Don't forget to eat your sugar!

8:11 PM

I've blogged about carbohydrates before; not extensively, but one of these days I'll definitely do a full post about them. For now, we're going to break it down into really simple building blocks for you to digest.

(see what I did there? digest? sugar?…no?…okay.)

There are 2 basic kinds of carbohydrates

One kind of carb is simple carbohydrates, like table sugar, honey, stuff you get in candy bars and sodas and, believe it or not, fruit. Yes, fruit has simple sugars. Fruit is good for you, though, because it hasn't been processed, and the actual process of biting into an apple and chewing it and digesting it burns enough calories that you don't end up storing a ton of fat on your body.
The other basic category is complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs take longer to break down, and there are more parts that are of value to your body, so you get more usable energy from them. Examples of complex carbs are oatmeal, fiber, potatoes, whole wheat or multi-grain bread that hasn't been processed… which basically means anything that lasts for more than three days.

So why do we need carbs?

What about all those diets out there that advertise weight loss by eating only protein? Or cutting out as many carbs as possible? Not a good idea at all! here's why:

1. Your brain runs solely off of a carbohydrate energy. This energy is called glucose. Your muscles are made of glucose. Basically, if you stop eating carbs, your body has to start burning off muscle so your brain can keep functioning.  When it runs out of extra glucose in the muscle stores, the brain can use a bi-product of burnt fat, but it much prefers potatoes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And of course, as dancers, we need our muscles! Not only that, we need our minds to be sharp.

on that note,

2. Carbohydrates restore the glucose in your muscles. When you do any kind of anaerobic or endurance exercise, your body uses glucose for energy rather than fat stores. That's why your muscles are tired after working out: you used up the glucose stores to exercise! Both carbs and proteins replace those stores, but if you are trying to gain strength (which, as a dancer, is a priority), you want to replace the glucose stores in your muscles as soon as possible after exercising, and you also want to make sure your metabolism stays even at the same time. So you need to eat carbs because…

3. Carbohydrates boost your metabolism. I'll have to talk about weight loss and meta-boosting another time, because there's enough to write a 18-page paper about it (trust me, I did it). But in order to keep your blood sugar levels even, and in order to keep your body burning a regulated amount of calories per day, you need to keep your metabolism going steady and even (basically, don't let it be fast and furious one day and slow as a snail the next).

More on this topic to come. Again, remember that extremely long paper. I've got some cool stuff to share with you all :)

Meanwhile, take a look at this video. Hank talks briefly about sugar (in a very snarky entertaining way).

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  1. I just did a detailed study on carbs for my nutrition class, so I find this very interesting. It reminds me of an article I once wrote about how carbs are necessary for dancers.

    1. I'm glad you like it! I'd love to read your article some time :)


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