Athletics is becoming increasingly competitive. Athletes realise that more stress is being placed on performance. Integral to the ability to perform, and general well-being, is a nutritious diet. Good nutrition should be part of any training program if an athlete wishes to succeed.
Athletes striving for peak performance and stamina require diets high in carbohydrates in order to maintain high energy levels.
Providing the fuel that an athlete’s body needs begins at breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast containing alternative grains that are full of complex carbohydrates can help release energy during strenuous physical activity.
Eating a large and varied assortment of grains is also an important component of an athlete’s eating plan.
The importance of a high carbohydrate diet for both health and performance related issues has been a common theme that health and sports science professionals have discussed and researched for the best part of the last 25 years.
We know that the typical “western diet that derives up to 40% of its total energy in the form of fat can help to increase the incidence of some of the western world’s most common degenerative diseases.
It is also well known that the hard training endurance athlete (like runners or cyclists) need carbohydrate each day to ensure adequate replenishment of the body’s glycogen stores. Until relatively recent times, carbohydrates were viewed as being of one of two classes: (i) simple sugars (like common white sugar) or (ii) complex carbohydrates (like breads and cereals). Over the years we have come to learn that complex carbohydrates are the most nutritious choice.
Research of a more recent nature however suggest that maybe we should look at classifying carbohydrates via a scale known as the “glycemic index.” Simply stated, the glycemic index is a ranking system which rates and compares various carbohydrate based foods in relation to their speed of release of glucose into the bloodstream relative to free glucose which has been given an arbitrary value of 100.
Foods such as legumes (eg: lentils) that provide a slow, but sustained release of glucose into the blood stream without the accompanying “insulin surge” are said to have a “low glycemic index” (lentils are approximately 29), whilst food such as potato, bread and many breakfast cereals have considerably higher glycemic indexes, in some cases almost approaching that of free glucose (potato approximately 98) and as such spill into the bloodstream resulting in an insulin surge and a rebound effect in which blood glucose levels peak quickly, then dwindle almost as quickly in response to the insulin release from the pancreas.
By knowing which types of carbohydrate or carbohydrate based foods, to choose in specific circumstances the athlete can benefit. The implications of this for the endurance athlete are therefore considerable, For example, a lower glycemic index food can consumed a couple of hours prior to prolonged strenuous exercise may provide a sustained, slow release source of ready glucose into the bloodstream to fuel exercising muscles for longer periods of time than higher glycemic index foods, which would provide a quick surge of glucose into the bloodstream and then plummet in response to insulin release.
On the other hand, following exhaustive endurance exercise in which muscle glycogen stores have been emptied it may be in the athlete’s interest to consume a food which has a higher glycemic index.
Research has shown that there is a ‘window in time” of approximately two hours post exercise in which the body most effectively resynthesises muscle glycogen within glycogen depleted muscles. Raised insulin levels associated with higher glycemic index foods, enhance glucose uptake into muscle cells therefore facilitating glycogen resynthesis at a faster rate, meaning the athlete’s muscle glycogen stores will be replenished quicker, allowing for another quality training session to be instigated sooner.
Orgran understands the needs of those of the athletic and fitness community. Orgran offers one of the most comprehensive range of low fat natural foods based on a wide range of carbohydrate sources and nutritional offerings.
This information was provided for general use only. Please seek medical advice from a GP or health professional before considering undertaking any diet.