Carbohydrates for performance put to the test…
Over the last few weeks I have experimented with increasing my daily carbohydrate intake drastically. I am a huge advocate of eating a wholefoods diet however I have always limited my carbohydrate intake to vegetables and have never really eaten grains, high carbohydrate wholefoods or even fruits. A high protein and fat diet is – or should I say was – my thing! I had stuck in my mind that carbs were the devil and I would gain weight. Little did I know…
What better way to conduct and experiment than to do it on myself. I am always curious after all. So the challenge was to increase my carbohydrate intake with oats, rice, quinoa, sweet potato and fruit. Let’s make things clear, not all carbs are created equal and this ‘test’ was using wholefood nutritious complex carbohydrates. No refined simple carbohydrates!
So, what have I discovered over the last few weeks? Eating the right kind of carbohydrates is actually very beneficial… Surprise surprise – and nobody was more surprised than me! Not only did it improve the quality of my sleep but it also improved my athletic performance and made my workouts feel a lot more worthwhile and enjoyable.
Over the last six months I had hit a bit of a plateau with my workouts and wasn’t hitting any PBs with my strength training and spinning. Within my first week of eating a high carb diet not only did I hit a PB at Ride Republic with a burn score of 664 but I also hit a PB with my back squats. It has now been 3 weeks of high carbs and I am achieving a burn score of 600+ EVERY CLASS – something I have only done a handful of times over the last year! If that isn’t a result of introducing carbohydrates into my diet then I don’t know what is!
It also eliminated food cravings and reduced my tendency to want to snack. Early mornings are no longer an issue as I wake up feeling energised and ready to take on my workouts! The only thing I have changed over the last three weeks is my carbohydrate in-take, my lifestyle has been exactly the same. With my workouts being more intense, gaining good quality sleep and energy levels being high – it has also resulted in weight loss. Who would have thought so?!
I think the biggest challenge for me was the mental challenge of eating carbs after a few years of telling myself they were the devil! They are most certainly not the devil and good quality carbohydrates will not make you fat. I think it’s great to learn from your own experiences though of course what may work for me may not work for you. But on a personal level I have learnt that good quality complex carbohydrates are a very important energy source and I will no longer be restricting them from my diet.