Carbohydrate is the body’s #1 source of energy; it fuels daily living and exercise activity. Because carbohydrate is the body’s #1 source of energy, it digests very quickly and leaves you hungry soon after eating or feeling tired. So…the goal is to choose whole grain/whole wheat foods that contain fiber which slows down digestion and keeps your blood sugar from spiking. Also, adding protein and fat to carbohydrate slows down digestion and helps maintain blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrate is also stored in the muscle and liver; the storage form of carbohydrate is called glycogen; it is what you rely on for energy during long bouts of exercise. You store approximately 300-400 grams (1200-1600 calories) of glycogen in you muscle and about 75-100 grams (300-400 calories) in your liver. Your liver stores help regulate your blood sugar; so after a night of sleep your liver stores are depleted. This is why you need to include good carbohydrate in your breakfast! Your muscle stores are used during exercise which is why you need carbohydrate immediately post-exercise…you need to replenish the glycogen lost or you will not fully recover and will start the next day with less than 100% of your energy stores.
Main source of energy for the body
Body’s #1 fuel during exercise
Fuel for brain, nervous system, & red blood cell function
Helps maintain blood sugar levels
Types of Carbohydrates
• Simple: jelly, cookies, sweets, hard candy, honey, fruit
• Complex: bread, oats, pasta, rice, cereals, bagels
How much should be in your diet?
55-70% depending on activity levels with the majority coming from complex carbohydrates Approximately 6-11 servings / day—very individualized, but athletes should eat at the upper end.
• Whole wheat bread / rolls
• Whole wheat tortillas / wraps
• Oat-based granola bars
• Wheat/grain cold cereals
• Multi-grain / wheat pasta
What is a Serving?
• 1 slice bread
• 6” tortilla
• 3/4 cup cold cereal
• 1/2 cup potato
• 1 granola bar
• Whole wheat bagels
• Whole wheat crackers
• Brown/wild rice
• Sweet potato w/skin
• 1/2 small bagel / muffin
• 1/2 cup corn / peas / beans
• 1/2 cup hot cereal
• 1/3 cup pasta / rice
• 8-10 small crackers
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine and serves as the sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Soccer Dallas, Jim McClean Golf School, Texas Christian University Athletics, and University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. In addition, she is an adjunct professor and dietetic intern preceptor for Texas Woman’s University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington and is a state media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. . She received her Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Masters in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.