Friday, September 14, 2007

Carbohydrates and Sports Performance

Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source for fuel during exercise or competition. Your body stores carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, in the liver and muscles.

Your body uses glycogen as fuel for any exercise more intense than a gentle jog or run. Glycogen can be broken down to provide energy more quickly than fat, which is the body's other major energy source. Since only limited amounts of glycogen can be stored, depletion of glycogen stores is a concern for athletes.

You can keep your glycogen stores adequate by carbohydrate loading one week prior to competition, having a high carbohydrate diet during training and consuming carbohydrates during competitions lasting more than 1 hour.

If you are training every one or two days, then replenishing your glycogen stores within 1 hour after exercise is important (200-400 carb calories). If you don't like to eat within 1 hour after exercising, a carb-rich drink will work great. You should also eat another 200-400 carb calories 2-3 hours later.

Your daily diet should consist of 60%-70% carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pasta and brown rice. If you increase carb intake to 70% (close to competition time), then cut back on fats in your diet. Fats (mainly unsaturated) would normally need to be about 20% of your diet, so cutting fats back to 15% would work.

Download your Free Book, "What to Never Eat After You Workout."

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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