What’s a Friday without pizza, right? But with the amount of attention that carbs get, can you eat it? Will one slice RUIN your new year’s resolution to tone up? Will you instantly gain weight? I think it’s pretty safe to say, I freaking love carbs and if you told me to cut them out I would throw a loaf of bread at you. But here’s some more information so you can rest assured make a clear judgement for yourself.

Carbohydrates are found in almost all foods (not just bread and pasta which is what most people cut out when they ‘diet’) and provide 4 calories per gram. (The recommendation is 130g per day).

So what’s the difference between carbs? There are two main types, simple and complex

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES also known as sugar is made up of two sugar (glucose, fructose, galactose) building blocks connected in a short chain. Easy to break down and digested and absorbed into the bloodstream super quick (cue sugar rush). This also means they DON’T FILL YOU UP.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES on the other hand are either a starch or fibre.  Same same as simple carbs in their makeup, but as the name suggests – a little more complex, with three or more sugars connected in a chain that is a little longer and therefore takes more time to break down. This also means slower digestion and absorption, resulting in a more gradual insulin response, and feeling fuller for longer. Complex carbs also commonly contain other things like good fats, vitamins and minerals.  Not so bad after all, hey!

Now when SHOULD you moderate your carb intake? Without carbs maintaining blood sugar, the body starts breaking down protein (lean muscle tissue) into glucose, in order to bring your blood sugar back to normal.  So if you want to lose weight (which in turn means lose muscle) carb restrictions can help (cutting or restricting simple carbs will be most effective). Keep in mind, fat is the LAST thing to break down.

vegan pizza sandwich, anyone?

And when should you ramp up your carbs? If you’re training, exercising, wanting to build muscle (and yes, that includes staying lean), counteract the above. Don’t let the body start breaking down protein into glucose, feed it carbs to replenish your stores when you need it most. And when do you need it most? Right after training! Muscle protein breakdown is at its highest after a workout, hello carbs. The more intense the workout and the more muscle you’re looking to build, the more carbs that are needed.

Bottom line, carbs aren’t bad. They’re part of a balanced diet and while there is no such thing as an ‘essential carb’ like there is protein, meaning they are not essential to your diet – there is also no such thing as BAD carbs.

Throw away the myths that we have like you can’t eat carbs to lose weight (this is more times than not referring to excess SUGAR, not carbs) and that you can’t eat carbs after 6pm…Like your body just goes to sleep and decides it isn’t going to digest carbs anymore?

Go enjoy that Friday pizza!

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