The consensus view on the diet for athletes and active people is that it should include more carbohydrate-containing foods than recommended by the health professionals. Their diets should be such that about 60% of their daily energy intake is obtained from carbohydrates, 30 % or less from fat and 10 to 15 % from proteins.
Adequate carbohydrate intake helps prevent protein from being used as energy. If the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrate, protein is broken down to make glucose for energy.
An early study exploring the link between diet and exercise capacity found that after a period on a high carbohydrate diet doubled in comparison with the exercise times achieved after consuming a normal mixed diet. In contrast, a fat and protein diet reduced exercise capacity to almost half that achieved after normal mixed diets. In short, “Eat foods with simple carbohydrates on your workout days… they give you the energy you need to have workouts that will make a difference”.
Importance of Stored Carbohydrates
One gram of carbohydrate provides four calories of energy. Athletes often talk about carbohydrate loading and carbohydrate depletion which refers to the amount of carbohydrate energy we can store in our muscles. This is generally around 2,000 carbohydrate calories, but we can change this number through depletion and loading. During depletion (from diet, exercise or a combination) we use up the stored carbohydrate.
Complex carbohydrates take a bit longer to be digested and absorbed into the body. They also take longer to breakdown and therefore provide energy at a slower rate than simple sugars. Examples of complex carbohydrates are breads, rice, and pasta. Starch and fiber are also considered complex carbohydrates but fiber can not be digested or used for energy. Starch is probably the most important energy source in an athlete’s diet because it is broken down and stored as glycogen. Foods high in starch include whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, and grains.
Keep a balance with your complex carbs. Eating too much complex carbs is bad (weight gain), however too little of comlex carbs will manifest its self as feeling depleated , cranky and difficulty in focusing.
The Fire Eye Blog gives you extra insight into your fitness, meals planning, fitness equipment and motivation.