Why You Shouldn't Eat Carbs Before Every Workout
Contrary to common belief, you don't need to carb up before every workout. Get-Fit Guy explains what new research says about the connection between not eating carbohydrates before a tough workout and your overall fitness.
Although it seems like there's a Jamba Juice or smoothie bar at the exit of every gym, and while ads for Powerbar and Gatorade plaster exercise magazines and sporting events, there’s actually a distinct performance-enhancing benefit to not eating carbs before every workout.
A recent article in the European Journal of Sport Science highlights exactly why I will often go into a long workout with no carbohydrates at all; sometimes I'll dive into my routine on just some amino acids or a little bit of coconut oil. The article, "Carbohydrate availability and exercise training adaptation: Too much of a good thing?," highlights data from laboratories around the world that have clearly demonstrated that deliberately training in conditions of reduced carbohydrate availability can actually promote training-induced adaptations in muscle that increase your fitness, including:
- increased maximal mitochondrial enzyme activities for better utilization of oxygen and better endurance,
- increased rates of fat oxidation,
- and improved exercise capacity.
The takeaway message is that you should practice 'train-low' workouts at various points during the week. For example, today I skipped lunch and went for a run about two hours after when I normally would have eaten lunch. It was mentally “tough” and you certainly wouldn’t want to stress your body by overdoing sessions like this, but every once in a while you should send a signal to your body that it can exercise--even if a bunch of sugar isn’t available! When you do this, your body will bounce back with better improvements in fitness and fat burning.
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Fruit smoothie image courtesy of Shutterstock