By Marcisco Morrison
Anyone who has diabetes knows only too well what happens when you eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels shoot up. How your blood sugar reacts is largely determined by the total amount of carbs in a meal or the snack that you consume. High glycemic carbohydrates lead to a fast spike in blood sugar (blood glucose) and insulin. Low glycemic carbohydrates have a smaller, slower, effect. It, therefore, pays to know when to eat high or low glycemic carbohydrates.
Using the Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index is meant to give you an indication of how fast the carbs are converted into glucose by your body. Two types of foods that have the same carbohydrates amounts can actually have different numbers when it comes to the Glycemic Index.
The smaller the GI number, the less impact the carbs have.
- 55 or below = Low or good.
- 56-69 = Medium count
- 70 or higher = High or bad.
Foods that are closer to their natural state generally have a lower GI compared to processed and refined carbs which count very high. Moderate GI carbs fall in between. Depending on your individual workout or training schedule, you can choose accordingly to suit your goals.
Best Time to Eat High Glycemic Carbohydrates
Immediately Post Workout: Experts recommend this as the best time to consume carbs that are high according to the Glycemic Index (GI). Ideally, most of your high GI carbs daily intake should occur immediately after your training. For example, your post-workout shake should have some high GI carbs and the faster the contents get into your body the better.
Post-Workout Meal: As part of your after training meal, ensure that you also get some high GI carbs. If needed, you can easily adjust the body’s insulin response during your high GI meal by consuming lower GI carbs or fewer carbs.
Best Time to Eat Low Glycemic Carbohydrates
Morning: Your morning meals should mostly consist of low GI carbs, although there is some allowance for a small amount of carbs that are high GI. Overall, your GI count for the morning meal should be between low and moderate.
Before Bed: Body builders and weight lifters were in the past advised against eating carbohydrates rich foods before going to bed because they purportedly would end up getting converted into fat. This is not a fact as carbs before bed are essential for muscle growth. Essentially, because you are fasting for about 6 to 8 hours during the night, it becomes crucial to ensure that your muscles are not getting catabolized for fuel. It is recommended that before bed you eat a slow digesting carbohydrate that has a low GI, ideally combined with extended-release protein.
Pre-Workout: About an hour to 90 minutes before working out, you ought to eat a meal that is rich in protein and low-to medium-GI, fructose-free carbohydrates. Getting the timing correct is important so that your body gets time to not only fully digest the food but convert the nutrients to vital energy.
Besides optimizing your workout results, choosing good carbs sources not only help in controlling your weight but also your blood sugar. Even if you are free of diabetes, consuming carbohydrates-rich healthier foods helps in warding off a host of other conditions that can reduce the impact of your workout. The truth is that in general, low GI foods are the best option but it’s also very important to realize that at times your body will need an immediate source of replacement energy. It all depends on the intensity of your workout or training. For example, if your in a marathon, certainly eating a single apple would really not do you any favors.
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