If you want results, you must train hard. In order to train hard, you must provide adequate fuel for your body. The fastest automobile in the world is useless without gasoline. Your body is equally useless when you lack energy. Many fad diets promise miracle results by avoiding carbohydrates. Without turning this into a science class, let's look at the facts.
Carbohydrates provide the most efficient form of energy during exercise. Carbohydrates fuel the central nervous system and muscles during physical activity. Carbohydrates should comprise 50-70% of your nutritional intake. Our training program is intense. To keep up, you must fuel your body with an adequate supply of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are converted by the digestive system into blood sugar, also known as glucose. Carbohydrates refill glycogen stores in your muscles and liver. When you use up the sugar in your blood and muscles, your liver breaks down stored glycogen for release into your blood. There are three types of carbohydrates (not all carbohydrates were created equal). Carbohydrates can be classified as monosaccharides, disaccharides, or polysaccharides. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are referred to as sugar while polysaccharides are known as complex carbohydrates.
In order to maximize our performance and achieve optimal gains, we must fuel ourselves with complex carbohydrates while avoiding sugar-based forms. One popular health fad is the carbohydrate-restricted diet. A well-known example is the Atkins diet. I am sick and tired of listening to "self-appointed" experts proclaim that carbohydrates will make you tired and fat. Complex carbohydrates are not stored as fat when consumed in conjunction with a serious training program. Complex carbohydrates provide prolonged energy, unlike the sugar based mono and disaccharides.
If Mr. Couch Potato eats pasta all day long, of course he will gain weight, but not because of carbohydrates. He will gain weight because he eats an excessive amount of calories while sitting on his ass all day.
Many people associate eating a meal high in carbohydrates with a sudden feeling of fatigue. This is not true if you know when to eat, how much to eat, and what to eat. This information is very important so pay attention.
Carbohydrates dictate the level of sugar in your blood. As athletes we must maintain steady levels of blood sugar. By doing so, we ensure a steady level of ENERGY (required to train). When our blood sugar levels drastically drop, we experience the feeling of fatigue and exhaustion. For example, when you eat candy, you experience an immediate rush of sugar into your blood. You may experience a momentary "rush" from the sugar before experiencing fatigue soon afterward. Your body senses the unusually high level of sugar so consequently "sucks" the sugar out of your blood to feed your cells. All of a sudden, your blood sugar levels bottom out and fatigues sets in.
This reaction will NOT occur when you consume complex carbohydrates in moderate portions, spaced throughout the day. Small meals consisting of complex carbohydrates throughout the day allow your blood sugar levels to remain constant, which promotes continuous energy for training.
It is important to eat small meals. Smaller meals cause less of a blood sugar response than large meals (meaning blood sugar levels remain constant). Many small meals throughout the day will normalize blood sugar levels, providing a sustained energy supply to the body. It is a recommended that an athlete eat every three hours. The days of "three square meals" are history when discussing sports performance nutrition.
Examples of complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy include:
Whole Wheat Bread Whole Wheat Pasta Brown Rice
Nuts & Seeds
The foods listed above are low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is defined as the rate which foods cause an increase in blood sugar levels.
This is EXTREMELY important. Low glycemic index foods should make up the majority of your pre-workout and pre-competition meals. High glycemic index foods cause sharp swings in blood sugar levels, leading to fatigue and poor performance. For example, white potatoes are absorbed very quickly and cause a faster rise in blood sugar than common table sugar.
Examples of foods that are high on the glycemic index and should be avoided before workout sessions include:
White Potatoes ■ White Rice
White Bread ■ Bananas
White Pasta ■ Raisins
Always opt for foods made with wheat floor instead of white flour. Wheat based foods are much lower on the glycemic index, thus more effective for the Warrior's energy demands. In addition, avoid simple carbohydrate items, such as candy and soda. These foods supply "empty" calories (calories without nutritional value).
I am sure you remember what happens when you eat crap. Moving along.
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WHAT IT IS A three-phase plan that has been likened to the low-carbohydrate Atkins program because during the first two weeks, South Beach eliminates most carbs, including bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit and most dairy products. In PHASE 2, healthy carbs, including most fruits, whole grains and dairy products are gradually reintroduced, but processed carbs such as bagels, cookies, cornflakes, regular pasta and rice cakes remain on the list of foods to avoid or eat rarely.