Is Butter A Carb? (and other important carbohydrate facts)

Hi everybody! I slept my alarm for the fifth and final time this week…so I’ll be working out later today. I’ll post my newest workout tomorrow because I think it’s gonna be a good one! Plus I have some new incredibly silly shirts that I’m excited to show you all πŸ™‚

Last night I got more exciting news: I’m now an I’m FitPossible Ambassador! I’m just ambassador-ing all of the place these days. It’s super cool to be a part of a global fitness community that promotes health and wellness! Check back often for product reviews, events and general musings while I team up with #sweatpink and #imfitpossible! Click on the sidebar badges for more info πŸ™‚

So…I want to talk about carbohydrates. The other day in my ED support group a few members were discussing fear foods and carbs and grains were among the most feared across the entire group. Been there. Believe me. With all the hype out there about low carb, no carb, grain free, gluten free, blah blah blah, it’s no wonder there is confusion!

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I lived a long time with very few carbs in my life. I remember going to dieticians and trainers and being told to eat more carbs. All I heard was “we want to get you fat!” I was tired, moody, and irrational for many years. Until not too long ago, I told Roberta (my fab dietician) that I was eating a little peanut butter or protein shake before a workout and was feeling really tired by the end of my sweat sesh, and sometimes couldn’t even finish. She gave me a quick nutrition lesson on the importance of carbs before a workout and I (begrudgingly) gave it a try. I couldn’t believe how much stronger and more focused I was throughout my workout with only an added banana or slice of toast ahead of time. It was pretty amazing, so I decided to do more research and started slowly adding more carbs into my diet. My muscles are happy, my brain (mostly) functions well, and my mood is considerably more stable. Oh, and I didn’t get fat. And I get to eat bread, pasta, beer…life is good.

I’m no dietician, but as a fitness professional, it is my responsibility to have a basic understanding of exercise metabolism. Here’s the deal in a nutshell: carbs are energy. Really effective and efficient energy. Our bodies need a constant supply of energy in order to use our brain and muscles for endurance and stamina. When carbs are metabolized in the body, the end product is called “glucose”. Glucose is either used as energy immediately, or stored (called glycogen). Glycogen can be broken down and used for energy during longer and/or more intense exercise. “Glycogen stores are a readily available source of energy to support the demands of physical activity and exercise. How quickly glycogen stores might be depleted depends on the duration and intensity of the exercise. For low intensity exercise (distance running etc.) glycogen stores can last as long as 90 minutes. For prolonged high intensity exercise, glycogen stores can provide energy for approximately 20 minutes.” (source) Protein and fat are not able to used for immediate energy like carbs. Some research shows that energy from carbs can be released 3x faster than protein or fat.

Protein and fat are much more slowly absorbed by the body, meaning they are better at keeping us full and satisfied, but not so good at providing immediate energy. Carbs, on the other hand, are REALLY good at that. That’s why carbs are great before a workout and protein is great after to help repair and build muscles.

Also: “glucose is essential for the central nervous system. The brain primarily uses glucose as its energy source, and a lack of glucose can result in weakness, dizziness, and low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). Reduced blood glucose during exercise decreases performance and could lead to mental as well as physical fatigue.” (source)

If you want strong, sexy muscles, you need to lift weights. If you want to lift weights, you need energy. If you want energy, you need carbs. Simple as that. Eat carbs. Go. Do it. Now.

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I’m not sure what started the whole low carb frenzy, but the miracle weight loss as a result of low carb diets is water weight loss. That’s it. Sure, not all carbs are created equal. Whole grains, fruits, and starchy veggies are more fiber rich and provide more nutritional bang for your buck than white sugar. But seriously, stop fearing carbs. They’re delicious. Just like anything else that’s fabulous in this world, moderation is key.

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THIS is a great article on Bodybuilding.com about the importance of carbohydrates for a fit body if you’re craving more info (or more carbs).

That’s it for me. I ate a giant bowl of oatmeal while writing this post, so you know it’s good!

xoR

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11 thoughts on “Is Butter A Carb? (and other important carbohydrate facts)

  1. Agreed – carbs are incredibly important.

    However, I think it is important to specify the type of carb that is healthy and the type that isn’t.

    You have to consider that with a LARGE portion of the human population having issues with gluten/wheat, are grains (as carbs) really a the vital part of human energy production. I would say no, but I am extremely biased.

    I think the focus should be on good quality, anti-inflammatory carbs, such as fruit, vegetables,and nuts. Yet, I think if we, as fitness professionals, can get our clients to just switch from the horrific “white carbs” – white breads, cookies, rice, potatoes – and switch over to brown foods, then we have given them a good place to start.

    πŸ™‚

    mmmm…butter

    • There’s a ton of controversy around the actual prevalence of gluten/wheat intolerance, which is why I did not touch on this a ton here. Like I said, I am not a dietician, so this is information purely for fitness based nutrition. I am just trying to decrease the amount of anxiety around carbs and promote a well rounded diet.

      • Absolutely. I try not to promote my personal lifestyle (paleo) to clients because it is still a controversial way of life and one that can be quite shocking and scares the heck out of people…LOL! I think that too many people push the “no carb” agenda and that isn’t what fitness pros should be doing. I see it all the time, PT’s telling their clients to not eat any carbs. Um, hello, that’s not the answer!!! Carbs are definitely not the devil. It’s quality over quantity. πŸ˜‰

      • one time I overheard a trainer tell a very hungry-looking girl that she should drop carbs and increase kale to lose body fat. I actually almost punched him in his stupid face.

  2. Ughhh carbs. It’s like as soon as you bring up the word people are on edge about what you’re going to say huh? I think compared to the general public I probably follow what most people would consider a lower carb diet but based off of my calculations for what I need for the day I’m right on point. I just don’t eat a lot of breads, crackers, etc and get my carbs from fruits and veggies which I’m find with because I don’t think they really have too much benefit to my nutrition anyways. Although, I’d really love to sit down with a loaf of french bread and butter and just go to town….but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant ;o)

    • You know what really gets me – those cheddar bay biscuits from Red Lobster. OMG!! they are so good. Which is why I no longer go there. LOL!

      Oh, the bread sticks from Olive Garden, with the butter and garlic on them….*drool*. Another place I don’t go to. Bwahahaha!

  3. Great post! I’m really bad at eating anything before short run or lifting days (because those start at 4:45 am) so I count on my glycogen stores to be ready. But on long run days i carb up with some dry cheerios before, and then take in some GUs every 45min-1hour (25g carbs woo!)

    • You should really try to eat something, especially before lifting! Your muscles need some energy! I’ll sometimes grab a piece of protein bar or some crackers and pb!

  4. Love this post – super informative! There really is so much misconception and misunderstanding about what constitutes as a ‘carb’. Pre workout, I’ll often for a banana pre workout too – who’d have thought a banana would count as carbs? I certainly didn’t until recently! I think Irene is right, the focus should be on ‘good quality, anti-inflammatory carbs’. (Good) carbs are NOT evil!!

    • I agree! Cutting out whole food groups is really not ideal, but picking real food over refined food is a more conscious choice! That being said, sometimes a girl needs a damn cookie!

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