I used to have an irrational fear of carbs. Before workouts I never wanted to feel heavy because I figured it would slow me down so I wouldn’t eat very much leading up to my training. If I trained in the morning I would eat an apple or some berries only before. Looking back, I know for sure I was not fueling my body nearly enough for my workouts, but would somehow get by on physical and mental strength alone. Whereas now I have the proper amount of food in my system to sustain my training, I realize previously I was working so much harder to keep my energy level up. Flexible eating has allowed me to introduce more carbs into my diet without that irrational fear that I will get fat. Really, I can eat my carbs morning, noon and night and still fit them in my macros without any problem. However, I have noticed that the timing my carbs around my workout has given me that added edge that I have been lacking. I still desire that feeling of being light going into a workout, especially on days where my training is heavily focused on body weight…no pun intended. BUT, I have come to accept the fact that carbs are more my friend than enemy when going into a workout. It’s just about portion control and timing.
I have been referring to Krissy Mae Cagney’s advice for pre-workout carb timing and digestion to make sure I’m using my carbs to my advantage. In general, I try to follow the rules below…
Time Before Training
90 – 60 minutes: Carbs with some fats
60 – 30 minutes: Combo of slow and fast digesting carbs
30 – 0 minutes: Fast digesting carbs (i.e. fruits) only
My FAVORITE pre-workout carbohydrate is oatmeal. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this but when I was strict paleo, oatmeal was my “cheat” meal when I would go out to breakfast. And I’m talking once every 3-4 months. Now I’m eating oatmeal at least 3 times a week and I’m the leanest and strongest I’ve been in my entire life, fitting into my skinny jeans better than ever. No brown sugar, no raisins, no milk. Just plain oatmeal. If it fits your macros, and you feel good eating it, go ahead an add toppings to your oatmeal. Peanut butter, bananas, strawberries…you name it. I use Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats because I like the consistency – Boil 1 cup of water per 1/2 cup of raw oats, stirring occasionally on a low simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Once cooked, cover oatmeal and let stand for 5 minutes before eating. I even take my oatmeal on the go with me to work and eat it cold. Weird I know, but I love it that much.
For those tracking macros – 1/2 cup raw oats (then cooked) – 150 calories – 27C/2.5F/6P
There are lots of different ways to get your carbohydrates but they’re mostly found in starchy foods like oats, flours, rice, potatoes, yams, quinoa, wheat/grains. You might also be shocked at the amount of carbs that you will find in fruits and vegetables, so pay attention when choosing fruits especially to fit your macros. Obviously foods high in sugar, such as juice, soda, candy and other sweets are high in carbohydrates, but not desirable for fueling your workout or overall general health. Lastly, nuts and dairy have carbs but in minimal amounts.
So the bottom line is don’t be afraid of carbs, just be smart about your choices of which ones to eat and when you eat them to fuel your workouts. And if you’re eating carbs for fun, just make sure they fit your macros 🙂