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Diet is one of the most perplexing and frustrating things to balance in our lives. Losing weight is a challenge for most because along with exerting oneself physically, understanding and applying healthy eating habits are crucial for effective results.  An important part of a healthy diet is eating carbohydrates that help sustain energy for longer periods of time so that the body is able to use the food as fuel when working out. These are called complex carbohydrates.

Carbs are essentially sugar.  Rice, bread, or potatoes are recognized by the body as carbohydrates and therefore are digested the same way cake or cookies are. Theses are all examples of simple carbohydrates which  are digested very quickly and are dispersed into the bloodstream at a rapid rate. Since the simple carbs enter the bloodstream so rapidly, the body uses up the energy provided very quickly. Complex carbs, such as whole grains, beans, and whole-rye digest at a slower pace allowing for longer lasting energy and more efficient workouts.

Carbs are the first thing the body begins to burn when working out. It is important to understand that any carbs (sugar) that have entered the body the day prior to working out will be the first energy source used by the body. Once the body uses up all of  the carbohydrates, it will then pull from the fat deposits for energy (or burning fat). With this concept in mind, it is always best to engage the body in strength training by lifting weights (free weights, machines, or bodyweight exercises) to burn carbs. If the carbs are complex, the body will perform at a high level, resulting in a fulfilling, productive workout.  It is at this point that the body can burn fat at a rapid pace when presented with cardiovascular style exercises. Walking on the treadmill on an incline for about 20 minutes after a strength training workout is a great example of an effective way to burn fat once all of the carbs in the body have been used.

Post by:
Bruce Lee
Assistant General Manager
Personal Training Director
Merritt Athletic Clubs