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The Best Carbs to Eat Before & After a Workout

Carbs often get a bad rap, but when it comes to supporting your exercise, diet, and fitness goals, complex carbs are your best friend and by choosing the right types of carbs at the right times, you can enhance your performance and recovery leading to greater results, faster!

Understanding Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the three primary macronutrients, alongside protein and fats. They often get blamed for weight gain, but this is usually due to the consumption of refined, simple carbs found in processed foods like sugary cereals, white bread, and pastries. These types of carbs lack fibre and essential nutrients, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar, which over time can increase the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

In contrast, complex carbs are your body's ideal fuel source for physical performance. Found in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, complex carbs are digested slowly, providing a steady release of energy without causing blood sugar spikes.

The Best Carbs to Eat Before a Workout

For optimal performance, you should focus on consuming complex carbs about one to two hours before your workout. This timing allows your body to break down the carbs and provide a steady stream of energy throughout your exercise. Here are some great complex carb options to fuel up with:

  • Rolled oats

  • Buckwheat

  • Whole-wheat bread

  • Lentils and beans

  • Whole-wheat pasta

  • Blueberries, raspberries, and apples

  • Potatoes

The Role of Simple Carbs

Simple carbs can also play a role in your pre-workout nutrition, especially if you need a quick energy boost. Since they are digested and absorbed quickly, consuming simple carbs 30 to 60 minutes before your workout can provide an immediate energy source. Just remember to choose healthier options like:

  • Bananas

  • Fruit smoothies

  • Rice cakes

  • Dried fruit

The Best Carbs to Eat Post-Workout

After your workout, it's crucial to replenish your energy stores and kickstart the recovery process. Carbs help replenish glycogen stores in your muscles, while protein aids in muscle repair and growth. Aim to consume a mix of carbs and protein within an hour of finishing your workout. The best post-workout snacks include:

  • Grilled chicken with sweet potatoes

  • Turkey breast with quinoa and vegetables

  • Whole-wheat toast with avocado and tofu

  • Greek yogurt with berries and granola

  • Brown rice with black beans and steamed broccoli

  • Quinoa with asparagus and edamame

  • A smoothie bowl loaded with fruits, greens, veggies, and a scoop of protein powder

Wrapping Up

Carbs are your body's optimal energy source for any physical activity. By choosing the right types of carbs at the right times, you can enhance your performance and recovery leading to greater results, faster!

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