Low-Glycemic Carbs for Workouts

by James Maynard | March 7th, 2013 | Diet Strategy

oatsMost people who exercise regularly are aware of the fact that carbohydrates can make your body feel satisfied and give you the energy to get through a vigorous workout. Athletes involved in endurance sports, such as marathon runners, will sometimes load up on carbs, in a strategy known as carbohydrate loading, in order to provide their body energy over a period of hours.

But for those of us who are looking for a meal to keep us going over an hour in the gym, and not an afternoon of running, we need to know how many carbs to take in of what type, during our meal.

For most people, a meal consisting of around 70% carbohydrates is usually recommended before working out. For an average sized male, you should aim for about 500 total calories. People who weigh less than about 180 pounds should scale down their caloric intake accordingly.

The fact the carbs help provide you energy throughout your workout should come as no surprise – after all, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of sugars for energy. But, many carbs break down into sugars which provide a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash soon after. This is not good for your exercise routine. Instead, try to eat low-glycemic foods, such as yams, oatmeal, beans, and vegetables before hitting the gym. These foods will release sugar into your bloodstream over a longer period of time, and so they are sometimes called slow-carb foods.

They should be complemented with other foods having some healthy fats, protein and fiber in them, which will help slow the intake of sugar into your system. Protein will also help your muscles avoid breaking down during your workout routine.
A good, healthy, hearty bread, made with whole grains, can be a vital part of taking in healthy carbohydrates before a workout. Pumpernickel and mixed-grain breads are the best. Don’t forget lots of vegetables, such as carrots, peas and broccoli. You may also want to consider a veggie omelet or a turkey wrap before heading beginning your exercise.

The carb-heavy foods which should be avoided include potatoes, white breads and sweets.

Don’t over stuff yourself, either. You want to eat just enough to feel comfortably full, not like you just finished Thanksgiving dinner.

Another advantage to eating a meal high in low-glycemic carbohydrates before working out is that eating these foods can help you stay full for a long time, making it easier for you to concentrate on your workout. It will also help prevent you from needing a large snack right after exercise as well.

The glycemic index (GI) of many foods rich in carbohydrtaes will be listed on the package, or is available online. This is a number between 0 and 100, which tells you how quickly glucose (sugar) will be absorbed into your system. Look for pre workout carbs for have a GI of around 30-40. This will provide your body with energy at a sustainable rate.

Try a low-glycemic carb-heavy meal the next time you work out!

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.