I recently made the error of engaging in a “discussion” about carbs with a personal trainer. I tried to bite my tongue, really I did! This trainer was advising someone about nutrition and told them that carbs are only needed for recovery post-workout and energy pre-workout; fat and protein are the only essential macronutrients. The logic was that fats and proteins can be turned into glucose but we can’t synthesize amino acids and fatty acids from glucose. And, apparently, the proof lies in the traditional Inuit diet which consisted solely of animal products.
Perhaps there is a lesson here that more people can benefit from. On the off chance that there is, I thought that I would share my thoughts with you too. First, the Inuit diet is not a great example as they also consumed berries, wild plants, and seaweed, basically any plants that were available to them. Also, glucose is not the only nutrient at play when we’re talking about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are also not just in our diet as processed grains and sugar. Fruits and vegetables provide us with carbohydrates as well as fibre, vitamins, and minerals. We need to be careful tossing around the word “carbs” because it can lead people to believe that any food with “carbs” is “evil” and perhaps not just the processed white breads and baked goods that are intended to be demonized (which are still okay as occasional treats). Carbohydrates provide our bodies (including our cells and muscles) with energy. They are also the fuel for our brains. Fibre aids in digestion, weight maintenance, regularity, and can help protect against chronic diseases. Carbs are essential to our health and it’s recommended that 45-60% of our total energy intake come from carbs. The key lies in choosing the right kind of carbs. That means selecting complex carbohydrate foods that are high in fibre and other nutrients and avoiding/limiting highly processed simple carbs. Choose things like fruits and vegetables and whole grains.