Healthy Eating
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Hi there!

I am overall very health conscious, and work out a lot! But I have trouble when it comes to carbs. Things like pizza and pasta "Scare" me, but I often find my body craving them- probably because of the extent I workout! Does anyone have any advice on how to get the right amount and right kind of carbs that won't make me feel guilty?


6 Replies

Hi healthyish,

You may find this page from NHS Choices helpful, regarding carbohydrates:

Zest :-)


Be very aware of the calories in pizza but pasta can be a good filling food if the sauce is home made with vegetables , tomatoes, mushrooms etc. Go very easy on cheese and sausage or processed meat added to the sauce. Try to have who,emeal pasta or perhaps half and half while you get used to it



My understanding is that carbohydrates come in a great variety - and have high and low Hypoglycemic Indexes. For example pure refined sugar and refined white wheat flour are high GI (and bad for you ) while low GI grains like oats and barley are good for you. Essentially it is all about how quickly carbs are converted into energy - you could eat x calories of pure sugar or x calories of oat porridge . Which do you think would fill you most and sustain your energy for longer?

I am a runner and am acutely aware of how much energy is required to run long distances (ie for long times). Anything over around 2-2.5 hours of vigorous effort can use all of your available blood sugar energy in the form of glycogen. It is then and before that you need to consume some HI GI carbs , in the from of almost pure sugar ( sports drinks) to keep you going. However it is more complicated than that and also involves training to use fat converted to energy instead of carbs converted to energy. Long distance training teaches your body to do this - but at the end of the day you can "bonk" if you run out of glycogen. This is a feeling of complete and utter exhaustion where you basically can not even walk. Improving your aerobic fitness where you are able to convert a greater amount of fat to energy instead of running solely on carb based gycogen allows you to run longer before exhausting your glycogen and "bonking" :)

You are probably using anaerobic energy when you do your gym? workouts? - anaerobic energy comes purely from glycogen in the blood and is probably why you feel "ravenous" after a workout. Nothing better for me than an ice cream laden chocolate milkshake after a really hard and fastish run - but that is one reason why exercise does not cause you to lose much weight :)


Good explanation of glycogen usage Bazza1234.

However, bear in mind that 3 mile runners are healthier than marathon runners , and this is likely to be due to the fact that long distance runners are chronically over-trained. More is not better; once you've achieved the optimal amount of exercise to stimulate an adaptive response you need to allow adequate recovery for that response to take place.

High glycaemic foods are not good. People with type 1 diabetes that have to resort to the use of high Gi carbs to remedy hypos for instance are not managing the condition properly; as you pointed out, glycogen should supply our carbohydrate for intense activities. The best way to ensure we have enough glycogen is to use low Gi carbohydrates (but not too much fructose) to replace what we use. Too little and our body tries to make up the deficit from protein, and to a lesser extent fat. Too much and the excess carbohydrate is converted to fat.

As well as becoming efficient at burning fat for fuel as you say, also consider that endurance activity that facilitates the burning of triglycerides releases the carbohydrate (glyc-) that binds the three fatty acids for each molecule, so again we don't need as much additional carbohydrate as we've been led to believe.


Interesting about the triglycerides. I didn't start exercising/running until a bit over 3 and a half years ago - and my cholesterol levels were not reduced in any way over that time and have only fallen considerably since I started taking a low dose statin and aspirin plus a significant change in diet 6 months ago. BUT - now that I look more closely at the triglyceride levels, I can see there has been a significant and steady reduction of these over the entire period

1 like

thanks everyone for the replies! they actually helped a lot. I'm a half marathon runner, so would that explain why I am always hungry after a long run- I feel like maybe I am not really fueling my body enough before? What do you usually eat before or after a long (around 8-10 miles) run?


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