Female 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:
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.
|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|
|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|