Why are Carbs important to high performance athletes?
Carbs are an athlete’s primary source of energy. They provide working muscles the energy they need to jump, run, lift and swim. High performance athletes must make sure they are taking in plenty of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle and the liver as glycogen; like an internal storage locker for energy! Your glycogen stores will be depleted during workouts and must be replenished. If you forget to replace your glycogen stores, you will not have enough energy the next day. 50-70% of your energy should come from carbohydrates.
Choose these HIGH CARB FOODS
Whole Grains: oatmeal, 100% whole grain breads, whole wheat or corn tortillas, whole wheat bagels and English muffins, pasta, brown rice, low-sugar cereals (ie: All-bran, Cheerios, Total, Kashi, Wheat Chex, Wheaties, Raisin Bran, Smart Start, Basic 4, Blueberry Morning)
Fruits (fresh and canned in own juice) and 100% fruit juice
Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, asparagus, bell peppers, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, winter squash, zucchini, lettuce (romaine, green or red leaf), etc.
Starchy vegetables: red or sweet potatoes, yams, corn, green peas, and beans (refried, kidney, black, pinto, chili, etc.)
Dairy: yogurt, low fat cheeses (like moz cheese sticks) 1%, nonfat or skim white or chocolate milk, cottage cheese, pudding
Refined/Processed Carbs are Sugary foods such as cookies, cakes, pies, candy, pop tarts, soda (regular or diet), donuts, candy bars, “white” breads, high sugar cereals. Processing removes a lot of the nutrition (fiber, vitamins and minerals) from food. High sugar foods provide little nutrition and can cause extreme highs and lows in blood sugar. Extreme highs and lows will be detrimental to performance.
Carbohydrate intake should be from 2.0-5.0 g/pound body weight.
Example: 180lb athlete should consume 360-900g of carbs per day.
2.0-3.5 g/lb for athletes who train less than 1 hour daily at a moderate intensity.
3.5-5.5 g/lb for athletes who train hard daily and need to maximize daily glycogen recovery