Carbohydrates are often seen negatively in the fitness industry as an unnecessary part of your diet. However, I believe in the power of carbs to my training and maximising my output, so let me break down how it works and showcase what foods you should and shouldn’t eat!

The Process

Whenever you consume a carbohydrate, the carbohydrate in that food or beverage is broken down into smaller units of sugar. The sugar then enters the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar.

This signals the pancreas to secrete a hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to carry sugar out of the bloodstream and into working cells for energy, or into fat for storage. This process provides working cells sugar for energy. Once working cells have had their necessary fill of energy, any extra sugar is stored as fat to prevent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

If you consume a large amount of carbohydrate at one time, insulin may not carry all of that sugar into cells for use, thus, the rest will be stored as fat.

Don’t let this make you run scared! Some carbohydrates are far better than others

Not all carbohydrates are bad! Carbohydrates high in fiber, or with a protein anchor (such as dairy or beans) are digested slower, allowing for a steady rise in blood sugar.

So which carbs get a thumbs up and which get a firm no?

Thumbs Up To….

  • Fruits and Veggies.

High in fiber and packing powerful micronutrients, fruits and veggies in their whole form are always a good option.

  • Dairy

Dairy comes with a powerful protein anchor that slows digestion, allowing for a steadier rise in blood sugar and keeping you fuller longer.

  • Beans

Beans are incredibly underutilized in Australian cooking. Aside from the side of sugar-soaked barbecue beans at summer cookouts, beans go virtually unnoticed, and that’s a shame: beans are high in protein and fiber, making them a great choice for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

  • Whole Grains

Purchasing bread, pasta, or tortillas? Look for “100% whole wheat” or “whole wheat” as the first ingredient, and give a thumbs down to anything followed immediately by “flour” or “white flour”. As for rice, brown is your best option, and oatmeal is always a better choice than breakfast cereal.

Thumbs Down To…

  • Juice and Dried Fruit

While fruit juices, vegetables juices, and dried fruit all sound healthy, they’re very concentrated sources of sugar.

  • Added sugars: honey, sugar, brown sugar, agave, and syrup

Seems obvious, right? However, it bears noting: The average Australian consumes way, way too much sugar. The recommended maximum consumption is 24g per day for women and 36g for men. Our actual consumption is 2-3 times that amount, 22 teaspoons (88 g) per day.

  • White bread, rice, and pasta

Skip refined grains in favor of whole grain pastas, rice, tortillas, and breads. Typically, refined grains are blatantly white, but sneaky product manufacturers will occasionally add some whole wheat into a product containing refined grain (white flour) to give the appearance of healthfulness.

  • Potatoes and Starchy Vegetables

The majority of vegetable consumption in the Australia is still sadly higher Calorie, higher-starch veggies, including corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and winter squashes. Always opt for green and non starchy vegetables, which contain less carbohydrate and fewer Calories.

Carb loading is an integral aspect of my training programs, and can be tailored to suit your training needs! The programming is designed to ensure that you are energetic enough to power through your workout, but also refuelled to complete the rest of your day and ensure optimal body operation post-workout!

Carbs have a bad rep, but if done right they can really make a difference to your energy levels, and help in reaching your fitness goals, rather than hindering them. Find the program for you, and develop your physique through the training methods that have helped me get to where I am today!