Carbohydrate is the Foundation for
Everyday Sports Nutrition

Carbohydrate = sports nutrition success. Carbohydrate is a substance in food that provides energy. Too few carbs can impact the energy level of your muscles and lessen your concentration. So, you need carbs to move and think!

  • Am I eating foods that contain carbs?

  • Carbs are found in grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar and any food containing similar ingredients (sports drinks, nutrition bars, and some sports nutrition supplements).

  • I thought carbs were bad and cause weight gain. What is the truth?

  • Carbs are energy, so you need enough carbs to workout and perform. Carb-rich foods also give you vitamins and minerals needed for exercise. Yes, too many carbs = too many calories and can lead to weight gain, so think balance. At a minimum, start with the new food pyramid for a general idea of how many carb-rich foods to eat. However, the pyramid is for the general population, so as an active woman, you’ll need to adjust the servings for your sports nutrition goals.

  • Am I eating the right types of carbohydrate?

  • Whole foods, like grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk are also high in nutrition. Whole foods work best for replenishing your body after a workout and should be the primary type of carbs in your everyday intake. Sugars, sports drinks, nutrition bars, and some supplements may or may not provide the right sports nutrition mix. These refined carbs may be useful before and during an event. So, all types of carbs have a purpose.

  • Are some sugars better than others?

  • Sugars that are in whole foods (like fruit) are mixed with nutrition. Fruit juice is high in fructose, which may not sit well in your stomach during an event. Sugars that are not in whole foods are called refined carbs. They provide the carb energy, but usually lack nutrition. Carbohydrate supplements in sports nutrition, including sports drinks, are there to replenish glucose (sugar) levels in your body, so use them when needed, not as a steady diet. Sugars in candy may be useful in longer events to provide convenient and quick carbs, but a steady diet of candy is low nutrition and cavity-promoting.

  • Is there a way to store carbohydrate in my body?

  • Yes! Stored carbohydrate is called glycogen. It is the carb “reserve” that you depend on at certain stages of exercise. To maximize carb storage, eat enough carbs on regular basis, always replenish your carb stores after exercise, train consistently so that your body gets used to using carb stores, and include rest days for your muscle groups (giving them time to refill). Also note that exercising at a steady pace of moderate intensity encourages fat store use (yeah!) and preserves the carb stores needed for the higher pace/higher intensity parts of your workout/performance.