What do you know about fast and slow carbohydrates?
What is carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the same organic matter as fats or proteins found in our daily food. They are also called sugars, but this is a more scientific term. Although for the purposes of an allegory, we can say that the sugar that you add to your tea or coffee is a bright representative of carbohydrates. Also, there are other sugars in nature, such as fructose or lactose. The former are mainly found in fruits, while the latter are found in milk. However, they all fit the definition of carbohydrates.
The importance of the intake of carbohydrates in the human body is extremely high and, one might say, it is vital. So, all these sugars that enter our body with food, under the influence of the digestive system, break down to the level of glucose. Glucose is, so to speak, the initial state of carbohydrates at the molecular level. We will not dwell on this in more detail. But it is important to understand the following that she is energy for our brain, and if we experience a strong lack of glucose in the blood, then, you yourself understand that this is, to put it mildly, not very good …
There’re different types of carbohydrates
If you look at different types of carbohydrates under a microscope, you can see that their molecular structure is very different from each other. So, they can consist of both one molecule (simple carbohydrates) and several (complex). Representatives of the first category are monosachorides, from the word “mono” – one. Carbohydrates, consisting of several molecules – respectively polysachorides, from the word “poly” – a lot. They all differ not only in structure, but also in assimilation by our body. So, if you “eat” glucose, then it will immediately begin to be absorbed into the bloodstream, while fructose needs more time for this process. It will first go to the liver and only after that it will enter the bloodstream, having previously “converted” into glucose. Although it is worth noting that both glucose and fructose are representatives of monosachorides, as you can see, they act in different ways.
In general, if you understand in detail what carbohydrates are, how they differ, how they are absorbed, etc., then you can write a whole book about it. We will do otherwise, and classify carbohydrates, as is customary in everyday life and in sports, especially, into two large groups – fast and slow carbohydrates. Next, we will talk about each of them in more detail and analyze what is the difference between the first and the second, as well as when it is better to use one, and when the other. Let’s start with the quick ones.
Fast, or as they are also called simple carbohydrates, are those that consist of only one or two molecules, that is, monosachorides, if we speak scientifically. The brightest representative of fast carbohydrates will be ordinary sugar, it contains two molecules – fructose and glucose. We will not list all foods rich in fast carbohydrates, but only summarize this group. Almost all of them have a sweet taste, that is, they are various sweets, fruits and confectionery.
Fast carbohydrates are so called because they are very quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, literally immediately after taking a product containing them. However, they are also quickly utilized by our body. In general, such carbohydrates are the number one enemy of a person in nutrition, but after fats, of course. Both one and the other can cause obesity and worsen human health by an order of magnitude. In principle, everything is clear with fats, but how you can get better from carbohydrates is an interesting question.
The fact is that when carbohydrates enter our body, insulin begins to be produced in the pancreas. This hormone “monitors” that too much glucose does not get into the blood, otherwise it is fraught with its thickening. Naturally, we cannot measure the exact amount of carbohydrates from food in order to give our brain the necessary amount of glucose. Its excess appears. What is happening to him?
The role of insulin
Insulin starts transporting glucose to our muscles. Getting into them, it increases the internal energy of the muscles and, by the way, slightly increases their size, as it stretches the cells. This is a good bonus. But muscle reserves are also not unlimited. And if they are already filled, then the worst happens. Under the influence of insulin, glucose is converted into fats and deposited in our skin and fatty tissue.
This explains the fact of excess weight in people leading a passive lifestyle. Since their muscles practically do not experience stress, therefore, they do not need energy and insulin transports all glucose to subcutaneous fat. It is because of this that nutritionists are advised to reduce to a minimum in their diet foods rich in fast carbohydrates.
But what is all the same their use, they cannot be absolutely not suitable for use? That’s right, there is some benefit. We will not analyze it at the level of nutritional value. But consider it from the point of view of recovery processes in sports and in bodybuilding in particular.
Naturally, an athlete’s diet should practically exclude fast carbohydrates. But there are times in our sports life when such carbohydrates are simply necessary. So, after a hard workout, when our muscles are depleted and the body is very tired, we need to urgently replenish energy reserves. This is where carbohydrates come to the rescue with a fast absorption rate. This period of time is not without reason called the “carbohydrate window”. The fact is that within about half an hour after the end of the workout, the body, due to its characteristics, absorbs glucose as quickly as possible. And sends it in the form of glycogen to the “energy store”. This technique helps athletes to quickly restore their energy level and thereby quickly start the processes of muscle growth and recovery. And rest assured that not a single gram of glucose, if taken after exercise, will not go into fat.
These are the pros and cons of fast carbs, my friends. What is more and what is less can be seen with the naked eye. However, if we use it correctly, this can be reduced to one big plus. Remember this.
The second large group, into which we conditionally divided all carbohydrates, are slow or, as they are called, complex carbohydrates. This species already consists of more than two molecules and are more complex organic substances. The role of slow carbohydrates in the athlete’s diet is more important and significant than the role of fast ones. If we try to protect ourselves from fast carbohydrates as much as possible. Then slow carbohydrates should form the basis and most of our diet. Especially if we are trying to gain muscle mass. The category of products containing these carbohydrates includes various types of cereals, potatoes, non-rich bakery products, as well as representatives of legumes – peas, beans, etc.
Unlike fast carbohydrates, this group of carbohydrates is absorbed into the bloodstream at a much slower rate, but more evenly. Accordingly, the overall energy level of the body is kept at a stable level for a long time. Insulin slowly “delivers” glucose to the brain and muscles, according to their needs. While often its excess is not observed. So the fat reserves of our body are not replenished.
Why we need slow carbohydrates?
As for their use, then everything is not as simple as with fast carbohydrates. It is logical to assume that it is worth consuming carbohydrate foods before training to provide yourself with energy for the entire training period. However, this is not quite true. Strength training does not consume pure glucose. He draws it from the energy reserves of our body – glycogen. Glycogen is a kind of conservative of carbohydrates. Which collects them in the liver and keeps them in reserve in case of extreme loads. Which is weight training.
Glycogen stores are collected gradually, over several days, from the moment they are empty. Therefore, it is important to consume slow carbohydrate not only on the eve of training, but throughout the day too. In general, your entire diet should consist mainly of such carbohydrates, since with regular exercise, glycogen stores will also be regularly consumed. Which will also need to be replenished on a regular basis. In other words, you should always eat slow carbohydrates. To fully compose your diet, use the table of glycemic indexes of products. The lower this index, the more complex the carbohydrates contained in these products and the slower their absorption and the better their quality.
This is probably all the bodybuilding enthusiast needs to know about carbohydrates. Remember the basic rule of our sport – remove fast carbohydrate from your diet, prioritize slow carbohydrates! The role of the former is important only after training, while the latter are necessary for you all the time.