Posted by Stephen Powers

In today's world of trendy diets: low fat, no fat, high/low/no carb, caveman eating (whatever that means), it can sometimes be hard to decipher what is best for your fitness goals.

Today, we clear up a particularly nagging question: Are carbohydrates beneficial? Well in this blog we will share what they won't tell you about eating carbs. We will also be adding a great article extension explaining High GI Carbs. What they are and how to use them =)

Up first, we determine if carbohydrates are evil or not. And the answer is, maybe. GOTCHA!

For active healthy individuals, carbohydrates can be your friend and long term energy source and in most cases can be leveraged as a great form of recovery. One could easily consume in excess of 300g of carbs per day without much fat storage - Assuming the carbs come from single source ingredients such as rice, potatoes, quinoa, fruit, etc.

That being said, as a many things in life, there is no black and white answer, but they wont tell you about eating carbs can actually aid in many helpful bodily functions.

Side Note - [In the case of a diabetic, one would certainly try to avoid an excess amount of carbohydrates; more specifically, high glycemic index carbohydrates.]

Since we're discussing the benefits of carbs, we'll focus on healthy individuals participating in vigorous exercise multiple times a week. Below are what I consider to be the top three benefits that carbohydrates provide to your body:

  • Replenish glycogen storage: During intense exercise, your body must utilize an energy source to contract. This energy typically comes from a local energy source known as glycogen. This energy is derived directly from the carbohydrates your body processes. The more glycogen in your system, the more intense, and longer in duration, your workouts.

  • Lower stress: Intense exercise creates stress for your body. In response to this stimulus, your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone that can be beneficial in small doses; however, constant levels of high cortisol have a detrimental affect by way of damaging inflammation. Large doses of carbohydrates help to release serotonin, a relaxation hormone. This hormone lowers cortisol to help your body recover from the stress.

  • Better sleep: Expanding on our previous note, large doses of carbohydrates greatly boost serotonin. This hormone allows you to sleep much deeper. Better sleep means an improved fat metabolism response, less inflammation, higher cognitive functions, fewer afternoon crashes, etc. This benefit is fairly obvious, so we won't delve into the exact science behind hormone control in the brain!

Long story short: Assuming you have EARNED your carbohydrates (by busting ass in your training sessions), feel free to enjoy those potatoes or rice!

But wait....Are all carbs equal? We know better.

How To Carb Healthy