Carbohydrates for Energy


Carbohydrates are the main energy sources of our body. In this section I will also refer to them as CHO or carbs. By reading this article you will learn more about what the good and not so good forms of carbs are. You can read about the low-carb diets and the importance of the nutrient. This article also shows you which foods contain certain kinds of carbohydrates to greatly improve your health and performance. Because if there is one thing you should get from this article it is that carbs are needed for adequate health and performance.

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What do carbohydrates do?

Carbohydrates are considered the best energy sources of our body. It can be burned more easily as fats and it can be stored for later use. The active form of CHO (carbohydrates) our body uses is glucose. This is a simple sugar that can be used to support the activity of our muscles, organs and brain. In fact, the brain can only use glucose as energy and is also the main user of this sugar.

We use glucose to move and think, but once our body has enough of it to perform these tasks it stores the nutrient. Glucose will be stored as glycogen in our liver and muscles. Because of this, we can also sleep without having to wake up every hour to eat. During the night the glycogen from the liver and muscles is used as energy.

Despite the important role that proteins always get in the fitness world, it is because of CHO that we can lift weights. Now there are different forms of carbohydrates. It goes beyond the goal of this article to go into those different forms. What you do need to know though, is the difference between good and bad carbs.

Simple and Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are usually sugars, such as glucose and fructose. Simple sugars are not the best option, because of the fact that they make the blood sugar levels raise too fast. This puts strain on the body and it is also shown that it can interfere with growth hormones. These hormones are needed to gain muscle mass, but can be ‘sabotaged’ by insulin. Insulin is the hormone that releases when glucose enters the blood stream.

It is a rather difficult concept and I cannot explain this is just a few paragraphs. What you need to remember here is that it is better to not eat too many simple sugars. There are some exceptions of foods that have simple carbs in them, but are still very nutritious.

A better option is to go for mostly complex carbohydrates. Complex means that there are multiple simple carbohydrates involved. These carbs will not increase the blood glucose levels so fast. Apart from that it also gives a steadier amount of energy throughout time.

You probably want to know where your carbohydrates should come from. A good rule of thumb is that you should try to eat at least 2/3 of your carbohydrate intake from complex carbohydrates. The other 1/3 will come from simple carbohydrates. As mentioned before, simple carbs are not necessarily bad for you. You can find a list of healthy foods rich in both simple and complex CHO’s.

What foods should you eat?

There are certain foods that are better than others when it comes to get your carbohydrates. The foods below are all rather healthy choices. I divided them in a simple and complex carbohydrate group. The foods are listed in no particular order!

Simple carbohydrates:
  • Berries, bananas, strawberries
  • Dried fruits such as apricots & raisins
  • Fresh juices (preferably self-made without added sugar)
Complex carbohydrates:
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain bread
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, etc.
  • Non-starchy vegetables: broccoli, etc.
  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Whole grain wraps
  • Muesli, cereals

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