Carbohydrates: How Many and What Type?

Want to hear a 4-letter word? CARB! Scared yet? Don’t be. The truth is that the right amount and type of carbohydrates can be quite beneficial for you. Let’s break it down.


Original source: here.

There are really 3 types of carbohydrates:

  1. Simple sugars. These are found in candy and fruit.
  2. Starchy carbohydrates. These are found in pasta, bread, potatoes, etc.
  3. Fibrous carbohydrates. These are your veggies.

All 3 carbohydrates are beneficial if you use them right. The only carbs that are not beneficial are the processed carbs.

So when is each type of carbohydrate appropriate?

Simple sugars and starchy carbohydrates are right for you immediately after a workout if you are trying to gain muscle. This is the time for them. Why? Because they spike your blood sugar very quickly, and after a workout, that’s a desirable effect, if your primary goal is muscle gain. Why? Because right after a workout, your muscles are in a state of breakdown. And there’s nothing to stop that process quite as quickly as carbohydrates. Yep. Not even the almighty protein stops the muscle breakdown. Protein increases muscle building, but if you don’t stop muscle breakdown (the two processes happen simultaneously), you won’t have the effect you want. That’s why after a workout, the perfect meal will have a combination of starchy/simple carbohydrates and protein. Although fiber and healthy fat is good for you, it’s best to avoid them immediately after a workout. Why? Because they slow down how quickly blood sugar rises.

But what if your goal is fat loss, and not muscle gain? In those cases, the rule is simple: if hungry after a workout, eat. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.

As for fibrous carbohydrates, they are good just about every other time, and it’s equally important for people trying to gain muscle and lose fat.

What about quantities? These are going to be highly individual.

Some people can tolerate carbohydrates very well. They suck. They can live on maple syrup without putting on body fat. These people actually require higher-carbohydrate diets. They crash and burn on low carbohydrate diets.


Original Source: Here.

Other people can just look at a bagel and put on body fat. These people’s limit of carbohydrates should be about 5 licks of a prune, as one of my favourite speakers, Charles Poliquin says. OK, maybe we can be a bit more lenient than that. But really, these folks should emphasize veggies, and save their starchy carbs post-workout.

Fortunately, as many clients who have been through personal training with us know that as your body changes, so does your carbohydrate tolerance. So as you get leaner, you can tolerate more carbohydrates without putting on body fat. How cool is that?

But how do you know when it’s time to start adding in more stachy and simple carbohydrates to your diet? With our clients, we measure them every 2-4 weeks to figure out how their body responds to the extra carbohydrates. And if you’d like to figure out what your unique carbohydrate tolerance is, and how many you should eat for your goals, fill out this form, and we’ll help you figure that out.

Short Summary

  • There are 3 kinds of carbohydrates:
  • Simple sugars. These are found in candy and fruit.
  • Starchy carbohydrates. These are found in pasta, bread, potatoes, etc.
  • Fibrous carbohydrates. These are your veggies.
  • If you’re trying to gain muscle, eat some starchy and simple sugars after a workout, along with protein.
  • If you’re trying to lose fat, eat food when you feel like it.


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