There are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to digest, so they provide you with energy for a longer period of time. This is one good reason why you should be consuming them pre and post workout, along with a good protein source – they will help fuel your workout and allow you to have sustained energy the entire time. Some complex carbohydrate food sources include oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole-wheat pasta. Simple carbs will give you a large amount of energy quickly, because they are digested rapidly, but then you lose the energy just as quickly as you got it. Some examples of simple carbohydrates are candy, sugary drinks, white bread and fruit. If you eat these types of carbs right before a workout, you may feel a big burst of energy, but you also might “crash” halfway through your workout as your body runs out of fuel.
Not having enough carbohydrates in your diet can cause lethargy, weakness, mood changes like irritability, and trouble thinking or concentrating – which are not feelings anyone wants to have! This is why you should make sure you are eating complex carbohydrates (they are not the enemy!!), but the key is moderation and making sure you get an adequate amount based on your individual needs. Everyone is different in the way his or her body processes or handles carbohydrates. According to The Mayo Clinic, about 45-65% of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, and this amount will vary based on things like gender, height, weight, and activity level. Labels for all food products are required to include the nutrition information for that food item, including carbohydrates.
Understanding how many carbohydrates your body needs and which are the best carbs to choose from is important to start learning early on. Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic all over the world. According to McHugh, about 40 million of the world’s children will be classified as “obese” before they reach the age of five (2016). Knowing this astounding fact should just give us more reason to educate children, or people we know with children, about proper nutrition and exercise. Teaching children about portion sizes and choosing long lasting carbohydrate choices coupled with education on exercise and staying active, will give them the proper tools to find balance between intake and output.
McHugh, B. (2016). The Childhood Obesity Epidemic. The Journal of Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, 22(2), 94-97. Retrieved from
The Mayo Clinic. (2016). Nutrition and healthy eating. Retrieved from