If you’re confused by carbohydrates and the role they play in a balanced diet and/or training regime, we don’t blame you! One week we’re told that decreasing our carbohydrate intake is the single most important factor for weight-loss and the next week, ’eat more carbohydrates!’ is the breaking news on our Facebook page. So, why the mixed messages and what’s the real truth? Our Pinnacle experts investigate…

Mixed messages
“The reason people are so confused about carbohydrates is two-pronged” say Pinnacle Cranbourne Manager, Gary Bennett. “First, carbohydrates are found in foods that are nutrient-dense, as well as those that offer no nutritional benefit whatsoever and second; people are genuinely scared of carbs because they’ve been bombarded and misinformed by the message that ‘carbs make you fat!’

So, what’s the truth?
Just like petrol is essential to fuel a car, carbohydrates are an essential part of fuelling the body. When we exert our bodies through exercise, we need more fuel to reach peak performance and hence, an increased carbohydrate intake is often necessary. To continue the car analogy, this is the same as when a car goes up a steep hill and we accelerate heavily for more power – more fuel is needed when we push our cars and our bodies.

The effects of not having the right amount of fuel (aka carbohydrates), can be extreme – such as fainting, but generally you will just feel fatigued quicker and won’t receive the maximum possible results from your training session. In addition, carbohydrates promote an active recovery so it’s often recommended that you continue consuming the right types of carbohydrates after your session has ended.

What is the ‘right’ type?
Carbohydrates can be broken down into two groups; simple and complex, and whilst the latter is generally assumed to be a higher quality choice, both groups include food items that are better than others. “When deciding carbohydrate requirements in relation to training, it’s far better to consider the frequency, duration and intensity of the activity, and match these to the performance and body goals of the individual”, Bennett suggest. Further, as stated on the AIS Sports Nutrition website “it’s important to consider immediate requirements and what a whole food or snack can provide (such as protein, vitamins and minerals) rather than looking at only one component of any food.”

Source: Carbohydrate – The Facts, http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/basics/carbohydrate__how_much

*Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and/or muscle gain over an extended period of time.

*Please contact a Health Professional for further information.