Carb Needs Depend on Activity

Grain foodsThe amount of glycogen (carbohydrate energy) that can be stored varies among individuals. Generally, the maximum amounts we can store in muscle and liver (the primary storage areas) are:

• Muscle glycogen = 300-400 grams (g) or 1,200 to 1.600 calories

• Liver glycogen = 75–100 g or 300 to 400 calories (Liver glycogen stores maintain blood glucose levels both at rest and during exercise.)

Guys eating huge sandwichAfter the glycogen stores are depleted, the athlete “hits the wall.” To avoid this, glycogen stores need to be kept full prior to activity, then carbohydrate needs to be replenished during and after. The typical US diet supplies 4 to 5 g carbohydrate/kg daily. The amount of carbohydrate an athlete should consume is dependent on activity status. In order to maintain peak glycogen levels for energy, athletes need to consume carbohydrates as follows:

• General training needs = 5 to 7 g/kg/day

• Endurance activities = 7 to 10 g/kg/day

• Ultra-endurance activities = more than 11g/kg/day

{Note: To determine your weight in kilograms (kg), divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.}

Good carbohydrate foods are fruits and juices, breads, cereals, pastas, beans, starchy vegetables and low-fat/fat-free dairy products. Eating occasions just before activity may require increased selectivity of food and drink, as some individuals don’t tolerate certain foods or beverages just before a workout or competition. A registered dietitian can analyze your diet and determine what foods/beverages need to be added, when they should be added and in what amounts, to meet the carbohydrate levels and other nutritional requirements for both your performance and health needs. Marathon, here I come!!!

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