Why You Need Carbs If You're a CrossFit Athlete
What if someone told you to up your daily carbohydrate intake? Does that spark immediate fear deep down in your so-close-to-six-pack abs?
Well, it shouldn’t!
The media and popular fad diets have portrayed carbs as the enemy for years and years. However, if you are a high-intensity athlete, you NEED nutrient dense carbs and you should learn to appreciate them.
Carbs are not essential to our bodily functions, but they are essential for performance. Carbs are stored in the body as glycogen, which is our most readily available source of energy when doing high-intensity physical activity like CrossFit.
I’m sure some of you are on the keto train and loving your ten pounds of bacon each day (who wouldn’t?!) with zero to few carbs. Yes, your body can learn to convert fat into ketone bodies and use those for energy during a workout. However, this process is less efficient than using glycogen and also takes time for your body adjust to. This means your WOD times will suffer, at least for a period of time.
You should also embrace carbs because they help you recover. Tough workouts stress your nervous system and spike your fight or flight hormone, cortisol. Not addressing this cortisol spike can lead to muscle breakdown and you not recovering before your next WOD. Consumption of carbs post-workout increases insulin which decreases this cortisol response so your body can start rebuilding the muscle you just worked.
Did I convince you to embrace carbs yet?! Just remember, post workout carbs (the good kind and non-processed) help replenish your glycogen (energy) stores, lead to less muscle soreness, and help with recovery by repairing any damage done by that 1RM bear complex you just PR’d.
If performing well is your goal, please don’t cut carbs in the middle of the Open. Carbs are not the enemy. Try to consume 15-25g carbs post workout with your protein shake. Throughout the day choose whole, unprocessed carbs with your meals, such as potatoes, oats, squash, and rice. Experiment to find what works best for your body and your workouts!
Caroline of Macros & Muscles Nutrition.
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