athletes engaged in endurance sports — like running, cycling
or swimming for more than two to three hours at a time —
carbohydrates are a necessity to provide fuel to the muscles
and are critical to go the distance. Registered dietitian and
nutritionist Erica Goldstein offers a variety of tips to help
athletes understand the best foods and options for carb
loading during training.
top question I’m usually asked is what I should be eating
during training," says Goldstein, who sees patients on
Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.
it’s important to understand what a carbohydrate is, she
is stored in the body in the form of glycogen, which is
basically links of glucose — or sugar — stored in large
amounts. Glycogen can be broken down during continual exercise
to provide energy for muscle contraction," she explains.
glucose and sucrose are three forms of carbohydrates. These
can be found in a variety of foods, including: fruits, like
bananas, raisins and dates; and starch, like potatoes, pasta
course, there are a variety of sports-specific gels, chews and
performance bars developed for athletes.
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can only store so much glycogen, so it is essential to consume
carbohydrates during prolonged exercise, usually greater than
an hour, to continue to provide energy to working muscle.
"Otherwise, you may compromise your ability to finish
your training," Goldstein says.
to research, she recommends consuming carbohydrates based on
the intensity and duration of training.
grams after the first 60 minutes is enough for training
lasting 60-90 minutes
grams per hour after the first two to two and a half hours
grams per hour after three hours, dependent on high-intensity
exercise (~75 percent of maximal effort)
advises athletes vary the types of carbohydrate consumed.
"Mix it up; see what works for your body and what you can
tolerate," she advises. She also recommends reviewing
food labels to determine total grams of carbohydrates in a
product, as well as the specific ingredients (e.g., glucose,