For all people that train, but in particular any athlete or fitness fanatic who is doing a reasonable volume (7-10 hours a week) of training or competing it is important that they consume an adequate amount of carbohydrate in their diet. The reason for this is that carbohydrate is the body’s preferred and most easily utilised fuel. So if your total hours of training fit somewhere into this category, then you are going to have to consume 7-10g of carbohydrate per kg of bodyweight per day. If you’re training 15-20 hours a week then you’ll need to consume as much as 12g of carbohydrate per kg of bodyweight to maintain your body’s glycogen stores.
The majority of those carbohydrates should come from low glycaemic index foods (e.g. wholegrain bread, some cereals, most types of pasta and some types of rice).
For optimal performance you also need to be aware of the type of carbohydrate you should consume pre and post training or competition. In the two hours prior to training or competition you should consume 1-2g of carbohydrate per kg of bodyweight, this needs to be low GI to ensure that the energy is released slowly and evenly and at about the time of your training/competition. If your training or competition lasts longer than 90 minutes then you should begin to consume 0.2-0.6g of high GI carbohydrate (e.g. sports drink) per kg per hour at the 90 min mark, as the body’s carb levels will be nearing depletion at this point. Within the first hour of finishing your training or competition you need to consume 1-2g/kg of high GI carbohydrate (e.g. some cereals, white bread, baked potatoes, sports drinks), as this will be more quickly absorbed than low GI carbohydrates.
These guidelines are more applicable to athletes with a moderate to high volume of training. However carbohydrate selection is an important nutritional aspect for all people to be aware of.
1 slice of bread = 10-15g of carbohydrate
2 weet-bix = 20g
1 banana = 20-25g
1 600ml Powerade = 48g