Eat for your purpose: weight loss or better training and racing?
Carbohydrates has been getting a bad rap for many years now. For anyone who has ever been on a diet, it is certain that, at one point or another, carbs was the enemy.
The fear of carbs
The fear of carbs started when various diet plans shunning it stepped into the limelight. Diets like Atkins, South Beach, Paleo (to a certain degree), etc all tell people that if you want to lose weight, then skip the carbs. However, there is something wrong with the thought of skipping carbs entirely without looking at the quality of carbohydrates. All the diets mentioned puts other food in the “yes” list even though it may not be good for your overall health. What if carbs are not the real enemy and you’ve been avoiding it for a long time?
Main functions of carbs
Carbohydrates contribute to very important bodily functions. Without it, the following functions suffer:
- Carbs are the main source of blood glucose in the body
Blood glucose is a major fuel for the body’s cells. Without it, cells do not function at optimal level. Plus, carbs are the only source of energy for the brain.
- Stimulates growth of good bacteria in the gut
Good bacteria is essential for great digestion. Plus, good bacteria in the gut helps us absorb essential vitamins and minerals from our gut for use in our body. This makes carbohydrates indispensible for good digestive health.
- It protects our muscles
Carbohydrates are the first source of fuel for our body and cells. Without carbs, our body will have to look for other sources of protein to support bodily functions. This means the body can use up proteins in the muscles to help the body function properly. We need carbs to help protect muscles.
- Carbohydrates help boost your mood
Carbs help bring up the serotonin levels in your brain. That probably explains why, when you are on a no-carb diet, you feel lethargic, cranky and just moody overall.
Eating for your purpose
Some of you might say “but cutting out carbs helps me lose weight”. Although it might ring true for a short-term diet, you’d still have to ask yourself what is your true purpose for cutting back or avoiding carbs entirely. Is your goal just weight loss or is your goal centered on other things ultimately like being a faster runner, improving your triathlon times, etc. If your ultimate goal is not really weight loss, then losing weight by eliminating carbs can harm your real goals.
Ideally, if you do need to lose weight to race better, the best time to do it is during the off-season, not the race season. Unfortunately, off-season in the Philippines is also the holiday season and that’s why most athletes are struggling to lose weight once race season kicks in.
By avoiding carbs, you won’t be able to recover at your body’s full recovery potential. And knowing that fatigue is cumulative, going days, weeks, even months without carbs means your body doesn’t recover that long.
Focus on eating high quality carbohydrates and other food to help you race well and recover well.
The final word on carbs
Bottomline, carbs are not the enemy. You need carbohydrates for many important reasons as outlined above. But, it is also important to note that not all carbs are created equal. Remember to find good sources of high quality carbohydrates that will fully benefit your body.