Raise your hand if you are afraid of carbs? This past month we’ve been focusing on nutrition and the questions about carbs came in by the loaf full. Let’s dig deep into this macronutrient with the help of our amazing friend and nutrition coach Jordan Langhough.
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fiber found in the foods you eat. Starches and sugars provide energy and fibers passes mostly undigested through your digestive system. Carbs are one of the three macronutrients our bodies need to function each day. Carbohydrates are what provides our body with the energy needed to do all the things. As athletes, our diets should be about 55 - 65 percent carbs. Now don’t get scared because we know you are probably thinking that sounds like a lot.
First, let’s debunk this fear and the weight gain associated with carbs. “Eating carbs is not true weight,” says Jordan. “Weight gain from eating carbs is water weight and can fluctuate 6 pounds or more on any given day. Now that you do not have reason to fear them, let’s start eating them.
Like all things, consuming carbohydrates in moderation helps to fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system.
Your body stores extra carbs in your muscles and liver for us when you’re not getting enough carbohydrates. If you’re not consuming enough carbs in your diet, it may lead to a deficiency that can lead to fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation, bad breath and vitamins and mineral deficiencies.
Right now you might be asking yourself the question, “How many carbs does my body need?”
Jordan’s answer, “It depends on the following…”
As athletes we need carbs to provide us with the energy to perform our movement at hand but as we move, we also need to think about replacing the carbs lost. If you are cutting carbs you might stay to experience a loss of energy and yours run may start to feel harder. Our muscles use glycogen to keep our bodies in motion and it comes directly from carb sources.
Remember when you would hit the wall at a race? Hitting the wall is when you do not have enough stored glycogen in your muscles. At that point you are already at a point of depletion and trying to get out of that deficit can be a real struggle bus. If you can stomach it, aim to eat some carbs before your workouts. For those early morning runners, if you can tolerate it aim for about 30 grams of carbs before you head out the door. Right now we are jamming on Vital Performance’s Pre Workout + a banana.
If you really cannot stomach anything, try to get in a few extra carbs at dinner the night before.
Now time to talk about carbs and preventing hitting the wall on those longer runs and workouts.
For workouts 45 minutes or less, focus on your water intake. For those 45-75+ try to add carbs back into your body every 20 -30 minutes. The following is a crazy system we came up with when last marathon training for hydration and fuel.
0:15 - Sip of water
0:30 - 1 SaltStick tab
0:45 - Sip of water
1:00 - 1/2 Honey Stinger Waffle
1:15 - Sip of water with 1 SaltStick tab
1:30 - Blocks or gels
1:45 - Sip of water
2:00 - 1/2 Honey Stinger Waffle
Repeat as needed
This might feel like you are eating and drinking the entire time but in honest, you need to on those long sweat sessions. You are putting a lot into your body and it is putting a lot of energy out so make sure it’s staying as fueled as you need it.
As we start to talk about that post-workout, don’t go thinking that you are done with carbs. Once you are finished it is vital that you refuel those muscles and restore glycogen. Not enough carbs post-workout can lead to low blood sugar. It is recommended that you enjoy 1-1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour for the first four hours after exercise + 20 grams of protein.
And you know we couldn’t make it through this post without a quote from one of our favorite movies of all time…
“Is butter a carb?”
While the answer to that is no, all of the delicious foods below are carbs for you to stock up on.
Don’t fear the carbs. You need them! Have any other nutrition questions you want answered? Drop a comment below.