The importance of carbohydrates
Why are carbohydrates so important? The reason for this is that our bodies can only store limited amounts of carbohydrates, so a regular ‘top up’ is required. In fact, our bodies can only store carbohydrates for up to 30 minutes of sport or exercise. This means consuming small amounts of carbohydrates on a regular basis to ensure optimum performance.
Carbohydrates not only fuel the muscles but provide vital energy for the brain and nervous system.
Carbohydrate is needed to provide energy for any physical activity, but especially endurance events. If you participate in marathons, triathlons (in particular ‘Ironman’ events) or long distance cycling then your energy requirements are higher than for most people which places undue stress on your carbohydrate stores.
One answer is to ‘carb load’ before your event: this is a popular dietary method in which the athlete increases their carbohydrate intake above normal levels in order to reduce the risk of ‘glycogen depletion’ and fatigue.
Glycogen depletion occurs when your body uses up its supply of glycogen during exercise. If this happens then your energy levels will drop and you will become fatigued that much quicker. This leads to a drop in performance and can increase the risk of an injury.
Sports Nutrition Guide Index:
- Sports Nutrition Intro
- Are nutritional requirements the same for every sport?
- Nutrition and types of sports
- Good food choices for sport and exercise
- The importance of carbohydrates
- But what is ‘glycogen?’
- How much carbohydrate do I need?
- Fluid intake
- How much water is enough?
- Sports supplements