The trend of “cutting carbs”, low-carb diets and the damaging health effects has received plenty of media attention recently. Pairing down the amount of carbs in your diet to help remain trim or shed excess weight may result in putting your long-term health at risk.
Carbohydrates play an important part of our diets and provide energy to our bodies, particularly for muscle repair and gain. This is so important when training with your football team or playing matches regularly. If you’re keen to read around the topic more, browse through our guide below.
The Role of ‘Good’ Carbs in the Body
What’s a carbohydrate? There are three types of macronutrients that form the main part of our diet: carbohydrates, fat and protein. In the carbohydrate category, there is sugar, starch and fibre.
Those who often train and play football matches understandably need more energy to keep their body functioning properly and prevent fatigue. This is where carbs are essential; they’re the main source of energy for both our brains and bodies. When we consume them, they break down into glucose. This is then stored in the liver and muscles and used to fuel our physical activity. It’s likely that you wouldn’t perform as well athletically without carbohydrates in your diet.
It’s especially the case if you focus training on a particular muscle group. You need your body to be equipped to repair and build these muscles. This is where carbs come into play. Glucose (the end product of carbohydrates) allows nutrients in the body to be used to make energy. And this means that the protein in the muscles can focus on rebuilding and repairing muscle tissues.
Bear in mind the difference between “good” and “bad” carbohydrates, however. Eating too much sugar, for example, will be bad for your health; increasing your fibre intake, meanwhile, is likely to have some benefits.
Low-Carb Diets: The Latest Research on Carbs and Fibre
Research on different diets and eating habits is continually being released. This means it can get confusing when we’re deciding what to and not to eat. There is an abundance of recent research, though, that demonstrates the negatives of a low-carb diet.
Results from the Lancet Public Health reveal that eating a low-carb diet can, in fact, shorten your lifespan. They concluded that a 50-year-old participant who consumes less than 30% carbs has a life expectancy of 79.1 years, but this rises to 82 years for someone who eats more than 65% carbs.
One study from November 2018 showed that carbs can play a big part in brain activity too. They found that a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet could go as far as warding off dementia.
Instead, scientists are recommending maximising fibre intake, suggesting that people should be eating at least 25g each day. This can be difficult to get used to, considering two Weetabix only has 3g of fibre in and a thick slice of brown bread only has 2g.
Ways to Avoid Injury During Training
It’s not only your diet that’s important when you train regularly. There are other steps to take to prevent injury:
- Warm up – It’s always a good idea to warm up properly before physical activity. This increases your body’s core temperature, while improving the blood flow to the muscles you’re about to work.
- Stay hydrated – Water can really help fuel your muscles, so it’s important to stay hydrated both before and after you train. Try drinking little and often.
- Rest days — Rest days are equally as important as the way that you work out, as they let your muscles rebuild and prepare for the next workout.
- Treating injuries — Sprains can be common when exercising, as can injured muscles. Often, it’s inflammation that causes muscle pain, so take action quickly with a pain relief gel to reduce the swelling.
As we can see, a low-carb diet – or no-carb diet – can seriously affect your ability to work out and recover properly. Recent research has revealed that alternative dietary recommendations may be a better alternative, such as increasing your “good” carbohydrate fibre uptake. Remember to follow other steps to get the best out of your exercise regime.