Almost on the daily, I get questions about carbs. Do I eat carbs? Should I eat carbs? Can I eat carbs? When is the best time to eat carbs? I get A TONNN of questions about carbs. Things like:
- “Why don’t you eat carbs?”
- “So are you paleo?”
- “Do you ever eat ____ (bread, sweets, etc.)?!!”
So I thought it was time to go over this in a little more detail. I don’t want my posts about my diet to confuse anyone and I don’t want to demonize carbs AT ALL. And yes, I DO EAT CARBS. Just maybe not the typical foods most people think of.
This post is written with a mixture of my personal experience, coaching, bodybuilding, being on prep, going on ‘cuts’, research, conversations etc.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients. The top 3 main nutrients in our daily dietary intake. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. You need all the macronutrients to be healthy, but the amount needed varies from person to person.
Carbs are not the enemy, but they get a lot of attention when it comes to the diet culture because to make it simple, our culture like to categorise what are ‘good carbs’ and what are ‘bad carbs’. Even though not all carbs are made the same, they’ve kind of become grouped into one “bad food” category – thanks to diets like keto that severely restrict carbs. It has caused more long-term harm than good.
There are many different types of carbs. The carbs that we should be limited in our diets is usually the last one that we want to cut out from our diet aka sugar. The commonly demonize carbs are usually pasta, white rice, soda and fruit.
Lets break down carbs into starches, fiber and sugar. shall we?
Types of Carbs
Carbohydrates are more than just bread, pasta, pastries, and sweets. Healthy foods like fruits and veggies have carbs too! However, not all carbs are created equal.
Starches: these are foods like potatoes/sweet potatoes, legumes, lentils, grains like bread, pasta and crackers.
Fiber: if you’re looking for more fiber, go for plant-based foods: fruits, veggies and whole grains! Fiber is amazing for your digestive system, your cardiovascular system, and can help you feel full between meals.
Pro tip: Drink plenty of water if you’re upping your fiber intake … it can make you super bloated if you suddenly eat more than your body is used to!
Sugar: We all know what sugar is, but lets break it down into natural sugar from fruit and dairy, and added sugar. All sugar is processed but we want to consume sugar that are as close to the source as much as possible such as honey, sugarcane, maple syrup, It is the high-fructose corn syrup that are frown upon because those are so highly processed, it has removed healthy things like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you feel like you should limit sugar, focus on added sugar. These are added during processing to things like baked goods, soda, and other more “processed” foods.
Whether or not a carb is refined is important too. More refined = more processed. So for example, white rice, breads and pastas. They’re stripped of fiber and other nutrients during processing, whereas brown rice, whole grain pastas, and whole grain breads aren’t. Since refined grains don’t have the fiber to slow digestion, they raise your blood sugar more quickly.
Carbs = energy
Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source.
When you eat carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into glucose, which enters the cells to be used as fuel. Glucose provides fuel to the whole body, but it’s especially important for the brain.
(Ps:/ I have been on prep for long periods of time which requires me to cut out carbs out of my diet, and I could not function and I was angsty all the time.)
Extra glucose is stored in the liver and muscles. This is what your body uses later during a workout! Yes, some glucose may be stored as fat. Can your body use fat and protein as fuel if there isn’t enough glucose? Yep! But it’s not as efficient and could even compromise muscle growth.
How much carbs do I need?
I can’t answer that because I am not a certified nutritionist and I don’t know you. I’m sorry if that disappoints you but our diet and nutrition is more complex than giving you a number. I need to know how your diet like right is now? What kind of lifestyle do you lead? Are you a snacker? How often do you strength-train? There are many layers to this question.
But here is my advice; Always set protein intake first. This means to always prioritise to eat your protein first whether it is plant-based protein or animal-based protein. No matter how hungry you are, eat your protein first. If you are still hungry, finish what is left on your plate. In my experience with everyday clients, a lot of them do not eat enough protein and the chances of you over-eating protein more than your body needs, it is quite impossible unless you are a bodybuilder who is eating 2-3 chicken breast for both for lunch and dinner.
Bottom line: Focus on eating in a caloric deficit and all your 3 main macronutrients at every meal and one more thing, don’t do endless amount of cardio. Focus on building more muscles.
By building more muscles, it helps you lose weight (long-term). The more muscles you have, the easier it is for your body to lose fat and burn calories throughout the day.
In terms of losing fat, muscle will help with that, so if your goal is to lose weight by working out, gaining muscle to some capacity is part of the process. I always tell my clients to focus on the way your body is changing week by week, month by month— definition in their arms and legs etc.
When gaining muscles, the scale isn’t going to budge because the reality is muscles weighs heavier than fat.
Sometimes the scale might even go up and you feel all demoralise again and feel like you have failed which is utterly not true. Focus on the lifts, your deadlifts, back squats, strict presses, rows etc. Week by week are you lifting heavier? Do you feel stronger? That is a better scale than the damn weighing scale. Does your clothes feel less snugged? Ooo, is that a booty pop I see?
Oh, and 1 more thing.
Eat real foods and don’t be afraid of carbs!
Thank you for reading till the end. If you have anymore questions. Please hit me up here or on Instagram @bernsthefitnerd
Have an amazing day!!