I’m pretty sure it’s a well known fact in today’s society that carbohydrates provide us with energy for our daily activities.
Being an athlete, your carbohydrate or“energy” requirements are way different than the regular person.
You need to consume enough calories to provide your body with enough energy just to survive.
That’s without working out and barely walking.
That’s right, your body needs energy just to doit’s involuntary activities that we have no control over; i.e. breathing, heartbeat, digestion, etc.
So when you bring in weight training, practices, games, school, and stresses of life in general; you need to make sure you’re consuming enough to provide energy for those activities and enough to help you recovery from said activities.
If you’re not getting an adequate amount of carbs in your diet, you’re doing a huge disservice to your performance and ultimately your athletic career.
So now that you understand the importance of eating enough carbohydrates in your diet, lets find out what exactly carbs are and how your body deals with them.
When you think of carbs your first thought is probably bread, pasta, rice, or cookies.
Foods that are starchy and sweet.
But when you take a deeper look into the organic compound we call carbohydrates, we find that there are actually 3 different forms.
But for the sake of time and prioritizing I’m only going to discuss the most important one.
This form of carbohydrate is defined as being the simplest.
Every other type of carb has to be broken down into monosaccharides in order to be absorbed by the body.
So you can rest assure that monosaccharides are the most important for athletic performance.
What exactly are monosaccharides?
When we break down the word we get; Mono = one AND Saccharide = sugar
No wonder it’s known as the simplest form.
3 common types of monosaccharides are;
With Glucose being the most important because of its ability to fuel our cells.
That statement right there is the main reason why athletes NEED glucose in their diet.
The cells in your body run best on glucose, especially muscle cells.
Meaning, your cells will absorb the glucose from your bloodstream, send it into the mitochondria and start producing ATP.
The raw energy source cells use.
So it’s not exactly glucose that’s producing the energy.
It’s the ATP that cells produce from glucose.
It’s crazy how the body works.
When it comes to digestion, unlike protein where it starts breaking down in the stomach.
Carbohydrates start breaking down in the mouth using salivary amylase, stops breaking down in the stomach, and restart breakdown in the duodenum.
So my train of thought when it comes down to it is;
Make the majority of my carb intake come from glucose.
It’ll be easier on my digestive system to not breakdown other forms of carbs (di and polysaccharides).
I mean if your body can only absorb monosaccharides why not feed it mostly that.
The simplest form of carbohydrates.
*side note: I believe in a well balanced diet so making ALL of your carbs monosaccharides is probably not the best idea. I tend to make 70-80% of my carbs come from simple sugars. The other 20-30% can come from complex carbs.
That way your body can absorb it quicker and start producing ATP for your performance.
Some of the best carb sources I include in my own diet are:
- White Jasmine Rice
- Red Potatoes
- Raw Honey
Carbs are the number 1 source of energy you need to worry about.
Yes, protein and fats do matter but without adequate carbs in your diet you’re leaving out the most anabolic hormone in your body.
When should I eat carbs?
This is a very important question because most people in today’s society tend to have chronic elevations of insulin throughout the day.
This can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
So what we want is to elevate insulin at specific times of the day.
The most important times.
Insulin is the storage hormone. It’s job is to shuttle all the nutrients you eat (protein, carbs, and fats) into your cells.
So when do you think your body would most benefit from nutrients being sent into your cells for repair?
After intense training. That’s right.
The best times for you to have a higher carb meal is right after an intense training session.
Now this can be after the weight room and/or after practice/games.
This ensures that you’re getting amino acids delivered into your muscle cells AND refilling your glycogen stores.
If you want to be an Overtime Athlete make sure nutrition is just as important to you as training in the weight room and doing skill work is.
Hope you guys got a better understanding of what carbohydrates are and what they do in your body.
Make sure to hit the share button so I can come back next week and dive into the last macronutrient on our list; Fat.
Talk to you later,