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Carbs For Performance

22/06/2017 13:35 BST | Updated 22/06/2017 13:35 BST

Carbohydrate - a simple chain of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms, yet so many of us are afraid of eating them. If only you knew what they really did, maybe you'd be less worried about putting them on your plate....

The three main macronutrients we eat are; proteins, carbohydrates and fats. They all have their own role. Proteins are primarily the raw materials for building your body, but can also be used for fuel if necessary. Fats are used structurally too, as well as, hormones, nerves, brain tissue, and, can be used as fuel for movement. Carbohydrates are primarily used as fuel for movement.

Everyone knows that you can drop body fat by reducing your carb intake. This is obvious. If you remove your primary fuel source your body will look elsewhere to find a fuel to burn. You now emphasise the use of body fat and muscle tissue, and viola you drop weight. This however has a negative side. Losing muscle mass is not really what you want to do to look good, and, it will lower your metabolic rate, which means it's easier for you to gain unwanted body fat back.

So what about performance? To create energy for movement your body uses a mix of fats and carbs most of the time. The problem comes is when you try to exercise beyond about 65% of your maximum effort level. For most people your body is unable to burn fats for fuel at higher intensity exercise levels. You start relying more and more on stored carbohydrate. Most of your gym workouts, runs or sports you partake in are therefore reliant on carbohydrate. If you try to workout hard in a poorly carb fuelled state you will fatigue quickly. When your carb is low you will start to break down proteins as these are easier to convert to sugars than fats are at high intensity.

A poor workout will lessen adaptive responses to training and lessen muscle protein synthesis. A prolonged intense workout without carb will cause excess muscle breakdown. Insufficient carbs post workout will slow your recovery process and lead to less new muscle being made.

To sum up; If you want to train hard, get a great workout, get personal bests, look after your muscle mass, and grow new muscle mass, you should eat carbs. Cutting them too low will make you leaner for a while but long term performance and condition will suffer massively. To quote the head of the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation,Vicky McCann "It's all about carbs for conditioning" and there is not much she doesn't know about getting shredded lean.

Therefore, I'd recommend you try to consume carbohydrates with most of your meals, especially those before, during and after your workouts. If you want to stay lean, look to consume slow releasing carbs like, Porridge, Oatmeal, Brown rice, Sweat potato and vegetables. Look to consume 3-5g per kilo body mass per day.

Ali 'Fat Al' Stewart Keep on liftin'