Carbohydrates have an especially important role in providing the energy needed for exercise and life. Carbs are the most easily used source of fuel for your body and can be found in fruit, vegetables, grains, beans and dairy products. Carbs are also important in the metabolism of fat for energy.
Fat, protein and carbohydrates provide the building blocks of our body. All three macronutrients are important for optimal functioning. All of our energy for daily functioning and exercise comes from what we put into our bodies.
Of the two types of carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates are more easily broken down which can lead to blood sugar swings. Examples of simple carbs include cookies, candy and white bread. Complex carbs are the more desirable carb. They are higher in fiber, more nutrient dense, more filling and digest more slowly, providing a slow and steady release of energy.
As carbs are digested they are either stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver to use as fuel for exercise and normal daily activities, used for immediate energy needs or converted to fat. These necessary macronutrients provide 4 calories per gram and should make up about half of your daily calories.
Not only is eating complex carbs before physical activity important but after exercise, consuming carbs helps replenish your glycogen stores and enhances recovery. (Protein is also important for recovery. Try consuming a 3 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein post workout) Carbs may also play a role in mental health. Carbs are important in the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone that scientists believe impacts depression.
I know with all the low carb diets out there, carbs have been getting a bad rap in the last few years but for optimal physical and mental health, try including multiple sources of complex carbs a day in your diet.