Carbohydrates for sport

Should athletes take a lot of carbohydrates?

Importance of carbohydrates in sports

Carbohydrates should be the macronutrients par excellence in sport. Carbohydrates give us the energy that our body needs, although they are not the only ones from which we can obtain this energy, nor those that contribute us more.

Each gram of carbohydrate we eat gives us 4 calories. Due to these characteristics, our body’s muscles use this energy in order to be able to perform activities that require an energy expenditure such as sports.

What happens if we do not eat enough carbohydrates?

If we do not bring this energy through this source, and exercise some physical activity, it will decrease the storage of glycogen that controls muscle contraction and relaxation and our body will create energy through other macronutrients such as fats or muscle protein itself.

Therefore, we must meet the needs of carbohydrate intake, contributing between 55 and 65% of our total daily energy intake.

Which carbohydrates are best suited for sport?

Not all types of carbohydrates are the same or absorbed equally. There are so-called complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly and slowly in our body, so they should be part of the athlete’s diet, especially those who practice endurance sports and need a durable energy source.

The sources that contain them are mainly cereals and farinaceous, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, bread or vegetables.

complex carbohydrate foods

Some examples of complex carbohydrate foods

What about simple carbohydrates?

Simple carbohydrates are absorbed more quickly. The food sources that contain them are, for example, fruits, whether fresh or dried, derivatives thereof, such as jams or jams, sweets with and without added sugars and foods such as milk (even if it is skimmed, which is Has removed is the fat and not the sugars it contains).

One of its most common utilities for athletes, thanks to its rapid absorption, is to generate a peak of blood glucose, in order to maintain this level and avoiding a drop of sugar, which can cause, for example, a fainting spell and Repercussions such as trauma.

Many athletes make constant and very sustained contributions of glucose, during a very intense and lasting activity, for this purpose.

complex carbohydrate foods

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates

Carbohydrates should be appropriately combined with proteins

If we make a correct contribution of carbohydrates, a hormone in the blood, called insulin, increases, This hormone has an anabolic function that stimulates the perfection of tissues like the musculature, so obviously, in combination with a correct protein supply, you will get a muscular increase in a correct and healthy way.

We must take into account that, depending on when the administration of carbohydrates occurs, some or other muscular needs will be covered. That is, if we make the intake before or during the same physical activity, it will be used for muscle development.

However, if the ingestion is carried out a posteriori of this activity, our body will use it as a muscle regenerator and will keep the storage of glycogen lost during the exercise performed.

* Related information:

An ideal fruit for doing sports

Coconut for athletes

Guayaba for sportsmen

Acai, ideal food for athletes,

Weekly diet for competition and training

red dot More information on natural vegetarian food for sport.


This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 May, 2022

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