One of the first things most people do to lower their weight or body fat is to decrease their carbohydrates consumption. This type of dieting has many variations ranging from the extreme almost zero carb diets to the feasible alternating day carb diets, also known as carb cycling.
Speaking generally, lowering carb intake does help in reducing the overall caloric intake and your hunger, which in turn will lead to reduced weight or body fat. But, going too low on carbs can cause loss of muscle mass, which will, of course, be tremendously detrimental to your bodybuilding or fitness goals.
To put it simply, if you don’t eat enough carbs you will have less energy, you will be less efficient in the gym and you will not be able to reach your full athletic potential.
Now that we got that out of the way, we must also take into account that not all carbs are of the same type and these types have different effects on your body, either beneficial or detrimental. In this article, we will go over the main types of carbohydrates and the exact time interval in which you should consume them according to your specific goals.
Carbs are divided into three types based upon the digestion speed and the content of fiber in them. The digestion speed is the main factor deciding what time you should eat a specific carb type:
Fast Digesting Carbs (high glycemic index)
The reason they are called fast is because they are digested fast and go into the bloodstream very quickly. This makes fast carbs an excellent ingredient in your post-workout shakes that are meant to speed up recovery and replenish the muscles with nutrients. Regardless of whether you are trying to gain muscle mass or are trying to increase your strength and performance, it always recommended that you consume fast carbs in the post-workout time window.
However, their usefulness doesn’t extend past this time window. Outside of it, their effect is very diminished if not outright counterproductive so you should avoid them if you start gaining fat a bit too fast. Common sources of fast carbs are white sugar, white bread, dextrose, various sports drinks, waxy maize starch etc.
Medium Digesting Carbs
These carbs can be consumed throughout the entire day in most of your meals. But since they are in the middle, and are neither slow nor fast-digesting carbs they are not exactly the optimal choice for your post or pre-workout meals. Common sources include white/basmati rice, sweetcorn and most of the fruits you can find in your supermarket.
Slow Digesting Carbs (low glycemic index)
As the name says they are digested slowly and enter the blood stream at a lower continuous rate. That means that they stay in the body for longer periods of time which would make them an excellent ingredient to add in the meal before your workout as it will keep your blood sugar level at a steady level and become a source of long-term sustainable energy.
Generally speaking, these carbs make you feel fuller for an extended period and prevent you from eating too much than a fast carb meal would if we took the same amount. In any case, those who want to lose weight, slow carbs are ideal and their amount should be adjusted according to your daily energy needs. Common sources include granary bread, oats, brown rice etc.
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Carbs with fiber (vegetables)
It always better to separate the vegetables from other carb types. The reason being is that vegetables are rich in nutrients and excellent fiber source. Another reason why they’re great is because they are low in calories and increase your satiety. Regardless of your fitness goals, it is always recommended to keep the fibrous carb levels high. Common sources include broccoli, spinach, and asparagus.
- Choose medium or slow-digesting carbs during the day depending on how much energy you spend.
- Only consume fast carbs in the post-workout time window.
- Regardless of your goals always keep your fibrous carb intake high.
- Consume some type of carb at every meal except the one before you go to bed.