Carbohydrate Fuelling for Athletes

This blog is for all our competitive athletes out there..

Fuelling your training properly controls factors associated with fatigue and decline in performance levels.

sprint athlete

Athletes participate in certain dieting structures to avoid:

  • Depletion of glycogen stores (glucose stored in the muscles) leading to muscle breakdown

  • Hypoglycaemia (low carbohydrates in the blood)

  • Central nervous system fatigue (neurotransmitter synapse/communication fatigue)

  • Dehydration (lack of water)

  • Hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood)

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort and upset

Many of these factors are controlled by ensuring their carbohydrate timing and intake is sufficient to their fuel their energy requirements.


Carbohydrates is a 'non-essential' macronutrient. Upon digestion, they are absorbed and utilised as 'glucose' in the body and provides energy to our working muscles and organs.

However, they are 'non-essential' due to our liver compensating for lack of carbohydrates through creating glucose from non-carbohydrates sources (gluconeogenesis)

Your liver has an EXTREMELY potent and important role in digestion. It filters through all our absorbed nutrients, utilising them and excreting consumed toxins. As mentioned before, it also has the ability to make glucose when there is none.

This is a critical function in times of chronic stress, usually when food scarcity is apparent. Using our other nutrients to create glucose by the liver, may alter other functions of the body overtime and deter muscle growth, maintenance and repair. Therefore, consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrates will support your training journey and progress without the additional stress placed on the liver.

General Fuelling:

  • Athletes can fuel up with carbohydrates for optimal muscle glycogen storage, usually the day prior to an endurance based event less than 90 minutes.

  • 7-12g/kg BM/d per 24 hours

Carbohydrate Loading

  • Increases your carbohydrate levels above baseline to maximise muscle glycogen stores prior to an endurance based event lasting more than 90 minutes.

  • 10-12g/kg/d for 36-48hours

Refuelling

  • Once the event concludes, refuelling is vital to promote muscle recovery, energy repletion.

  • Carbohydrates consumed after training stimulates the release of insulin, assisting to build muscle by transporting carbohydrates to depleted muscles.

  • Training synthesises and damages muscles at the same time therefore, pairing carbohydrates with protein will aid in the recovery of catabolised muscle while promoting muscle protein synthesis (building new muscle)

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