Thursday, October 1, 2009

Carbs are good

IMG_4896Yes! Carbohydrates are an integral component to an active lifestyle, especially for endurance athletes.  Having the right amount of fuel at the right time can make or break performance.  Every person is different in their tolerance and there is no one ‘perfect’ equation to it, so it’s important to experiment during training to see what works best.  I know I’m preaching to the choir out there, but here are some general carb guidelines for performance:

In general . . .

  • 50-65% CHO or about 5-10g/kg per day for active
  • 40-50% complex CHO, <10% simple CHO
  • 70% CHO for heavy endurance training, not for long term but for days before a big event
  • CHO is the energy source for anaerobic glycolysis and primary energy source for high intensity activities

Pre-Competition . . .

  • Make sure you have a sound diet during training because you can’t make up for nutritional inadequacies that quickly.
  • Focus on easily digestible/low-fiber foods a 1-2 days before unless your body can handle it
  • Meals should be higher in CHO and relatively lower in protein and fat
    • Protein requires ~7x more water with an additional ~50cc of water lost for each gram of urea produced
  • Stress/Nerves can alter and slow digestion
  • Never try something new right before/during the event

If you have . . . 3-4 hours before the event

  • Nice, big substantial meal
  • 60-70% CHO, low residue/fiber (3-5g/kg)

2 hours before the event

  • Lighter meal (solids and/or liquids depending on the person)
  • 60-70% CHO, low residue/fiber (2g/kg)

1 hour before the event

  • Snack or CHO beverage
  • 60-70% CHO, low residue/fiber (1g/kg)
  • aim for low glycemic index foods or add a little bit of protein (scoop of pb) if reactive hypoglycemia is common)

3 hours = 3g/kg   2 hours = 2g/kg   1 hour = 1g/kg

So depending on how much time you have before the event dictates how much is recommended to eat, but it really depends on the person and their individual tolerance.  Most events are early in the morning and someone isn’t going to get up at 2 am so they can eat a substantial meal.  They would want to make sure they eat/drink something that will satisfy their hunger, replenish and stock their stores lost overnight without causing GI distress.

During the event . . .

This is really only needed when the exercise is intense (~70% VO2 Max) and it will last longer than 1-1.5 hours, and/or if the weather is hot and humid.  Athletes can use 30-60g CHO per hour so it’s important to keep the BS stable and prevent depletion or else the body will just stop or ‘hit the wall’. 

  • Ingest 15-20g CHO every 15-20 min of mixed CHO sources to utilize all the intestinal transporters and maximize absorption.  I just try to shoot for at least 1/2-1L of fluid an hour and a packet of gummies because I can’t stomach the CHO drinks.
  • Avoid only fructose because it can delay gastric emptying and cause GI distress in some.
  • 6-8% CHO solutions are best
  • CHO supplementation before and during events has an additive effect
  • Delaying replenishment until towards the end can increase BG, but not enhance performance

After the event . . .

  • It takes about 20 hours to rebuild glycogen stores
  • 1-1.5g/kg within 15-30 minutes and then 1-1.5g/kg every 2 hours until 7-10g/kg is reached.  This is especially important for the athlete who has another event soon.
  • CHO/PRO has no benefit on glycogen synthesis, but protein is very important for muscle recovery.
  • Most important factor is the AMOUNT of CHO, not necessarily if it is high or low GI, although high GI appears best to maximize stores.

CHO loading is also another strategy athletes use before an event.  A good way to tell if it is working is to watch the trends on the scale.  If you are gaining weight that means you are storing glycogen because for each gram of glycogen, there is 3g of water weight gained.

Because Chris is getting ready to race a century (118 mile) ride in 2 weeks, I’ve been using him as my guinea pig to help him maximize his performance with nutrition.  I think the main thing for him the week before is going to be eating MORE, lots more, to fuel his ride that will take at least 6.5 hours to finish.  The last big ride he burned about 2,800 kcals in 4 hours, wow that’s almost a pound!

Speaking of carbs, I definitely include complex and simple carbs in most of my meals because I’m pretty active, they are healthy and I like them!  I think my favorite type of carb is pasta in any form if you hadn’t noticed by all the pasta recipes I post :)

I went to the farmer’s market today and got lots of goodies:  kabocha (Not to be confused with kambucha tea, so sorry for my misspelling earlier!!), apples, pears, lemon thyme, wild chanterelle mushrooms and vanilla beans.  So many recipe ideas rolling through my brain! 

