintain good bowel health
- Whole-grain products
- Beans, peas and other legumes
- Nuts and seeds
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What Type Of Carbohydrates Should I Eat?
We all need carbohydrates, specifically glucose to survive. Your brain needs a continuous supply of glycogen to supply your brain and red blood cells with energy. There are many different types of carbohydrates, but remember, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Each type of carbohydrate has a different effect on the body, in terms of how it’s absorbed, and metabolized.
Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars (glucose). Dependent upon what type of carbohydrate you eat, it can affect how much glucose goes into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar is too high, your body dispels insulin, to try and clean out the sugar. The more insulin that is dispelled, the more body fat you’ll create. The easiest way to break down what type of carbohydrates you should include in your diet is by classifying them as simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates also known as unrefined sugars are really just empty calories, meaning they provide no nutritional significance for your body, besides a quick boost of energy, followed by a spiraling crash. Simple carbs are things such as added sugars, cereal, cakes, candy, donuts, etc. If it tastes delicious, it’s probably a simple carb.
Complex carbohydrates, named for the complex carbohydrate cellular structure polysaccharides provide long-lasting, sustained energy, that doesn’t spike your blood glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates are better for you because they slow the absorption of sugars, which removes cholesterol and slows down your digestion to keep you fuller for longer. A diet consisting of complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, will help optimize body composition. To read more about the specifics between simple and complex carbohydrates read the article below.
RELATED ARTICLE Simple Vs. Complex Carbohydrates
To keep things simple, try to eat less-processed, simple carbs, and add eat whole foods such as sweet potatoes, yams, oats, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. This will provide your body with ample amounts of micronutrients, antioxidants, and quality dietary fiber. Not eating enough carbohydrates can also be challenging, since most of us lead extremely busy lives. One of the easiest ways to get the wholesome natural complex carbohydrates you need into your diet is to use a complex carbohydrate supplement. Swolverine’s Clean Carbs is made with 100% natural complex carb superfoods, such as sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries, to provide a long-lasting, sustained energy release to help you meet your health and fitness goals. It’s a great way to meet your macros, and also works as a convenient healthy breakfast option when you’re getting out the door to work in the morning.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Clean Carbs (45 Servings)
How Many Carbohydrates Should I Eat?
There is no “correct” amount of carbohydrates, which is the same for everyone. Carbohydrate intake depends on many factors such as age, weight, height, activity level, the intensity of activity, what foods you eat, and body composition.
Minimum carbohydrate intake, if you’re trying to lose weight, is anywhere from 50- 150 grams per day. If you’re pregnant or nursing, your carb RDA is 175 grams or 210 grams per day, respectively.
Most athletes, engaging in physical activity with more muscle mass require additional carbohydrates. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that endurance athletes generally need 2.3 to 5.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day. This means a 150-pound endurance athlete requires 345 to 825 grams of carbs daily, depending on training intensity and duration.
If you need help figuring out exactly how many carbs you should eat to meet your goals, check out THE SWOLE KITCHEN. Take a brief survey, so we can find out how to create the best custom nutrition program for you and your goals. Then, get connected with your personal nutrition coach, and start getting the results you've been waiting for. The first consultation is free.
Why You Need Carbohydrates: The Takeaway
These days, carbs have lost their popularity. Sure, if your goal is a major weight loss transformation then reducing your overall carb intake, is probably in your best interest. However, if you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight, improve your overall health and wellness, or build the strong body you've always dreamed of including quality complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and quality fats, is the best way to create a healthy lifestyle. Athletes especially need carbohydrates to maintain endurance and energy levels during prolonged exercise and for recovery. Overall, carbohydrates are crucial for optimizing your health; you just need to choose the right ones.
Ready To Add Some More Complex Carbs To Your Diet?
Your body needs carbohydrates for optimal performance and recovery during high-intensity and endurance training. But, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Swolverine's Clean Carbs® is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries. These four ingredients provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. Delicious and rich you can add it to your smoothies, shakes, or mix with water, for a rich and tasty treat.
SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance. We perform when you perform.
We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
Murray, Bob, and Christine Rosenbloom. “Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes.” Nutrition reviews vol. 76,4 (2018): 243-259. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuy001
Hawley JA, Leckey JJ. Carbohydrate Dependence During Prolonged, Intense Endurance Exercise. Sports Med. 2015;45 Suppl 1:S5-12.
Ferretti, Fabrizio, and Michele Mariani. “Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrate Dietary Patterns and the Global Overweight and Obesity Pandemic.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 14,10 1174. 4 Oct. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijerph14101174