The carbohydrate debate has endured for very long in the bodybuilding universe, and it is unlikely to abate anytime soon. Among the macronutrients we have, this one is the most misunderstood. Those who are unaware of its functions or importance consider it vile, preferring protein instead. If you know anything about bodybuilding, and by extension health, you can readily appreciate the essence of this energy giving food.
Good Vs Bad Carbs
There are two distinct groups of carbohydrates. This distinction does not emanate from the chemical structure of the carbohydrates themselves, but rather on, they are coupled with other vitamins, minerals and fiber. A distinction based on chemical structure alone brings confusion, and thus is hardly used.
Simple carbohydrates, also called simple sugars are those that have a high glycemic index. They are usually processed, and thus, easily digested, leading to a drastic increase in blood sugar. They are made of either one or two sugar molecules.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are those that have a low glycemic index. They are described as polysaccharides, because their structures are more complex, often consisting of many branched chains. High in vitamins and fiber, these carbohydrates are digested very slowly leading to a slow, steady release of glucose. They are more desirable, nutritionally speaking, and are advocated for by doctors and nutritionists as the better carbohydrates.
From the above, it is obvious that complex carbohydrates are the good kind, while simple carbohydrates are the bad. They are bad because after their quick digestion, a lot of glucose is released into the blood. Consequently, the body reacts by converting the excess glucose into fat, leading to weight gain.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are very slowly digested. Consequently, glucose release is very slow, giving the body an opportunity to use it up. This leads to sustained energy level and delayed hunger. As no much glucose is left to store after digestion is complete, it becomes harder to gain weight.
Best Carbs for Bodybuilding
An avid weightlifter needs carbohydrates. Regardless of whether they are bulking or cutting, carbohydrates remain as one of the most important macros, and should be consumed daily, and ideally, in every meal.
A bodybuilder gains most from complex carbohydrates. As they release sugar slowly, these carbs are ideal for not only intensive sessions in the weight room, but for sustained energy throughout the day. Because they are complexed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are the more superior carbs as they help meet the diverse nutritional needs of the bodybuilder. They should comprise at least 40-50% of the daily diet, depending on what the specific muscle goals are.
Simple carbohydrates are the most abundant, and consist of white bread, white pasta, pizza and doughnuts. Any food that is deep fried, processed, or sold in a fast food restaurant falls in this category.
Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are not as common, and are as close to their natural form as possible. They include sweet potatoes, yams, brown rice, whole grains and whole products such as brown bread, as well as vegetables and most fruits. They are digested very slowly leading to a longer period of satiation.
If you are committed to bodybuilding, you should only eat complex carbs. Their nutritional value is way too important to trade them for the other kind. That said, you should consider taking simple carbohydrates on your cheat day, when you need a carbohydrate load. Even then, complex carbohydrates work as well. So there is really no reason you should have them as part of your daily diet, unless you don’t have any choice.
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