Are carbohydrates for athletes as bad as people make them out to be?
The debate on whether carbohydrates are good for athletes or not has been a long one. But we are here to settle this for you once and for all.
A lot of people scram when they hear the word, carbohydrates. It is considered the touch-me-not of the nutrient world. But is it that bad?
Let’s dive in and see..
Carbohydrates are the only source of food that will give you sustainable energy. An athlete trains vigorously throughout the day. Carbs provide our brain and body with the required energy to go on and get us through the day.
In order to perform well and ensure the body is functioning to it’s optimum, carbohydrates should be consumed as part of a nutrition-packed diet.
Carbohydrates are broken down into smaller molecules called glucose. This glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as fuel, especially when the body requires it the most, i.e during physical activity.
Often we hear that athletes go on a low-carb, high protein diet in order to stay fit and build muscles. The notion has come down to this- the ability to burn fat and eat carbohydrates do not go together. But in reality, you can burn fat and consume carbohydrates as well.
Adapting this low-carb, high protein diet will help you lose weight, for sure. But the question is will it sustain you? If you’re an athlete whose way more active person, would you want to just be in shape, or would you want to be able to be in shape and perform?
What a lot of people do not realise is that, as fast as they lose weight following this (low carb, high protein diet), they are likely to gain that weight back just as fast. It is not easy or advisable to follow this kind of diet.
To be able to perform at one’s peak, energy levels should be high, and for that carbohydrates are a must. Tricking your body to use fat as a fuel for energy isn’t good. With less or no carbohydrates, an athlete will start feeling low on energy, light-headed and even weak.
This may even result in binge eating later on due to the lack of fuel left in his/her body.
There are two types of carbohydrates:
Simple and complex. Both are equally important.
Simple carbs will give you quick and immediate energy that you may require just before or during a workout.
Complex carbs will sustain you for a long time. They should be consumed at least an hour before your workout as complex carbs need time to digest.
Maintaining a balanced diet (i.e with carbs) doesn’t just help in enhancing performance and fuelling an athlete. It also helps in recovery which is an important part of an athlete’s life. It even reduces the risk of an injury.
Having said this, an athlete shouldn’t just eat what he wants for carbohydrates. Wheat, grains, beans, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and pasta are advisable. They should be had in adequate amounts and should be consumed with other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats.
You can stay fit and consume carbs at the same time. Carbohydrates for athletes are the best source of energy for the body and without it, an athlete can’t be at his peak.