Published: 04/17/2010 - Updated: 08/14/2019
Surely you know that carbohydrates are the nutritional base of every athlete. Moreover, sports nutrition experts point out that carbohydrates should replace the 60 or 70% of available energy from the athlete's diet. Carbohydrates are, then, substances that our bodies use for energy.
Well, we must know the ideal carbohydrate that an athlete needs to consume throughout the day. In this regard, we must understand that a carbohydrate must be transformed into the ideal carbohydrate for athletes to comply with all functions. And this is where supplements come into play as carbohydrates.
It is clear that we cannot feed an athlete only with glucose and fructose throughout the day. Similarly, it would be impractical and inefficient, for example, a cyclist that eats rice or potatoes while making a march of 4 hours of cycling.
You need to know that each type of carbohydrate has specific characteristics of digestion, gastric emptying rate of absorption, metabolism in the body that makes it ideal at one particular time of the athlete's daily nutrition.
Foods rich in carbohydrates:
- Green peas
Today we can see that athletes who are able to store higher levels of muscle glycogen, are also those with greater resilience. So ideally, the athlete stores as much energy as possible as glycogen in the body.
Now ... how do we maximize the energy storage? There are basically two aspects that determine the level of muscle glycogen and therefore, the athlete's endurance:
- The level of training
This found that people who play sports often have higher levels of muscle glycogen than sedentary people. Moreover, the degree of training, diet plays another key role to achieve high levels of muscle glycogen. For example, numerous medical studies show that if an one-carb diet is conducted the days before a competition, significantly increases the athlete's endurance.
Distribution of carbohydrate intake during the day
When we speak of carbohydrate portions of the athlete, we must differentiate the times of day and its relation to the timing of training:
- The days before the competition
- Three hours before exercise
- During warm-up
- During sports
- After training
1. The days before competition:
The main objective for this stage is that when the athlete begins to perform physical activity, energy stocks are fully charged, i.e. muscle glycogen levels and liver are saturated so as to achieve the maximum athletic performance.
Sports nutrition experts recommend carbohydrate loading in the two or three days before a competition, involving about 9 grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight. An example: a boy weighing 70 kg. should eat in the days before the competition about 600 grams of carbohydrates a day. Thus, we recommend that two or three days prior to competition, athletes eat rich foods preferably carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, cereals, etc..
According to the carbohydrate intake posed by different types of food, we can say that eating 600 grams of carbohydrates per day is a great effort by the athlete due to the large amount of food to eat. Thus, for example, four big portions of pasta would provide only half the carbohydrates that you should take a day.
For this reason, many athletes take concentrated energy products since it is difficult to ensure a high daily intake of carbohydrates only with food. The idea is to properly load of carbohydrates in the days before a major competition to get the most of the glycogen stores in the body.
2. Three hours before exercise:
Before the competition or training, it is very important to make a meal about 3 hours earlier. This meal should be rich in carbohydrates that are easily digestible. That is why we recommend low fat and Acoma-rich foods like rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.
As an average, an athlete should consume about 200 grams of carbs 2-3 hours before competition. Undoubtedly, these 200 grams of carbohydrates can be eaten on the basis of common foods. Taking into account the content of carbohydrates that the different type of food rations, we can calculate that if the athlete has good portion of pasta, will take approximately 90-100 grams of carbohydrates.
Thus we see that the athlete should have another second food rich in carbohydrates to complete the 150-200 grams he or she needs. The thing is, many times, the individual cannot or will not eat much food at that time.
In these cases, there are supplements very beneficial with carbohydrates, because they are comfortable, easy to assimilate and are usually in the form of shakes. In this case, ease of use, the immediate preparation and easy assimilation of these products can be an alternative for certain athletes and in specific situations.
3. During warm-up:
During this period, the athlete should drink between 250 and 500 ml of fluid during the warm-up session. Then, we highly recommend eating carbohydrates, since the time of digestion and assimilation would be delayed at the start of the test.
Thus, it is recommended that during warm-up, the athlete take a sports drink or energy depending on exercise intensity, duration, degree of sweating, etc.
4. During sport:
When we are making our sport, the key nutrients we ingest are water, carbohydrates and electrolytes. Feed intake and therefore energy intake during sport is essential.
In general and with some exceptions, isotonic energy drinks are much more desirable than solid foods to feed properly during the competition.
During the practice, food is one of the most widely studied subjects about nutrition in recent years. Through these studies we can conclude that the intake of carbohydrates during exercise significantly delayed the onset of fatigue, increases strength and improves performance.
However, the contribution of carbohydrates during exercise performance prevents hypoglycemia, i.e. the lowering of blood glucose that originated an athlete's physical weakness.
If we talk about numbers, we can say that during sports, an athlete requires a maximum amount of carbohydrates 60 grams per hour.
And we must not forget water intake to prevent dehydration of the athlete. This should also take into account the contribution of electrolytes.
5. After training:
If we refer to the intake after sports practice, we must bear in mind that the idea is to ensure efficient recovery stage, which is especially important for athletes involved in training over an hour and if they will repeat in the next 24 hours.
In that moment, the body's energy reserves (glycogen) are almost exhausted, so that one must take into account the maximum replenishment levels to facilitate proper recovery of the athlete.
Food after training is a factor that must always be considered. In this regard, we can conclude:
Immediately after training, the athlete must take a gram of carbohydrate high glycemic index for each kilo of weight. So a 70 kg athlete should take about 70 grams of carbohydrate.
After two hours of completing the training, there should be another load of carbohydrates to provide a further 1 g HC / kg body weight.
At the end of four hours, athlete will require a new load of carbohydrates. So we will ensure that the athlete has recovered the body's energy reserves and can perform at their best in the session the next day.
Source: GSN Sports Nutrition