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First off, you guys know I’m not a huge fan of excessive carbs. That said, there’s a time and place for everything. Assuming you are lifting weights (something I highly recommend for ALL women) you have a brilliant window of optimal timing post-workout for having a little carb indulgence.
The Right Time to Eat Carbs
Exercise creates a ‘carb-friendly window’ where your body is very responsive to carbohydrate intake. The post-workout period heightens insulin sensitivity. Basically, carbs consumed in the post-workout period, regardless of time of day, are preferentially stored in muscle, where we want them to be (rather than heading through the bloodstream and being stored in the cells as fat).
The big reason for taking in carbs around your workout relates to halting the catabolic processes (basically the breakdown of muscle that results from working out) and kick-starting the recovery process, supporting the development of beautifully sculpted muscles.
The amount of carbs that you eat is largely determined by the amount of energy you expend in your workouts and also throughout the day. If you have a desk job and workout a couple of times a week at moderate intensity, you don’t need that much – I recommend 100 grams or less, but you need to determine that magic number for yourself.
If however, you’re doing a lot of intense workouts, or you’re training for a marathon, then you’ll have the ability to eat more carbs, but please don’t go crazy! You can also train like an athlete on very few carbs, but that takes a methodical approach. I love this book for training on a low carb diet.
Bottom line is that carbs are an “earned energy”. If you eat too many, you will gain fat. This is scientifically proven. That said, you can also gain fat from eating too many calories period, but carbs have a specific impact on the development of fat cells and eating too many can also lead to metabolic disorders.
Moral of this story – always chose your macros mindfully!
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, healthy recipes, home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.