Carbs and Wholegrains: A ‘Must’ For Athletes

Posted on 19th May 2014 by Sam in Nutrition. comment(s).
Carbs and Wholegrains: A ‘Must’ For Athletes

From colourful rainbows of fruit and veg to lean meats, wholegrains and good fats, we all know that the key to a healthy, functioning body is a balanced diet. 

As well as gobbling back your beloved superfoods, wholegrains and carbs such as our Brown Rice Pasta, play a crucial role in keeping our insides ticking along smoothly – they let us enjoy life. 

You see, good carbs and wholegrains are our rocket fuel. They give us the energy to run, to walk, to dance and to laugh til our bellies ache. They even give us the ability to chase our kids round the park, or to hit the shops until our arms are ready to drop off. 

If you’re an athlete, carbs (and we’re talking ‘good’ carbs here – none of the processed stuff) will give you the energy to run marathons, to scale mountains and to swim seas. 

Yet, despite this, many people don’t eat anywhere near enough. It seems that wholegrains and carbs have been tainted by people’s fear of gaining weight – and for what?

 

Which Carbs Should I Eat? 

Trust us when we say that not all carbs are equal. True, there are some – such as white pasta and white bread – which are overly processed and refined, meaning all the goodness has been sapped out of them, leading to blood sugar spikes.

 

However, there are others, such as brown rice, wholegrain breads, quinoa and oats, which are more nutrient-dense and therefore much better for you. These – also known as complex carbs - take longer to breakdown and therefore provide energy at a slower rate than simple sugars 

As well as topping up your body’s energy levels, these foods are also rich sources of health-boosting vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, which is crucial to our digestive system. 

How Do Carbs Fuel Performance?

 

If you are training or if you hit the gym regularly, then carbs are one of the most critical energy sources your body has. Go without them and you’ll feel tired and lethargic, and then ultimately you’ll hit the wall. This not only compromises the quality of your workouts, but also completely shatters your fitness regime. 

When you digest good carbohydrates such as those we mentioned, they turn into smaller sugars (including glucose, fructose and galactose), which are then quickly converted into energy by your cells. Any energy not used up is stored as glycogen, which is crucial when it comes to exercise. 

Since glycogen is immediately accessible, it can be used for most exercises, particularly when it comes to high intensity bursts, such as sprinting and weight training. When it comes to long duration exercises – think marathons or energy-zapping events - then glycogen helps to breakdown fat into something the muscles can use. 

Not just this, but sufficient carb intake also helps to prevent proteins from being used as energy. If your body is forced to use protein – the building blocks for muscles, skin, bone and tissues - then you’ll limit your chances of building strong, lean muscles. 

So, you see, all this means that carbs are actually the most important source of energy out there for athletes. Forget your protein shakes (although we still love those too!) – fuelling your body in the right way will enhance your performance, causing you to push harder, go for longer and to hit that personal best. 

Which Carbs Are Right For Me? 

So, how do you know which carbs to pick? Which are the best for you and your needs? 

Here are some of our top carb picks for athletes to help get you going and to make you the best you can possibly be: 

1)    Sweet Potatoes 

Loaded with powerful antioxidants, including vitamins B, C and D, sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of energy. They are also rich in potassium, a crucial electrolyte which helps to soothe tired muscles and regulate heartbeat, and magnesium, a powerful de-stresser. Meanwhile, the natural sugars found in these delicious foods are slow-releasing, meaning they are a good source of energy and won’t lead to blood sugar spikes. Just one cup of sweet potato will power you with 27g of carbs. 

2)    Oats 

A fantastic alternative to sugar-laden breakfast cereals, oats are a brilliant way to get you going in the morning. Thanks to the high levels of soluble fibre found in oats, they’re also extremely good for the heart as they can work to reduce LDL, or our “bad” cholesterol levels. Meanwhile, oats are also high in magnesium, which help to maintain nerve and muscle function. Just ½ a cup of oats can provide you with 27g of carbs. 

3)    Rizopia Brown Rice Pasta 

Our brown rice pasta is made from no nasties and has all the goodness left inside. Brown rice is a fantastic all-rounder and can not only lower cholesterol, but it also helps to aid weight loss, increase energy for fitness training (due to its slow-release sugars) and prevent life-threatening diseases. 

4)    Bananas 

Bananas are full of natural sugars (around 16g), which make them perfect for a quick energy boost. Their unique combination of vitamins and minerals – including iron, Potassium, vitamin B6 and Tyrosine – also work to help an athlete power up, replenish their blood cells and to stay alert. 

5)    Legumes 

Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are some of the most versatile and nutritious foods around – they’re easy to add to homecooked meals such as chilli for an extra nutritional boost. Legumes are full of complex carbs and dietary fibre, which all help to fuel the body. However, since legumes can cause gas, it’s best to avoid these right before an event.

 Sam

 iamintothis.com

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