“Fast digesting carbs can help you reach your fitness goals.”
Did you ever think you’d read that statement? More than likely, you’ve heard that carbs are bad for your health. It’s certainly not uncommon for carbohydrates to get a bad rap these days, especially with the prevalence of no-carb or low-carb products on the market as well as popular diets that proclaim the need to eliminate or restrict carbs.
To be fair, it should be noted that carbs certainly can have some negative side effects. For example, if you eat too much of them or consume them at the wrong time, they’re likely to cause weight gain and thwart your weight loss efforts. Or, if you have diabetes, certain carbohydrates may make it difficult for you to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
But, let’s go back to our opening statement and take a closer look at how fast digesting carbs can actually provide some useful benefits. First, we’ll look at what they are. Then, we’ll dive into when and how to use them effectively.
What Are Fast Digesting Carbs?
Fast digesting carbs are carbohydrates that are ingested and then quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Otherwise known as simple carbs, they provide the body with an insulin boost and a quick burst of energy.
How does the process work? When carbohydrates are eaten, your digestive system breaks them down into simple sugars which are then released into the bloodstream. Foods are rated by how quickly these sugars are released and how fast they increase your blood sugar levels.
High glycemic foods raise blood sugar much faster than low glycemic foods. Since fast digesting carbs raise blood sugar quickly, they fall into the high glycemic category.
When Should You Use Simple Fast Carbs?
If you’re a seasoned athlete, you likely already know that what you eat after a workout can significantly affect what that workout does for your body. Choosing the right carbohydrates to eat post-workout is essential for speedy recovery, muscle building, and fat loss.
While you may steer clear of eating simple carbohydrates during other parts of the day, consuming fast digesting carbs within one hour after a workout can help replenish depleted glycogen stores in your muscles. Another added benefit is that these carbs stimulate insulin release. Since insulin is a hormone that promotes tissue growth (including muscle), this can aid in your efforts to build muscle.
Examples of Fast Digesting Carbs
Now that you know what fast digesting carbs are and when to use them to your advantage, let’s look at a few examples of simple carbs that are digested quickly and absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream:
- Jelly beans
- White bread
- White rice
- Baked potato
How to Choose the Best Fast Digesting Carbohydrates
It’s important to realize that although there are many different fast digesting carbs, they’re not all created equal, nor are they all the perfect solution for a post-workout snack.
Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing the best post-workout carbohydrates:
- Fiber and fat content: Ideally, you’ll want to choose simple carbs that are low in fiber and fat. That’s because both fiber and fat act to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. This prevents the insulin spike you’re looking for in order to get post-workout energy and muscle recovery/building benefits.
- Fructose content: Ideally, you’ll want to choose simple carbs that have a low to medium fructose content. The higher the fructose level, the more of a chance that when it converts to glucose, it’ll be used to replenish glycogen stores in the liver instead of in your muscles.
Foods such as white rice, bananas, berries, pasta, rice cakes, and pineapple can meet the criteria above and be an effective post-workout fuel. In contrast, simple carbs such as candy can also give you an insulin boost but don’t have very many nutrients that your body needs.
Are Fast Digesting Carbs Good For Everyone?
As with almost everything that is nutrition and fitness related, this question must be answered on an individual basis. That’s because every single body is different, people have different health and fitness goals, and also different medical histories.
Someone with diabetes or insulin resistance, for example, should consult with their doctor before implementing a post-workout routine that includes fast digesting carbs. On the other hand, someone trying to lose weight or even maintain their weight must use fast digesting carbohydrates wisely. When too many are consumed, or eaten at the wrong time, the body may turn this excess sugar into fat.
Personalized Nutrition Coaching For the Ultimate Results
At No Limit Personal Training, we believe that there’s no limit to what you can achieve when you put your heart, mind, body, and soul into it. That being said, your ability to reach the health or fitness goals you’ve set for yourself could be limited by your own knowledge and experience. But, that’s exactly where we can help!
We offer private nutrition coaching and personal training programs to help people pursue their specific nutrition and fitness goals that are unique to them. That means no cookie-cutter approaches or one-size-fits-all diet plans. Instead, you get a personalized nutrition or fitness plan that’s built around your specific body, your unique needs, and the exact goals you want to achieve.
Many of our clients also take advantage of the group fitness classes we have as a way to stay motivated and have fun during the process. After all, what’s better than losing body fat, losing weight, taking control of your health, or building muscle? The only thing we can think of is doing it with friends!
If you’d like to learn more about our nutrition and fitness programs, please contact us today. We’re excited to help you learn a sustainable nutrition approach that fits well with YOUR lifestyle and will lead you to long lasting results!
This chart offers a choice of fast-digesting carbs, ideal for post workout insulin boosts. Pay attention to the carb content column to make sure you’re eating enough servings to satisfy your carb needs at that critical time.
Sorbet (1 cup)
Speed note: Buy sorbet, not sherbet, which contains fat. True sorbet is fat free, which means no fat will slow the carb digestion.
Jelly Beans (35)
Fat-free candy is dandy immediately after workouts.
Lemonade (1 cup)
Organic lemonade will contain sugar (or evaporated cane juice), offering more glucose and less fructose than lemonade made with high fructose corn syrup.
White bread (2 slices)
Carbs: 26 g
Speed note: Add jelly and wash down with a post work out protein shake.
Angel food cake (1 large slice, no icing)
Carbs: 32 g
Speed note: Have your cake and eat it too, immediately after workouts,- angel food is one of the few fat free cakes you can find.
Gatorade (20 oz)
Carbs: 35 g
Speed note: Is it in you? It should be immediately after workouts. Some flavors work well with protein powder ( try orange Gatorade with vanilla protein powder)
White Rice (1 cup)
Speed note: Forget your post workout shake and carbs? Make a quick stop at your local sushi joint and get some tuna sushi.
Baked Potato (1 medium)
Speed note: Most white potatoes digest almost as fast as sugar.
Cream of wheat (1 packet instant)
Speed note: This fast digesting breakfast staple is good when mixed with fruit.
Cantaloupe (1 medium)
Speed note: It’s a fruit but its fast digesting-reserve this one for post workout.
Watermelon (1 cup sliced)
Speed note: Also an extremely fast digesting fruit, even more than cantaloupe. Post workout only.
Rice Krispies (1 cup)
Speed note: This fast digesting cereal makes a great post workout snack when eaten with skim milk and with whey added to it.
Couscous (1 cup cooked)
Speed note: It may look like whole grain, but couscous is actually made out of semolina flour- the same fast digesting stuff that pasta is made of.
Bagel (1 medium)
Speed note: Like white bread, plain bagels are great after workouts. Mass gainers can eat them for breakfast, as long as they add low-sugar fruit spread.
Popcorn (3 cups popped)
Speed note: Don’t use butter on your popcorn-fat slows carb digestion.
Also, check out the post on Complex Carbs