Every high-energy athlete knows the importance of having adequate carbohydrates in their diet. Carbs are the primary fuel our bodies need to keep us going. Foods rich in carbohydrates are digested and turned into glucose which is vital for the numerous metabolic processes that take place in our bodies. For endurance athletes, carbs are especially important as they keep them performing at their peak levels whether they are training or racing. So, yes, carbs are a big deal.
The trick lies in getting the right kind of carbs at the right times to keep you energized. For instance, carbs with a high glycemic index release glucose into the blood quickly and are therefore ideal before, during or after exercise or a big race. The rest of the time, you should focus on eating low-glycemic carbs to give you long-lasting energy. In all instances, the more nutrients your carbs have, the better they are for your body.
Alternative Carb Sources
Some endurance athletes swear by old-school carbs like pasta and bread for that much-needed energy boost. While these foods will definitely give you loads of energy, there are more nutrient-rich sources of carbohydrates that won’t end up spiking your blood sugar. You just have to think outside the bread and pasta boxes and be willing to experiment with different foods.
You might consider:
Legumes and pulses are often overlooked sources of carbs. Yet, eating your fill of beans, lentils, peas or any other pulses ensures you not only build up your glycogen stores but also get enough protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Mix different legumes in a salad and you can easily meet your quota of carbs for the day.
A new take on desserts.
If you have a sweet tooth, there’s no need to give up your treats. Simply substitute the butter, oil and fats in baked goods with pureed fruits, veggies or other healthier sources of carbs. For instance, replace the butter in brownies with pureed black beans or go all out with a quinoa cake when the cravings strike. The latter is a nutrition powerhouse with one cup giving up to 39g of carbs as well as other nutrients such as protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and fiber.
Depending on tried and true cereals like rice and wheat to fuel your body can become monotonous really fast. Break out of the rut and sample other cereals like black or brown rice- both excellent sources of carbs, fiber and antioxidants. Even oats can get boring after a while so mix things up by trying something different like amaranth, millet, farro or teff and let your body reap the benefits.
Whole grain products.
If you really don’t want to give up on pasta or bread, always opt for the whole grain or whole wheat versions. These have a low glycemic index that will keep you energized throughout the day and are also loaded with plenty of other nutrients to nourish your body.
Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet. You can read more of Kevin’s writings by connecting with him online; LinkedIn – Twitter