Carbs and the role they play in the diet can be confusing if you over think it.
Its not a matter of cutting them out completely or overloading on them at every meal but including them at effective times to prepare for the training session you have coming up so you can appropriately pre load energy to burn.
Planning and preloading fuel stores to prepare for training & competition so you have energy to burn is just as important, if not more important, as considering what you will eat after you have trained to recover when you finish.
Having fuel from carbohydrates available to use effective for performance is especially important in high intensity, short burst activity where glucose is the primary fuel source for peak power and equally important with a multi-day event or high training load which involves multiple sessions a day. Some athletes may be unsure and either eat too many carbohydrates and feel full and lethargic or not enough and feel flat. How much exactly in total will depend on athlete body size, training and performance goals.
The amount for an 80kg athlete with moderate training can range between 300-500g of carbohydrates.
This is best distributed over the day through regular snacks ranging between 30-60g of carbs and pre training meals (3-4 hours before) up to 80g of carbs.
Keeping carb stores accessible and regularly topping up energy is far more efficient for the body to train for performance rather than depleting all stores, performing poorly, and having to eat excessive portions at night to make up for what you have missed during the day to regain some energy which may not meet performance or physical goals you are working towards.
Having a substantial good quality carb load in the hours before you train, during a training session that goes longer than 90 minutes, very high intensity session or back to back training session will help to boost carb stores for the training session you are about to do.
The options below include carbohydrates to have at main meal and also some simple low fibre, low fat, high carb options for an added energy boost before a training session is done – these are particularly good to have during back to back session or before early starts to get your body started.
The following list demonstrates some portion sizes of carb foods so you can see if you are having either too much or not enough when you eat. Note that this suggestion is just the carb component of the meal and not a whole meal, which means total kilojoules for each suggestion will vary.
- 1 slice bread
- 1 oat based muesli bar
- 3 milk arrowroot biscuits
- 1 cup fresh fruit salad
- 1 large apple
- 1 sports gel
- 2 fresh dates
- 1 Tbs Honey
- One serve of Musashi Bulk Protein
- 2 thin slices of bread with 2 tsp honey
- 400ml orange juice
- ¾ cup cereal with light milk
- 1 pita wrap or tortilla
- 2 regular slices raisin bread
- 220g tin spaghetti
- Banana in a slice of bread
- 4 corn thins + 2 tsp honey
- 500ml Powerade
- 2 large slices of bread (Helga’s)
- 200g tub low fat yoghurt
- 7 corn thins or 6 cruskits
- 2 scoops of Powerade powder
- Muesli bar + large piece of fruit
- Tubes of custard + piece fruit
- 2 oat based muesli bars
- 7 jelly babies lollies
- 1 large bread roll
- ¾ cup cooked pasta
- 1 cup sweet potato
- 2 slices of bread with jam
- 1 cup cooked pasta
- 1 banana in a bread roll
- 1 packet low fat 2 min noodles
- 3 scoops Powerade powder
- Large banana and a 600ml Powerade
- 5 thin slices of bread
- 4 slice bread + 1 piece fruit
- 2 bread rolls with sandwich fillings
- 200g yoghurt and 1 cup tinned fruit OR fruit salad
- 4 cruskits and 500ml Powerade
- 2 cups cooked pasta
- 1.5 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup cooked rice and a tortilla
- 1.5 cups pasta + 1 large potato
- 1.5 cup pasta + 2 slice bread
- 2 cups nutri grain
- 7 weetbix with milk
Eating around competition & fuelling long sessions
Having glucose available to use is far more efficient and effective for performance so there is fuel ready to be used. This is especially true in high intensity, short burst activity where glucose is the primary fuel source for peak power.
If training with low levels of carbohydrates the body may turn to breaking down muscle to get through the session, or slow down to match limited energy present.
Having a substantial good quality carb load in the hours before you train, during a training session that goes longer than 60 minutes or is very high intensity means the body has fuel available to push itself more and perform better. This also includes having a top up of carbohydrates during a back to back session like gym and then a skills session.
For an added energy boost before that second effort is done, have a simple low fibre, low fat, high carb options like a banana, cruskits, powerade or any of the options above, up to 1g/kg body weight, to help maintain energy stores through the session rather than trying to chase your tail after training or competition is done.