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3 carb meals you should eat for training performance

3 carb meals you should eat for training performance

August 20, 2023 3 min read

3 carb meals you should eat for training performance

Different carbohydrates have a different impact on training and recovery, here’s how to choose the best carb foods for your workout goals.


Are carbs important for training?

Carbohydrates sometimes get unfair treatment in the fitness realm, with people wrongly suggesting carbs are fattening, addictive, or unhealthy. The truth is, carbohydrate is the body’s favourite form of instant energy. So if you want to train hard and see results, carbs should really be in your diet in one way or another.

But with so many different types of carbohydrates to choose from, it’s important that you know your carbs.


Why do carbs help with training?

Your body needs energy for training, and although all macronutrients have energy (calories) the body prefers carbohydrates. This is because carbohydrate is more efficiently metabolised by the body and is broken down faster than fats or proteins, making it particularly important for intense bouts of training.


5 reasons to eat carbs for fitness

1. Carbohydrate fuels both the muscles and the brain

2. Eating carbs for energy is “protein sparing” and protects muscle tissue

3. Carbohydrate is broken down quickly so the body can access the energy

4. Carbohydrate supports training intensity, muscular endurance, and lifting heavy 

5. Consuming carbs around training also contributes to post-workout recovery


What are the different types of carbohydrates

There’s a big difference between eating slow-release carbohydrates and sugary fast carbohydrates, and you need to understand when (and why) both are relevant for training.

There are three main types of carbohydrate foods:

Sugars (simple carbohydrates) – glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, and other sugars. Foods in this category include fruits, vegetables, honey, dairy products, and obvious things like table sugar, sweets, and candy.

Starches (complex carbohydrates) – foods in this category include grains, legumes, beans, roots, and tubers. 

Fibre (complex carbohydrates) – foods including whole grains, fruits, veg, and legumes.


Best carbs to eat before training

Although the food you eat before and after training makes a big difference, you should be thinking about your entire diet as a way to support training and recovery. Make sure you are eating enough carbohydrate (at least 3g per 1kg bodyweight) throughout the day, mostly complex carbs from healthy food sources.

About 60-90 minutes before training, have a meal with complex carbs, low fat and relatively low in fibre. Some ideas are banana and a protein shake, eggs on toast, a chicken wrap, fruit, and yoghurt.


Should you eat during training

If your training session is over an hour, or especially intense (high intensity, explosive activity, heavy lifting) you should take in some carbohydrate during training. Make sure this carb choice is simple, fast-digesting carbohydrate like sugary sweets or candy (zero fat), or a carb drink with no fats or fibre. The amount of carbohydrates you’ll need during a workout will depend on workout intensity and duration, but studies recommend 3-5g carbs per 10kg bodyweight per hour.


Best carbohydrates for post-training recovery

After training, prioritise high protein and moderate carbohydrates to support muscle recovery. If you’ve got your pre and intra workout nutrition right, you won’t need to desperately stock up on carbohydrates. So just return to the normal amount of carbohydrate you’d have in a meal, but choose healthy sources like rice, potato, root vegetables, or pasta.


Do you have to eat carbohydrates for training?

We all know that person who swears they get great results from training fasted or doing a super low carbohydrate diet. And whilst it’s true that your body can take energy from fats or proteins, it’s not the optimal way to fuel your body. 

Experiment with different ways of eating, different carbohydrates types and food choices. The best way of eating is one that works for you, makes you feel energised and sharp, and is sustainable. But don’t shy away from carbohydrates – yes, even the simple, more sugary ones – without giving them a chance first.

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