Ginger with leaves

Carbs: The Wonder Fuel

Carbs: The Wonder Fuel

Many women have told me, “Kathy, sometimes after I work out, I’m left feeling depleted of energy to the point that I feel tired and somewhat cranky.” While it could be that you’re pushing yourself too hard, chances are you’re not giving your body the fuel it needs to push through, and recover from, a workout. Specifically, if you aren’t eating enough carbs, that’s what can happen. You need carbs to fuel your muscles and fuel your brain. If you’ve been avoiding them the last few years, you’re going to see some exciting changes in your body, your mind and your mood as you add them back into your diet.

This topic came up when I took a group of 100 people through a new weight loss program I was developing. After one of our weekly hikes in Malibu, more than a few complained they experienced something that went beyond feeling tired for a while after. They felt tense and irritable. Despite the fact that my food program includes a variety of healthy, complex carbohydrates, it turned out that the low/no-carb fad had scared these folks into cutting them from their diets completely. The truth is carbs are the main fuel for exercise, especially if you really want to crank up your workout. I’m talking about complex carbohydrates; luscious fruits, tasty veggies and comforting whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, etc.

You need carbs to fuel your muscles and your brain. When you don’t get enough of this vital energy-filled nutrient, your blood sugar levels (glycogen and blood glucose) dip down so low that your muscles revert to other sources of fuel, like protein found in your muscles. This causes you to get weaker and slows down your metabolism. Not only do you feel fatigued, it also makes it twice as hard to lose weight.

Something else that should make you happy about eating carbs is…they make you happy. That’s right. Carbohydrates help keep the serotonin levels in the brain at the right level. That’s the chemical that helps us with feelings of joy, optimism and calm. And one more bonus, it’s easier to stay focused. If you don’t eat enough carbs, your blood glucose levels stay low, and you’ll have trouble concentrating and feeling alert. As with any other food, stick to the healthier choices most of the time and monitor your portion sizes.

Great Grains To Help You Avoid A Zero-Carb Crash:

– Steel-cut oats
– Qunioa
– Ezekiel breads and cereals
– Amaranth
– Millet
– Hominy
– Spelt berries
– Wheat berries
– Ak Mak whole wheat crackers
– Uncle Sam’s cereal
– Whole wheat pasta