The consumption of carbohydrates for performance has the power to enhance your athletic ability. The main goal with nutrition and adventure is to eat nutrient-dense foods. These healthy foods provide your body with everything it needs to perform at the highest level. No matter the talent or experience, your body cannot perform without the proper fuel. In fact, if you want to take your adventure game to the next level, it all starts with your diet.
There are a ton of different diets out there. However, supplying your body with the nutrients needed for energy does not have to be a hard task. So, forget trying a complicated diet plan. These are difficult to follow in the long run. Instead, take the simple approach to consume nutrient-dense foods. These foods will fuel your body and enhance your athletic performance. Additionally, you will still get to enjoy your life with the occasional cheat meals. The key to diet is about balance.
Understanding the Basics: Carbohydrates Impact Performance
The proper nutrition boosts your energy, has you feeling better, increases your concentration, and enhances your athletic performance. So, now is the time to change your diet. It will impact all areas of your life. The difference can be incredible, especially with accomplishing your adventure goals. Performance is dependent on several categories. These factors include your intake of total calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fluids, vitamins, and minerals.
A healthy diet can be basic and easy to follow, while still tasting delicious. First, once you understand the basics behind providing your body with the right foods it becomes a breeze to meal prep healthy foods. All it takes is some research and time management. With this in mind, think about the times you make poor diet choices. Mostly, it is when you are rushing and do not have the right foods waiting for you in the fridge. Taking the time to meal prep can change the habit of eating out or consuming junk.
The three major nutrients you need in large numbers are carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. These nutrients provide the energy for all cellular reactions within your body. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Therefore, these are needed in the largest amount of the three.
Carbohydrates for Performance
Carbohydrates are crucial for your overall health. Performance is in response to carbohydrate consumption. During intense physical activity, carbohydrates are used as energy for your body. The key is to supply your body with the right carbohydrates at the best times.
There are three types of carbohydrates, simple, complex, and dietary fiber. Simple are quickly broken down into glucose, thus spiking your blood sugar. The spike in blood sugar causes crashes. The energy is short and not sustainable. In fact, the body may require a quick source of energy at certain times, but for the most part will benefit greater with complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs digest slowly, providing the body with an energy source for an extended period without the crash.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is crucial for performance. Glucose allows all parts of the body to function, especially the brain. A continuous supply is necessary when training or out on an adventure. Peak mental and physical performance is relying on a steady supply of glucose. If you are looking to push your limits, than make sure to stock up on complex carbohydrates.
Storage of Glucose
Altogether, you body needs glucose to function properly. However, when the body has more glucose than it needs at the current time, it will store the excess. The stored glucose is called glycogen. Then, as the body needs more energy, the glycogen is broken back down into glucose. Glycogen is released into the bloodstream, to maintain fuel for the body. A lack of glycogen causes a decline in performance.
Glucose and glycogen depletion cause your body fatigue. The replenishment of glucose is required on endurance adventures. Therefore, consume carbohydrate-rich meals in the days prior to an adventure. The days leading up to an adventure are just as important as the actual day. Plan to consume snacks throughout the day to replenish your energy levels.
The Type of Carbohydrate Matters for Performance
Every adventure athlete needs carbohydrates for performance. Typically, you should aim to consume 45% to 65% of your total calories per day from carbohydrates. These foods help to support energy, muscle growth, and reduce muscular breakdown.
Simple carbohydrates break down quickly. You must limit your consumption to prevent large drops in your energy and productivity. The large spikes create uncontrollable crashes. The lack of energy, motivation, and focus prevent a solid athletic performance. Use these sparingly. The best time is when you need quick energy. Occasionally, simple carbohydrates will be the top choice. However, do not rely on these as a source of consistent energy. Consume these right before, during, or after strenuous exercise. Otherwise, use in minimal amounts throughout the day and replace with complex.
Another type is complex carbohydrates. The slow digestion creates a longer source of energy for your body. As your primary source, the majority of your carbohydrates should fall into this category. During a prolonged period of activity, the addition of these foods into your diet will provide for an improvement in endurance. You will avoid fatigue for a much greater period of time, and will prevent the constant cycle of crashes.
For the most part, consume these sources with all your meals throughout the day. You will notice a difference in mental clarity, mood, and physical performance with healthier, slow digesting carbohydrate sources.
Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. The two types play different roles in the body: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is responsible for improved cardiovascular health and regulating blood sugar. Fiber works in the body to slow the digestion of sugar. The consumption of fiber prevents huge blood sugar spikes after meals. The main goal of insoluble fiber is to promote bowel health.
Soluble fiber can be found in a variety of foods including:
Insoluble fiber can be found in these foods:
The recommendation is to consumes 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. Fiber is an important part to health. In conclusion, fiber promotes gut and cardiovascular health to assist you with improving your performance. As shown above, you can find more information on fiber consumption at Medical News Today.
Healthy Sources of Carbohydrates
- Buckwheat or Quinoa
- Whole-Wheat Pasta (substitute with lentils, chickpeas, black beans, or quinoa)
- Acorn or Butternut Squash
- Sourdough or Whole-Wheat Bread
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peas, and beans)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Bananas, Apples, Blueberries, and Cherries
- Cold Potatoes (digestible turn in to resistant starches promoting fat oxidation)
In conclusion, the addition of these foods will supply your body with healthy carbohydrates to keep you at optimal performance. Check out more information on carbohydrates at Optimum Nutrition.