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Can Athletes Stay Away From Carbs?
  • Arati Shah

  • 19, Mar. 2021

Can Athletes Stay Away From Carbs?

Today, many athletes feel the need to avoid carbohydrates in a bid to either lose fat or maintain low body fat levels. However, carbohydrates are the primary fuel for any athlete - whether a pro, elite or everyday athlete. So, before starting with any diet that can hamper sporting performance it would be prudent to see a fitness nutritionist who can help chalk out a sports winning diet. 

Carbohydrates serve as a primary energy source for working muscles and the brain, especially during exercise.To appreciate why carbohydrates are essential for an athlete it is amust to know the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are found in ready to eat foods, processed foods, bakery items, sugar and products with sugar, etc. which have an ill-effect on health as besides energy they provide no nutrients. On the other hand complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc. which provide energy and nutrients. 

An athlete’s meal should be composed of slow digesting high fibre carbs such as oats, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, etc which can replenish any lost glycogen stores 

So, what are the benefits of carbohydrates for an athlete?  

  1. Glucose from carbohydrates is not only the fuel for body but also the brain. A well fuelled brain can take the right decisions required in split seconds in any sport. It keeps the athlete motivated too. Loss of glucose after cutting back on carbohydrates may cause brain fog, headache etc. 

  1. Secondly, glucose is stored in the liver and muscles to be converted to energy during exercise. It helps delay fatigue and improve performance. 

  1. Thirdly, if there isn’t sufficient carbohydrates in an athlete’s diet the body may break down muscle protein for energy. If the carbohydrates are sufficient protein is free to do what it is intended to do which is assist in muscle gain. 

Carbohydrate intake of an athlete varies from that of a non-athlete. The amount for an athlete will depend on the frequency, type, duration and intensity of exercise. Also, those in competitive sports will require more than what a normal gym goer would need. Hence, carbohydrates need to be the foundation of each meal. Carbohydrates that need to be eliminated are the sugary beverages, sweets, packaged and processed foods.  

So, to be able to put in hard training hours day after day don’t shun carbohydrates. If you are an athlete putting your heart and soul into your training for peak performance, consulting with an offline or online sports nutritionist could be your link between effort and performance.