It is the time of year where many start a ‘get healthy’ routine. To do this they start to exercise more than what they have done previously as well as paying closer attention to what they are eating. Typically, under-eating is what happens and along with the additional exercise weight loss occurs. This is science. If you burn off more calories than what you are consuming, then you will lose weight.
Energy in < Energy out = Weight loss
Carbohydrates have been seen to be the ‘bad guy’ for many years now. ‘If you eat too much bread, you will get fat’. Due to this, carbohydrates tend to be the first to be reduced in a diet. Just to be clear. If you eat too much of anything and your body doesn’t require the energy there and then, it will be stored as fat. Now, you can argue that for an individual who is sedentary that a diet consisting of a lower amount of carbohydrates could be beneficial but you are not sedentary. You have increased your activity levels, for most it is a big increase. The main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy – energy that you will need for the exercise you have planned.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy
At this point, you are maybe thinking, ‘I’ve reduced my carbohydrates, I’m exercising 5 days a week and my weight is coming down’. This all sounds like you are on the right track, right? One question I would suggest you ask yourself – can I sustain this approach? If the answer is no, change something. If the answer is yes, are you really consuming a diet that consists of low carbohydrates.
The weight you are losing, isn’t just fat. There is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss, but that is for another post. The lack of carbohydrates, over time, will make you feel lethargic, moody, training results can decrease due to the lack of energy, potential injuries can occur, increased ratio of fat to lean muscle can happen. Doesn’t sound good, right?
For most you would be looking at a diet consisting of around 2-4g per kilo of bodyweight. For example, someone who was 80kg, would intake 160-320g of carbohydrates a day, equating to 640-1280 calories per day. This will help to keep your body’s energy levels up and allow you to get the most from your workout. If you are exercising at a moderate/high intensity up to 60 minutes, this may increase to 5-6g per kilo bodyweight. These are just guidelines, and should be adjusted to meet your own needs.
While exercising, unless you are spending a good amount of time doing so, there isn’t a need to be gulping down that sugary drink or taking the gels. They may taste good; however, they aren’t needed and may make your calorie intake higher than your output. For anything up to around 60 minutes, water will do just fine. For activities lasting longer than 60 minutes, a sports drink can help to replace sweat fluid and electrolytes.
Know your sweat rate. Ideally you would weight yourself in the nude before and after exercise. When weighing after exercise, you would pat yourself dry to get rid of any excess fluid/weight. You are looking for the difference in your weight while also taking note of how much fluid you had during exercise. For example;
Start of exercise: 80kg
After exercise: 79.5kg
Fluid consumed: 500mls
Time: 30 minutes
Overall fluid loss would be 1 litre as you have lost 0.5kg in weight but also replaced 0.5kg with the 500mls consumed. Remember 1 litre = 1 kilo. Take the 1 litre and divide by 0.5 to calculate your hourly sweat rate as this was over a period of 30 minutes. In this case the sweat rate would be 2 litres per hour. To fully hydrate, aim to consume 1.5 litres of fluid for every kilo lost during exercise to compensate for fluid lost through urination. Therefore, the end total would be 3 litres of fluid to fully hydrate.
1 kilo is the same as 1 litre
Once you have finished your exercise, you are aiming to refuel the body to recover from your session while preparing for the next session. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) advise to consume a meal consisting of carbohydrates and protein with a ratio of 1:0.5 within 30 minutes of exercise while also consuming a high carbohydrate meal within 2 hours following exercise.
If you are looking to train again in short succession i.e. training in the evening and again the next morning, you should look to start the recovery process as soon as you have finished to help replenish the energy stores within the muscles. Eating carbohydrates with a high Glycaemic Index would be beneficial as they would get into the body quickly.
If you are not training again within 24 hours, then there isn’t a big demand to eat the carbohydrate rich foods.
A big thing to take away from this would be that carbohydrates are not the enemy and if you are an active individual, you need carbs.
If you have any questions of the above or if you would like to give feedback, please feel free to leave a comment of email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking the time to read this.