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Carbs are not the enemy that everyone once thought

Carbohydrates are found in a wide array of both healthy and unhealthy foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie. They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibres, and starches.

Foods high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. But carbohydrate quality is important; some types of carbohydrate-rich foods are better than others:

  • The healthiest sources of carbohydrates—unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fibre, and a host of important phytonutrients.

  • Unhealthier sources of carbohydrates include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.

In our diets, these healthy sources of carbohydrates should be our primary source of food energy, with complex carbohydrates covering most our daily intake of carbs. This type of macronutrient takes longer to digest and increases blood sugar levels much more gradually than simple sugars. Vegetables are a great example of a complex carb. This is because they’re low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, and should be the foundation for any clean diet. So the question is now, how much of my diet should consist of carbs? Well that question ultimately depends on your goals. The big no-no would be to cut carbs completely if you are an athlete! To compete at the highest level, they need carbohydrates to give them energy for muscular endurance and strength. Without the macronutrient, they’d simply crash and burn.

The general guide for carbs:

  • Endurance athletes 8 to 10 g/kg bodyweight (e.g., 600 to 750 g for 75 kg athlete) daily]

  • Strength training and other athletes 5 to 6 g/kg bodyweight (375 to 450g 75 kg athlete) daily

  • For fat loss, approx. 2.5g per kg. of body weight is a good starting point. Dependent on carbohydrate tolerance. To be adjusted up or down every 4 weeks depending on how the body is changing

  • Important to maintain 50 to 100 grams daily to prevent ketosis – a period of extremely low carbohydrates.

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