Are you like Regina George? Think carbs are the enemy? Think again. Low carb diets were not made for athletes. In fact, most athletes are not consuming an adequate amount of carbs to support their training demands. Here are 5 reasons you should be eating more carbs:
- Carbs are a key fuel source for working muscles and the brain. Carbs are used in the formation of glucose in the body to produce energy during exercise. Without adequate carbs, sport performance suffers. Because carbs also are the key fuel source for the brain, eating enough carbs also ensures we make good decision during training and on game-day. This is why people on low carb diets often feel tired, irritable and have poor concentration.
- We have limited carb stores. Extra carbs are stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen. However, we are only able to store about 800-1000 calories worth of carbs in our muscles and liver. It’s important to eat enough carbs in order to maintain these stores. A single bout of exercise can deplete these carb stores. When carb stores become depleted, we become fatigued, skill and concentration become impaired, and there is an increased perception of effort. This has to do with point # 1 because carbs are the primary fuel source for working muscles and the brain.
- High carb foods are an important source of nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and fibre. Low carb diets mean not only avoiding bread and pasta, but also fruit, milk and starchy vegetables. These foods are all nutrient dense and an important part of the diet. Avoiding high carb foods puts you at an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies.
- Eating carbs won’t make you fat. Taking in more calories then you burn causes you to gain weight. Research shows that those on a low-carb diet and high-carb diet eating the same number of calories lost the same amount of weight. Let’s look at two options from Swiss Chalet: Option 1 is the chicken caesar salad for our bread fearers. Option 2 is the chicken on the feared carb loaded Kaiser bun with a fresh vegetable medley on the side. Which do you think is better? Click here to find out the answer.
- Carbs taste great. We should enjoy the food we eat. Cutting out carbs means cutting out a lot of delicious food options. A healthy diet has room for all foods. Don’t feel guilty about having a piece of warm, freshly made bread or yummy plate of pasta, but rather enjoy every nutritious bite. Chances are, as an athlete, you probably need the extra carbs to support your training.
Let’s all learn a lesson from Michael Scott. We all know how well he did in his first 5km. Don’t believe the media’s portrayal of carbs being the “enemy” (sorry Regina). Falling into the low carb trap is not only unpleasant, but will also most likely cause your performance to suffer.
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