The truth about carbs

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If you want to play sport then you need to consume plenty of carbohydrates. That goes for any level of competition. You need your body to have the right amount of energy so that you can reach and sustain your peak athletic performance.

Poor old ‘carbs’ have had their detractors in recent times – with fashionable diets urging people to shun them – but you need them, especially if you’re playing sport. Your diet shouldn’t be about getting thin; it’s about getting fit.

What are ‘carbs’ and why are they important?

As this Fysiqal Carb Guide shows, carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibres that your body breaks down and transforms into energy. They will power your sporting activity. Without enough carbohydrates you’ll feel tired and weak and your body might well start to rob energy from your protein and divert that away from its important task of repair and recovery for your muscles.

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How much do we need in our diet?

The key to any diet is balance and the key to balance is in tailoring your food and drink consumption to suit your own circumstances. One gram of carbohydrate, in essence, equates to about four calories of energy. About half of your daily intake should be made up of carbohydrates – and maybe slightly more if you are involved in a high-energy sporting pastime. As a rule of thumb, a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet needs to include about 250g of carbohydrates.

Getting those ‘good carbs’ into your meal plan

So, how do you do that then? Avoid the sugary snacks and take on board the following tips to get your intake just right:

  • ‘Refined’ products – such as white rice and bread – have had some of their goodness stripped away. Make sure you stick to wholegrain and wholemeal bread, rice and pasta instead
  • Legumes and beans will keep you full up and contain fibre and protein to make them an all-round good diet choice
  • Fruit such as bananas and apples gives you a good boost of something sweet
  • Nuts might contain fat but it’s the right type of fat and is good in moderation. Almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, for example, contain plenty of benefits beyond adding to your ‘carb intake’
  • Upping the amount of vegetables in your diet will help. Carrots, peas, parsnips, potatoes and squashes are among the best performing veg to stock up on
  • Seeds such as chia or pumpkin make for good snacks while you’re stuck behind the desk in the office.

If you want to succeed in sport then you need to ‘know your carbs’. Understand what they are, how they work and the best ways to consume the right amount in your daily diet to ensure you have the energy you need.

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