So here’s the deal: We need carbs to run. However, all carbs are NOT created equal and here is why.
As endurance runners, we need even more carbs than most people, particularly during training cycles. They are our bodies go-to source for energy and when the glycogen stores are depleted in our muscles, every single step feels harder than the last.
However, NOT all carbs are created equal.
**NOTE: I did not say “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” I’m a big believer in the 80/20 approach to food.**
That being said, all carbs should NOT be treated the same when it comes to running or any other high-intensity training plan.
Some Carbs are More Harmful Than Beneficial
While carbs get all the glory for helping us endure hours of running with minimal pain, the type of carbs you choose should be a big part of that conversation too. Why?
Because the discussion of carbohydrates in training often goes hand-in-hand with the “I’m a runner so I can eat pizza and ice cream since I’ll burn it all off on my long run” mentality.
And that mentality is missing a BIG factor of what is *also* in those latter two options along with the carbs:
The carbs in a graham cracker, pretzels, fruit, and rice are NOT the same as the carbs in pizza, pop tarts, french fries and ice cream because the latter series all come with a TON of saturated fat!
Why Saturated Fat is Bad
Saturated fat does not always get burned off on a run the way a carbohydrate will. (Level of intensity, time & biology all play a factor – source: American Heart Association.)
If it’s not burned as fuel, it can increase your cholesterol and turn to plaque in your arteries. Plaque narrows the arteries, which leads to heart disease and heart attacks.
Been there, done that. Do NOT recommend it.🙅🏻♀️
So enjoy the carbs, but please for the sake of your heart keep an eye on the saturated fat in your choices.
There are LOTS of GI-friendly carbs out there that do not pack the punch to your heart that the “carte blanche” approach to carb loading can.
A Marathoner with Heart Disease