Health & Fitness

When to Eat Carbs: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Performance

Curious about when to eat carbs? We reveal everything you need to know to help your body perform and function optimally.

There are plenty of diets that recommend you limit or even completely cut carbs. We’ve all met someone trying the next latest carb or no carb fad diet. But are carbs really all that bad?

The answer is no – carbs are actually essential for your diet and exercise routine. In fact, a 2017 study demonstrated that race walkers found their performance decline on a low-carb diet.

Knowing when to eat carbs is key for optimal body performance, brain activity, productivity, and a balanced, happy mood. The truth is, when consuming carbs, it’s all about timing.

Eat them at the right times, and they’ll accelerate fat loss and help your body tone. Get the timing wrong or over-consume, and you may sabotage your fitness goals – eek!

Unsure about nutrient timing? We’re here to help you learn how to control your carbs and get the best out of your diet.

When to Eat Carbs

Plan to consume carbs during the right parts of the day and your body will thank you for it. Here’s where to start.

1. Morning

One of the best times to consume carbs is as soon as you rise from bed!

While you sleep overnight, your body fasts and uses carbohydrates stored away, also known as glycogen. When you eat carbs first thing in the morning, your body uses these carbs to replace what you lost overnight.

Try reaching for carbs like steel cut oats, granola, or fruit to start off the day.

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It’s also important to consume protein in the morning and any other time you eat carbs. With the addition of protein, the digestion process slows and ensures that you’re getting enough protein delivered to the muscle cells.

What’s more, protein helps you feel fuller for a longer period to avoid those pesky hunger pangs and sugar cravings many dieters suffer from throughout the day.

2. Pre-Workout

Carbs are crucial to providing energy to your body, so consuming carbs before your workout is a must. These are the nutrients that provide ‘fast acting’ and immediate energy, so are perfect to help fuel your body before exercise.

The more energy you have, the harder you train, after all. You need to top up your fuel stores – that muscle and liver glycogen – so that you’re ready to smash your workout!

Aim to consume your carbs roughly an hour before training and choose food that is in the 150 – 200 calorie range. Avoid anything too dense!

You could opt for the same carb sources eaten at breakfast perhaps, or alternatively try something different. Quinoa, white rice, and sweet potatoes are great options to nourish your body and fuel your workout.

3. Post-Workout

Your immune system craves nutrients after the stress it’s been through during exercise. Glycogen stores are used up and in order to replenish, your body needs a good ol’ loading of healthy carbs in your diet.

What’s more, carbs help transfer insulin to the muscle cells to accelerate delivery of nutrients like protein to broken down muscle tissue. This is critical to help your body recover, especially after high-intensity training.

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So, what happens when you don’t eat carbs post-workout? By neglecting the consumption of post-workout carbs, your muscles will strain to recover as they should. You’ll feel sorer and in pain, and over time you may even lose lean muscle tissue.

When you don’t look after your muscles, your metabolism drops, and further training will be more difficult and tiresome. If ever you need a reason to load up on carbs – this is it!

What to eat post-workout? While the previous options are a great shout, it’s always important to switch up your sources for a balanced diet. So, if you ate potatoes before exercising, enjoy a bowl of oats, or vice versa.

Greek yogurt served with fresh fruit and almonds, or a slice of toast with a banana and peanut butter are other sensible options.

Aim to eat within 30 minutes post-work-out, so your body can work quickly to repair and build your muscles. Remember to add a helping of protein to your carbs to provide the essential amino acids that are needed in the process of recovery.

4. Evening

The evening is a good time to prioritize vegetables along with protein and healthy fats, but it’s also key to learn and focus on when to eat complex carbs.

Many dieters and even professional athletes end up binging during the night if they attempt to restrict carbs or calories throughout the day, so eating healthy carbs during dinner helps curb such cravings.

Complex carbohydrates are more fibrous and are harder to break down. Some examples include chickpeas, butternut squash, black beans, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice.

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Don’t overdo it with the carbs at suppertime though – it’s best to focus on consuming plenty of vegetables. To craft a healthy dinner, start with a plate packed with colorful vegetables, add some protein and healthy fats, and complete with a small helping of complex carbohydrates.

Learning When to Eat Carbs

While it’s important to incorporate carbs into your diet, be sure not to overdo do it. To lose body fat and stubborn weight, cutting carbs is definitely necessary.

Likewise, to maintain a fit physique and healthy metabolism and to progress in training performance, consuming carbs at the right time is crucial. As always, balance is key!

By learning when to eat carbs during the right times rather than the wrong times, you ensure that when you do eat them, they’re utilized optimally. Because you don’t want them sent straight to your cells and stored as body fat!

Control your carbs, and you’ll soon see the benefits to your body and mood.

Any questions about the article? Feel free to contact us!

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