High Carbohydrate Eating — Are you getting enough?
by Clare Wood
Carbohydrate foods play a vital role as a training fuel. The critical source of energy for exercising muscles is from your body's carbohydrate stores - a little from blood glucose and a larger amount from glycogen stored in your muscles.
These stores are used up when you undertake activity and need to be refilled from the carbohydrate in your diet. Running low on carbohydrate causes fatigue - you may have experienced what it is like to run out of fuel.
The typical eating patterns of most western societies do not supply adequate carbohydrate, and the focus of a winning diet is to increase our intake of these fuel foods.
How much do you need?
To provide energy for a light to moderate training program, nutritionists recommend that carbohydrate food should make up more than half of total energy intake. Athletes with heavy daily training may need to eat higher levels than this to achieve their increased carbohydrate needs.
The amount needed also relates to your body weight, so the larger you are the more fuel you will need. The following is a guide for the different activity levels:
- 4-5 grams of carbs/kg/day
Moderate exercise, fitness programs (~3-5hrs/week)
- 6-7 grams of carbs/kg/day
Serious amateur athlete, weight training, medium level exercise (~10hrs/week)
- 8-9 grams of carbs/kg/day
Serious professional athlete, endurance athlete, marathoner (>20hrs/week)
50 gram serves of nutritious carbohydrate rich foods
- 800-1000ml sports drink
- 500ml fruit juice or soft drink
- 250-350ml fruit smoothie
- 250-350ml liquid meal supplement (e.g.Sustagen)
- 1 sandwich with jam or honey
- 3 muesli bars or 2 cereal bars
- 3 medium to large pieces of fruit
- 2 cups of breakfast cereal and skim milk
- 2 x 200g carton of low-fat fruit yogurt
- Cup of thick vegetable soup and a large bread roll
- 2 cups of fruit salad with ½ cup of low-fat fruit yogurt
- 1 large bread roll with banana filling