Has a coach or someone in the nutrition world ever thrown the term “glycemic index” your way and you’re like WTF?
The glycemic index refers to how quickly a carbohydrate source (anything from sweet potatoes to gummy bears) is digested by the body.
Okay, did that make it more, or less, confusing?
First, carbohydrates are foods made up of mostly carbs. The list looks like this (we won’t name ALL of them):
- Fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, berries)
- Fruit Juice
Each kind of carb is broken down (aka digested) either fast or slow by the body, and is placed on the glycemic index by HOW fast it’s broken down.
Why does this matter to YOU?
Because when you’re training or resting, you want to figure out what kind of carb to eat, and when.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (aka blood sugar). This is one of your body’s preferred fuel sources, especially in the sport of functional fitness.
When you begin your training session, your body prefers to have lots of carbs available because it wants to be able to do things fast (your body can use protein and fat, but it has to MAKE glucose, whereas carbs are essentially ALREADY glucose). So it’s EASIER and more efficient for your body to use carbs.
So things that are higher on the glycemic index means your body has to do minimum work to use (think high octane gasoline) versus things that are lower on the index (which require more work to break down).
Within 60 to 90 minutes of training and during training (sessions lasting longer than 60 minutes) you want moderate to high GI foods (fruit, candy, juice, white bread, white rice, carb supplements). And then AFTER training you can do lower GI foods, like potatoes, squash, and brown rice.
Play around with what feels right for YOU! Some women can eat a banana mid session, others need to sip on apple juice or eat some gummy bears. But the important thing to remember is that carbs are your friends in this sport and you should be eating them!