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Carbs Do An Athletes Body Good

March 23, 2009 by Coach Ronda in Athlete Nutrition with 0 Comments

CarbohydratesFemale athletes benefit the most from the amount of carbohydrates stored in the body.  According to eMedicine, carbohydrate needs are commonly based on an athlete’s body size and activity level.

Individuals engaged in moderate-duration, low-intensity exercise require 5-7 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.  By contrast, those participating in long-duration, high-intensity exercise require 7-10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.  (To determine your body weight in kilograms, divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2.)

Some examples of sports that require a high carbohydrate intake include:

  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Cycling
  • Distance Running
  • Triathlons
  • Swimming

There are three important carbohydrate sources in the body.  These are carbohydrates stored in the liver (liver glycogen), carbohydrates stored in the muscle (muscle glycogen) and carbohydrates stored in blood sugar (blood glucose).

Because carbohydrates are stored in the body in limited amounts, maintaining a good dietary supply is therefore important for female athletes.  Research has shown that athletes who eat a generous supply of dietary carbohydrates can experience significant improvement in training intensity, duration and performance.

Generally, the best choices of carbohydrates are naturally occurring sources of sugars (found in fruit, vegetables and milk) and of complex carbohydrates (found in bread, potatoes, cereals, pasta and grains).  This is because they come with a “package” of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.

It is important for athletes to learn to read food labels so they can track their carbohydrate intake.  Carbohydrates should be consumed about 2-3 hours before strenuous training or an event.  Some sample food choices along with their carbohydrate content (in grams) are listed below.

Sample Carbohydrates Sources
Fruits & Vegetables:
1 medium apple 21 8 ounces apple juice 30
8 ounces orange juice 28 16 ounces grape juice 83
1 medium banana 26 ½ cup raisins 50
1 medium pear 25 1 large sweet potato 28
1 baked potato 34 ½ cup corn 21
Dairy Products:
8 ounces milk 12 1 cup chocolate milk 26
½ cup pudding 30 1 cup yogurt 42
½ cup blackeyed peas 22 ½ cup pinto beans 21
½ cup green peas 12 ½ cup lima beans 20
2 slices whole wheat bread 25 1 cup cereal 24
½ cup oatmeal 12 1 cup cream of wheat 30
1 cup rice 50 1 medium bagel 31
1 cup pasta 34 1 hamburger bun 21


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