I decided to experiment with these beauties . . . 


I didn’t really have anything planned for dinner since our leftovers ran out, so I decided on a simple dish:  chanterelle papparadelle with a lemon thyme sauce.  I had never had these mushrooms before and they were very earthy and meaty and went well with the lemon thyme.  I had some of TJ’s lemon pepper pasta leftover and it went well too.  I just sautéed the mushrooms and a shallot, made a roux with butter, flour and non-fat milk (salt, pepper, & a small pinch of cayenne) and added 2 tbsp lemon thyme and mixed it all together.



Overall a quick, satisfying dinner!  I sure wanted to have a glass of sauvignon blanc with this!  FYI:  wine is no good for performance darn-it!  

What are some strategies you use to maximize your performance? 




Anonymous said...

I don't eat carbs to maximize performance because I don't do any long races, but I do eat carbs because it's essential to us and because it's delicious!
papardelle used to be one of my fav pasta.... I never make it at home though :( maybe I'll give it a try! yours looks delicious!

Nicole M., MS, RD, LD said...

Your meal looked delicious...and simple enough for the very un-simple sounding recipe title!

To maximize my performance, I keep my workouts consistent. Skipping too many days really messes me up! I'm no endurance athlete, but that's what keeps me going!

Great post!

MelissaNibbles said...

Great post! The night before a long run I like to eat a dinner made up of protein, complex carbs (usually whole wheat pasta or brown rice), and a green veggie. I workout in the morning so this dinner helps fuel me when I wake up. I normally don't eat anything before I workout. I've tried and my stomach always feels heavy or I'll get major acid reflux.

If I'm not going to have a long run and am just having a normal workout session, I'll eat salad or a protein with green veggies the night before.

Your pictures always come out so clear and beautiful. May I ask what kind of camera you use? Thanks!

The Candid RD said...

Very informative post! I learned about a lot of this in an exercise and nutrition class I took a couple years ago. I think the best strategy I learned was to get plenty of protein and carbs after a workout. I also learned about the benefits of drinking coffee to heal muscles after a long workout. I like to make a coffee cooler after I workout; coffee, ice, milk, yogurt, Purevia! I love it.

Elina said...

OMG - this pasta looks like the most incredible thing ever. I'm obsessed with mushrooms and I recently bought that lemon pasta (after reading your previous post) so I really must make this. Thanks so much for this recipe.
I think I'm going to do some mini-carbo loading tonight before my 9 miler tomorrow :)

Anonymous said...

Your pasta dish looks delish. I sometimes make my roux with a mixture of butter and canola oil. Works every time!

*Naomi* said...

what an informative post! well done :) I am not an endurnace athlete, so I dont focus too much on carbs in that way, BUT i do focus on carbs because they are amazingly tasty and they keep my rocking though my workouts! to keep up my performance, I try to stick to my workout schedule. I have MUCH better results when I am consistant in the gym. that pasta looks great!!

Tiffany! Van said...

That pasta dish looks straight out of a fancy restaurant! It looks soooo good.

Speaking of carbs, I just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on double fiber bread. Haha.

Chow and Chatter said...

great post you should write some sports nutrition articles girl oh and what a yummy pasta

Emily said...

Great post! I learned pretty similar info in my sports nutrition class. It was really interesting, and I actually used some of the principles learned during my half marathon. :-)

Hydration is definitely one thing I use to maximize my performance. I can tell when I haven't had enough fluids when I'm running.

As my FB comment, said..I want to come over for dinner! :-) Too bad we live so far apaaart.

Astra Libris said...

Kristen, your pasta looks incredible!!! I'm a wee bit obsessed with mushrooms, so I've been swooning over your gorgeous photos... :-)

Thank you for the incredible info about carbs, and the proper balance during events! When I used to ride horses competitively I didn't follow any particular sort of method to prepare for competitions, despite the fact that I would be exercising intensely for at least 8 hours during the day, and now, reading the great info you provide, I realize how much I would have benefited from having an R.D. like you to coach me!

Nowadays when I'm running or cycling, I mostly just focus on hydrating... Lots... :-)

Major kudos to Chris for his upcoming century ride!! SO exciting! He's so lucky to have you keeping him in top nutritional shape! :-)

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is said...

That meal looks delish! :)

Elina said...

What were the proportions you used for the roux? It looks so good and I was about to make it but I don't know about the sauce..