From the numerous sources of carbohydrates that we derive energy from, some are so-called “fast” and some are called “slow”. If you do not quite understand the concept of the “speed” of carbohydrates, you have come to the right place.
In this article I will cover up some of the reasons why some sources of carbohydrates are “faster” than others and how is it all connected to fitness and bodybuilding.
Glycemic Index ( GI):
It is important to know the Glycemic Index clearly and how the way carbs act after consumption.
Here are a few key points of what GI is:
- GI measures the rate at which carbs gets digested in comparison to pure glucose.
- GI scale ranges from 0 – 100 where the GI is equal to the rate of pure sugar.
- Higher the Glycemic Index higher the spike in blood sugar and insulin and faster the delivery of energy from the carb sources.
- Understanding the GI can help you balance energy utilization in your diet.
Fast Carbs :
Fast carbohydrates are usually the ones with the GI of 55 or higher. The index number represents that after the consumption of carbohydrate sources, they will be absorbed into your bloodstream at a much quicker rate than slow carbohydrate.
Slow Carbs :
Slow carbohydrates are the carbohydrates that release their energy over a longer period of time affecting your blood sugar levels as compared to fast carbohydrate. Eating slow acting carbs can help you maintain a feeling of satiety after eating as your blood sugar levels are being affected steadily without sudden spikes and bursts of energy derived from high GI carbohydrates.
Since slow acting carbohydrates cause less insulin or blood sugar spikes, they can be very helpful in managing your food pattern and preventing binge eating. Example of a slow acting carbohydrate would be fruits or vegetables, nuts, beans, fish, lean meats, healthy oils, reduced dairy products. These foods contain low GI foods, ensuring the slow release of energy over a longer period of time.
Implication To Your Fitness Journey
Now that the basic information is covered, let us come to some implications to working out and fitness. So if you are focusing on getting most out of your workout in terms of strength, it is a good idea to fuel up on certain carbohydrates in order to utilize the glycogen stores as fuel during your workout session. If you are having a regular meal with plenty of slow acting carbohydrates like brown rice, certain vegetables, chicken, focus on leaving your body some time to utilize the energy from these foods. This means that you should not eat a big meal with low glycemic index foods before exercise. Eating a bigger meal around 60 to 90 minutes prior to your exercise should ensure an effective delivery of the energy, providing you the fuel during working out.
However, if you are getting only half an hour before hitting the gym aim for fast acting, high glycemic index foods will work much better in terms of the energy utilization and provision for fuel for your fitness session. An example of high GI food is fruit like pineapple, watermelon, dates.
Replenishing your glycogen stores with a supply of fast digesting protein and fast acting carbs will impact your recovery, muscle growth and repair in a positive way. Here a protein shake with banana or dates becomes useful. Instead of having your steak and sweet potato immediately after exercise let the understanding of carbs and digestion of food help you to your advantage!
Take Home Message
Carbs have been depicted as good or bad over the years, understanding a few simple concepts behind the absorption and efforts of carbs on your body will be beneficial. Also keep in mind healthy carbohydrates options do not just focus on that GI index is a sole indicator of the quality of food. Our body will benefit much more from whole and healthy foods.
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Last modified: June 25, 2017