Carbohydrates in the past few years have been given a bad rap from the world’s weight loss specialists, dieticians and doctors. Restricting carbohydrates will cause weight loss in the short term but the long term risks outweigh the short term benefits.
Here is how carbohydrates play a vital role in many ways.
Carbohydrates are an important fuel for exercise.
- Carbs are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles, and must be re-stocked each day.
- Approximately 100 grams of glycogen(equivalent to 400 calories) may be stored in the liver, and up to 400 grams of glycogen (equivalent to 1600 calories) in muscle cells.
- The purpose of liver glycogen is to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
- When blood glucose dips, glycogen in the liver breaks down to release glucose into the bloodstream.
- The purpose of muscle glycogen is to fuel physical activity.
- The more active your client is and the greater their muscle mass, the higher their carb needs.
THE ROLE IN RECOVERY
To promote rapid post-exercise recovery, experts recommend consuming 1 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour within 30 minutes after exercise and then at 2-hour intervals up to 6 hours.
- If you plan to train again within 8 hours, it is important to begin re-fuelling as soon as possible after exercise.
- Moderate and high glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates will promote faster recovery during this period.
- However, for recovery periods of 24 hours or longer, the type and timing of carbohydrate intake is less critical, although you should choose nutrient-dense sources wherever possible
HOW MUCH AND WHEN
It is recommended that the pre-exercise meal provides between 1 and 4 grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight, depending on exercise intensity and duration, and that this should be consumed between 1 and 4 hours before exercise.
During exercise lasting less than 45 minutes, there is no performance advantage to be gained by consuming additional carbohydrates.
For intense exercise lasting between 45 and 75 minutes, very small amounts of carbohydrates are likely to be beneficial. This may be as little as a single sweet or simply swilling (not swallowing) a carbohydrate drink in your mouth.
For exercise lasting longer than about one hour, consuming between 30 and 60g carbohydrate helps maintain your blood glucose level, spare muscle glycogen stores, delay fatigue and increase your endurance. This amount of carbohydrate needed (30 to 60g) depends on the intensity and duration of exercise, and is unrelated to body size.