🔥Carbohydrates provide an important fuel source for the brain and muscle during exercise, and can be manipulated by exercise and dietary intake.
A key strategy in promoting optimal performance in competitive events or training is modifying the timing, amount and type of carbohydrate food and drinks according to the demands of the session and the individual needs of the athlete.
Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: Simple and Complex:
Simple carbs are metabolized quickly, spiking your blood sugar and delivering a fast boost of energy.
Simple carbs include table sugar, corn syrup, and honey, while more naturally occurring simple sugars are found in fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk products. These are the carbs to eat before, during, and immediately after exercise, because they quickly replenish your body’s ready-to-use energy supply.
Complex carbohydrates—generally thought to be the more nutritious carb—include starch and fiber, and take longer for your body to break down. Fiber is found abundantly in plants, cereal grains (no, not Coco-Puffs), fruits, veggies, and legumes. Rich sources of starch include rice, whole-grain wheat, and corn. And because they take longer to break down during digestion, they provide a controlled release of energy throughout the day, rather than a huge spike and subsequent drop. But while their effects on the body are different, simple and complex carbohydrates both have a place in an athlete’s diet.
A diet rich in carbs, starches, and fibers is important to any performance nutrition and weight management plan. Fill up on complex, nutrient-dense carbohydrates throughout the day, and reserve simple carbs for just before, during, and immediately after exercise. And remember: carbs in and of themselves don’t cause weight gain—but eating more calories than your body will use does.
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