Introducing a healthy diet: carbohydrates and fats

Introducing a healthy diet: carbohydrates and fats

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A healthy diet is vital to make the most of your time in the pool and improve your figure. Read on to learn more about how carbohydrates and fats should fit into your meal times.

Complex and Fibrous Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. They are converted by the body into glycogen and stored in muscles, liver and bloodstream.

There are three types of carbohydrates – fibrous, complex and simple.

  • Fibrous carbohydrates contain high levels of fibre which slow down the process of conversion into glycogen, thus sustaining your energy supply over the day and maintaining a constant level of blood sugar.
  • Simple carbohydrates are rapidly converted by your body and used quickly as energy. This means your blood sugar level rises and falls quickly. The fall in blood sugar levels is typified by the mid-afternoon slump when your body craves more sugars to keep you ticking over.
  • Complex carbohydrates are starchy foods such as white pasta, rice, potatoes and bread. They also raise your blood sugar level so are less beneficial than the fibrous types.

The rise in blood sugar levels causes a sharp rise in insulin which promotes glycogen storage. However, high levels of insulin production also promote the storage of fat, so while you will enjoy a surge of energy, you will also suffer an increased storage of fat.

Foods high in simple carbohydrates

  • Sugar (white/brown)
  • Jam, honey, marmalade
  • Most boxed cereals
  • Tinned fruits
  • Yoghurt
  • Fromage frais
  • Ice cream
  • Jelly
  • Sweets/chocolates
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes

High in complex carbohydrates

  • Bread (brown/whole wheat)
  • Pasta (brown if possible)
  • Rice (brown if possible)
  • Noodles
  • Oats/porridge
  • Breakfast cereals (whole wheat only)

High in fibrous carbohydrates

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Green Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Courgettes

Mono-Unsaturated Fats

Everyone knows fats are bad for you right? WRONG! The secret is out – fats are good for you...well SOME fats are good for you.

Mono-unsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids. These are vital for circulation, metabolism, boosting your immune system, energy and muscular strength.

  • Cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts and organic peanut butter are four classic sources of mono-unsaturated fats.

There’s nothing wrong with saturated fats and they are actually essential for life but only in limited amounts. Too much can raise the level of cholesterol in your body, leading to circulation problems such as narrow arteries and heart disease as well as increasing your body weight. These types of fat are usually solid when at room temperature. Lard is an example.

Chances are you’re already taking steps to reduce your saturated fat intake – low fat yoghurt, low fat milk, low fat cheeses etc. Simply put, try and do more of this.

In line with your increased protein intake, choose lean meats (beef/turkey, for example) rather than fatty meats (pork/bacon). Also, grill or steam your meat rather than fry it in its own fat, and always trim the excess fat off the meat before you cook it

Finally, limit your intake of crisps, chips, cookies, cakes, chocolates and sweets.


  • 3

    3.48pm 30th October 2013
    Shea Haugen from NM

    Is lettuce that you would find in salads another form of fibrous carbohydrates? Thanks

  • 2

    8.58pm 28th October 2013

    Cereal that comes in a box, coco pops, cornflakes etc…

  • 1

    3.21pm 3rd October 2012

    Can you explain what is meant by a ’ boxed cereal’ please.

    Thanks Susan.

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