I read an article in the Times this weekend with real interest because new research shows that carbs are not the ‘bad guys’ we may have been lead to believe. Indeed a recent report found that eating wholemeal bread, grains and pulses cuts the risk of heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer. It’s because these foods contain very good sources of fibre which is crucial for healthy digestion.
Carbs are also essential brain and muscle fuel. Our bodies rely on glycogen as an energy source and can’t function properly without out. John Brewer, professor of sports science at the University of London said, “Carbs are the main provider of glucose, which is stored and glycogen, and if you avoid them then the limited stores of glycogen become depleted, meaning physical and mental performance will suffer.”
I’m not making recommendations on diet because I think we all have slightly different tolerances and requirements when it comes to food. However I find that if I cut carbs from my own diet it does not work well. I’m hungry, tired and grouchy and because of that tend to eat more snacks. Recent research in Canada would support this theory. If you are exercising regularly then carbs need to form a part of your healthy diet.
For example I think an oat based breakfast is the perfect fuel for a morning run or walk. Although I accept some people find it is too much fibre! Oat breakfasts provide a form of soluble fibre that feeds the good bacteria in your gut and has been shown to have cholesterol lowering benefits.
In the past two decades our consumption of potatoes has fallen by 40% and yet for evening runners I think the humble jacket spud is the perfect post run dinner! You can pop it in the oven before you go out and then it’s ready when you get out of the shower. All you have to do is add your favourite topping: it’s a great way to use up leftovers such as a dollop of leftover chilli, John and I like ours filled with leeks and cheese or even good old cheesy beans. It’s easy, cheap and satisfying! Did you know that a single jacket potato can contain almost half of a man’s recommended daily intake of vitamin C and B6? Go on, stick a jacket in – it will be perfect for when you get home from your run tomorrow evening!!