The post-workout carb myth: What you need to know
You may not need the post-workout carbs after all! There are many myths out there about the benefits of eating carbs after workouts. Most of them are based on bad science and outdated beliefs. Let’s take a look at some of these myths:
Myth 1 – Eating carbs before or during your workout will make you gain weight.
There is no evidence to support this claim. Research shows that it does not matter whether you eat carbs before or after your workout. However, if you do want to avoid gaining fat, then don’t consume any carbs until your next meal. (If you’re interested in learning more about why this is the case, read Why I Don’t Eat Carbs Before My Workouts)
Myth 2 – Eating carbs makes me feel full faster than when I don’t eat them.
It depends on how much you exercise. If you’re just doing light cardio, then eating carbs might make you feel fuller quicker than when you don’t eat them. But if you’re exercising vigorously, then it won’t make any difference whatsoever. (Read more about why this is the case here)
Myth 3 – I don’t have time to wait around for my blood sugar to rise before I eat my post-workout snack.
If you’re in a rush, then don’t worry about it. Just eat your snack as soon as you’re able. It won’t matter if you don’t wait around for your blood sugars to rise.
Myth 4 – If I don’t eat carbs after my workout, my muscles will start breaking down.
Muscles do not start “breaking down” any faster than they otherwise would. In fact, it’s almost impossible for your body to use muscle as an energy source at all. When you’re in ketosis (which you should be during your weight training sessions), your body doesn’t have the glucose that it needs, which means that it won’t be able to create ATP. ATP is what you need in order to perform muscular contractions. If you can’t perform muscular contractions, then obviously your muscles can’t get bigger or stronger.
Myth 5 – If I don’t eat carbs, my liver won’t be able to produce glycogen.
Your body can still produce glycogen from proteins. In fact, it might even do a better job with them. (Most people eat a high-carb diet, so their livers are used to processing carbs all the time).
Myth 6 – I don’t feel full unless I eat carbs.
If you’re used to eating a high-carb diet, then you’re probably used to not feeling full until you eat carbs. But if you give your body sufficient time to get accustomed to a low-carb diet, your brain will soon adjust to the point where it feels just as full from protein and fat as it does from carbs. It just takes some time for your body to adapt.
Myth 7 – If I exercise on an empty stomach, I’ll pass out and hurt myself.
This one is completely false. There have been numerous studies on exercising in a fasted state. In fact, there are many benefits to exercising in a fasted state that I discuss here.
Myth 8 – Carbs are good for you and essential for your brain and muscles.
Some people who are “anti-carbs” often get very aggressive when they hear that statement. It really depends on how you define “good”. If by “good” you mean that carbs are essential to our survival, then no, they’re not. Some people can live their entire lives without ever eating a single carb and be just fine.
But let’s assume that by “good”, you mean “something that should be part of a healthy diet.” Even then, that statement is up for debate. There are many healthy populations that subsist mostly on animal products and fat. The Inuit (EsKimos) are one of the most famous example, but there are plenty of others, such as the Maasai in Africa and the Australian Aborigines.
There’s nothing wrong with carbs, but there’s nothing “good” about them, either. They’re just food. Everything in moderation. Carbs cause weight gain only because they’re the most easily accessible form of energy, so our bodies convert them into fat very easily.
Myth 9 – Low-carb diets result in osteoporosis.
If your diet is lacking in calcium, then yes, that’s true. But a low-carb diet typically includes lots of high-fat foods (organic butter, cream, eggs, etc.) that are also good sources of calcium.
The point is, on a low-carb diet you don’t need to worry about getting enough calcium because you’re eating more fat, which also provides the necessary vitamins your body needs. The only time you might have a problem is if you’re eating a carbohydrate-based, low-fat diet and not paying any attention to what else you’re eating.
In other words, this claim is only true if you’re doing a low-carb diet “wrong”.
Myth 10 – If I don’t eat often, I’ll go into starvation mode and burn muscles instead of fat.
To some extent, this is true. When you don’t eat for an extended period of time, your body will start consuming glycogen stores (a little extra storage area for carbs) and then move on to consume muscle tissue. However, this won’t happen until AFTER a few days, and it really only occurs if you’re doing something like fasting for an entire week.
This isn’t really an argument against low-carb diets anyway because as I just mentioned, glycogen stores are depleted much more slowly on a low-carb diet than a high-carb diet. So even if you’re not eating much, you’re still not going into “starvation mode”.
10 More Low-Carb Fallacies (debunked)
If you’ve been reading the nutrition news in major media publications over the past few years, you’ve probably heard some of these myths being repeated over and over again. Sometimes it makes you want to bash your head against the wall when you know they’re completely wrong.
Here are ten of the most popular myths and misconceptions about low-carb diets that just won’t seem to die.
Myth 1 – Low-carbohydrate diets are bad for your kidneys.
This is probably one of the oldest myths about low-carb diets. First of all, the concept that carbohydrates are good for your kidneys is a half truth. Carbohydrates do effect the kidneys, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.
Most people believe (including many nutritionists) that a high carbohydrate diet is better for your kidneys than a low-carbohydrate diet. While there may be some truth to this, the problem is that a excessive carbohydrate intake can also be problematic.
It’s all about finding that middle ground and most nutritionists seem to completely miss this fact. Anyway, back to the original myth.
There have been a few small studies that have shown low-carb diets may have a negative effect on kidney function, but once again this only occurs in a small number of people and only for a short period of time. Plus, it has nothing to do with actual kidney failure that would require you to be hooked up to an expensive machine three times a week.
The real problem for most people is that they have a hard time entertaining the idea of cutting out carbohydrates because of their addiction to bread, chips and pasta.
Many people believe that they NEED carbohydrates in order to live a healthy lifestyle, and this is simply not true. Lots of world-class athletes follow a low-carbohydrate diet and they perform amazing feats of physical endurance without any carbs in their system.
Sources & references used in this article:
Post Workout Carbs= Bad by M Di Pasquale – longecity.org
Are You Justifying Your Post-Workout Carbs? by L Lowery – lonman.brinkster.net
What is the Best Post-Workout Meal? by IPWNN So – steelfitusa.com
Top 10 post-workout myths… by D Barr – steroidology.com
Read this…… this applies to high GI pwo carbs by MF Read – ironmagazineforums.com
What Is A Proper Pre, During, And Post Workout Nutrition Diet? by J Randazzo – velofix.com
Maximize Recovery with Post-Workout Nutrition Maximize Recovery with Post-Workout Nutrition by WFSYE While – bodybuilding.com