The Good, the Bad, and the Carbs
Updated: Jun 15
Carbs are good. Wait, no carbs are bad?! It’s confusing times. Here are three myths about carbohydrate busted.
Nutrition science, is nuanced, evolving, and context dependent. Information shared on social media is simplified, generic, and black and white. This has lead to confusion and controversy.
No nutrient has been caught up in this controversy more than carbohydrates. The science and politics of this nutrient has been covered in many books, journals, and videos. This article is not going to try to summarise all that research and claim the perfect answer, but I have picked three common myths in the carbohydrate debate and have attempted to bring balance to those particular issues.
Myth 1: “Sports nutrition is all about eating carbohydrates all the time”
This is not true, and most modern sports dietitians are are well beyond recommending heavy carbohydrate intakes 100% of the time. Carbohydrate intake should be tailored to your individual needs, as well as your overall training goals, not to mention the particular training session you are doing that day.
This is called ‘periodised sports nutrition’. It is not high carb, low carb, or even medium carb, it is ‘smart carb’. Periodised sports nutrition understands that you do not go out and do the exact same training session each and every day, so why would you eat the exact same food and nutrients each and every day?
Myth 2: “If you stop eating carbohydrates you turn into a fat burning machine”.
This is true to a certain extent, but a more accurate statement would be: “If you stop eating carbohydrates you turn into a fat burning machine, but your ability to burn carbohydrates is impaired”.
It is an undisputed fact that the body has the ability to efficiently burn carbohydrates and fat, so why choose just one nutrient to focus on. Periodised sports nutrition allows you harness the power of fat and carbohydrates, whereas restrictive approaches that focus on just carbohydrates or fat will leave you limited to being efficient at burning just one nutrient.
If you stop eating carbs, you miss out on all the benefits of being an efficient carbohydrate burner (which are many, especially if you want to go fast, or up hills). If you continuously flood your system with carbs, you switch off your fat burning system and that does not get trained either. Good sports nutrition is about getting the best of both worlds.
Myth 3: The [low carb camp]/[high carb] camp is wrong and you must do it this particular way
The great thing about all this debate is that we can choose a way that works best for us, but that does not mean everyone else must follow that same diet. Of course, when it comes to health, the general population should be encouraged and coaxed in a certain direction, but at the end of the day you have the freedom to choose an eating style that suits your unique sports nutrition needs.
Some people will choose a lower (or higher) carb intake, and that is fine. The most important thing is to ensure that it fits into your lifestyle, does not get in the way of your event (and health) goals, and your eating style allows you to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
A good sports dietitian can not only help work out what is best for you, but will also listen to your thoughts and adapt and tailor this plan to fit into your beliefs and lifestyle.
If you would like guidance on choosing a nutrition plan that is right for you, get in touch with Trailblazer Nutrition today. We have a range of personalised nutrition packages starting at just $49.95