Carbohydrates and Exercise

November 18, 2010

A variety of studies show that a diet high in carbohydrates increases athletic performance by providing efficient delivery of energy. Carbohydrates work by breaking down into easily absorbable simple sugars (glucose, fructose and galactose), which are then used as energy. Simple sugars not used remain easily converted into energy in the form of glycogen, which is stored in muscles and the liver. Glycogen is the source of energy most often used during exercise, it's accessibility makes the ideal fuel for intense bursts of energy needed in a variety of exercise regimens from sprinting to weightlifting. Once these muscle and liver stores are filled, the extra glucose gets stored as fat.  The resulting fat contains more potential energy than carbs, but is delivered at a much slower rate than carbohydrates. On the other hand, when carbohydrate intake is inadequate,  protein is broken down to make glucose for energy. Proteins are the building blocks for muscles, bones, hair and tissue, therefore using protein for energy limits the ability to build muscle and maintain tissue. That can compromise your workout! Your best bet is a diet rich in low-glycemic carbohydrates, like whole grains, beans, and vegetables. That way you'll lose weight, reduce your risk of disease, and get the most out of every workout! Remember, always contact your doctor before making any diet changes as related to your medical condition.

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