top of page

NUTRITION FOR SPORTS AND EXERCISE : CARBOHYDRATES

Updated: Jun 15, 2020


We should all aim to eat a healthy, varied diet based on the principles of the Eat well Guide , which matches our energy needs. This advice still applies when taking part in regular physical activity, such as going to the gym, swimming, running, cycling or team sports.

Following healthy eating guidelines alone can support an active lifestyle. However when exercising, your body will use up more energy. Unless you are trying to lose weight you may find that you need to eat more food to give your body the extra energy it needs.

Eating well for physical activity and sport can have many benefits including:

  • Allowing you to perform well in your chosen sport or activity;

  • Reducing the risk of injury and illness;

  • Ensuring the best recovery after exer-cise or a training programme.

A healthy diet for sport and exercise should contain plenty of starchy foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, some protein foods and some dairy foods. It is also important to stay hydrated.

Foods for fuel and exercise Carbohydrates


The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy. When they are digest-ed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose to provide readily available energy for the body to use quickly and effectively. Carbohydrates are the most important form of fuel for exercise and sports activities. The body can store carbohydrates in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and use these stores as a source of fuel for the brain and muscles during physical activity.

Further understanding : What is glycogen ?

 

These glycogen stores are limited, so it is important to be fully fuelled at the start of any exercise. By not having adequate carbohy-drate in your diet for exercise, you may feel tired and lacking in energy and notWe should all aim to eat a healthy, varied diet based on the principles of the Eat well Guide , which matches our energy needs. This advice still applies when taking part in regular physical activity, such as going to the gym, swimming, running, cycling or team sports.

Following healthy eating guidelines alone can support an active lifestyle. However when exercising, your body will use up more energy. Unless you are trying to lose weight you may find that you need to eat more food to give your body the extra energy it needs.

Why do we need Carbohydrate ?

Eating well for physical activity and sport can have many benefits including:

  • Allowing you to perform well in your chosen sport or activity;

  • Reducing the risk of injury and illness;

  • Ensuring the best recovery after exercise

  • or a training programme.

A healthy diet for sport and exercise should contain plenty of starchy foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, some protein foods and some dairy foods. It is also important to stay hydrated. Foods for fuel and exercise Carbohydrates The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy. When they are digest-ed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose to provide readily available energy for the body to use quickly and effectively.

Carbohydrates are the most important form of fuel for exercise and sports activities. The body can store carbohydrates in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and use these stores as a source of fuel for the brain and muscles during physical activity. These glycogen stores are limited, so it is important to be fully fuelled at the start of any exer-cise.

What will happen due to lack of Carbs?

By not having adequate carbohy-drate in your diet for exercise, you may feel tired and lacking in energy and not be able to perform at your best. So, regular intake of carbohydrate-rich foods is important to keep stores topped up. The correct food choices can help ensure the body has enough energy for activity, as well as help aid recovery. Starchy foods are an important source of car-bohydrates in our diet. Wholegrain varieties also provide fibre, which is important for digestive health, and a range of vitamins and minerals including vitamins, iron, calcium and folate.

Good sources of carbohydrates in the diet include: Starchy foods should make up around a third of the food we eat. Fruit and milk contain car-bohydrates in the form of sugars and can help to provide the body with a quick source of energy.

They also contain many additional vitamins and minerals that help to keep us healthy. Starchy foods, especially high fibre varieties provide a slower release of energy and take longer to digest, so it’s a good idea to include some in every meal.

Cross Out the bad Carbs

Food and drinks that contain high amounts of free sugars, such as sweets, biscuits, cakes and sugarssweetened soft drinks, should generally be limited as they can lead to excessive calorie intakes which may cause weight gain. Frequent high intake of free sugars can also increase the risk of tooth decay particularly in those with poor dental hygiene. 100% fruit juices also contain free sugars, so limiting intake to a small 150ml glass a day is recommended.

Calculating your needed Carbs

Competitive sports people and athletes may require more carbohydrates than an average gym user to match the intensity of their activity level. Estimated carbohydrate needs are outlined and depend on the intensity and duration of the exercise sessions:

Duration of sport or exercise sessions Recommended intake (per kg body weight per day)*

  • 3-5 hours per week 4-5g

  • 5-7 hours per week 5-6g

  • 1-2 hours per day 6-8g

  • 2 + hours per day 8-10g

Coming up in next blog I will take you through the science of Protein.

 

SO STAY TUNED!

 

About author

MR. VISHVAS RAO

Fitness & Nutrition Expert

President - U.P Bodybuilding & Fitness Association

Chairman - Selection committee-IBBF

Director - Inter National Personal Trainers & Fitness Academy -IPTFA

#SportNutrition #Fitness #Bodybuilding #sport #Diet #Carbohydratefacts #BestCarbsources

37 views0 comments
bottom of page