Blog Archives

Another Reason to Love the Carbs…

On Blast:  CHO Intake for Athletic Training

It’s spring and I feel like everyone I know is either training for a muddy buddy, a race of some sort, or a triathlon.  The more I visit with these individuals, the more I am surprised by their dietary intake and disdain for our friend, The Carbohydrate (CHO).  Let’s focus on aerobic training (biking, swimming, running, etc.).  As you increase your ability to efficiently intake and utilize oxygen, your body does the same with burning fat.  FACT:  you cannot burn fat without fueling the process with a CHO.  For chem nerds, think of CHOs as that process’ limiting reagent/factor.

CHO Dietary Intake Endurance Results:

  • High-fat diet- maximal endurance time of 57 minutes
  • Normal mixed diet-  endurance rises to 114 minutes
  • High CHO diet– maximal endurance rises to 167 minutes

Verdict:  Athletics should consume between 7 – 10g CHO /kg of body weight per day. 

1 kg = 2.2 lbs.  An athlete weighing 150lbs should consume 477-681 g CHO daily (68.18kg x 7-10g).


Carbs (CHO)…friend or foe

On Blast:  CHO…love ’em or leave ’em?

Did you know that…

  • Your brain runs on carbohydrate.  For healthy individuals, it is not recommended to consume less than 180g per day!  More for endurance athletes.
  • CHOs are the primary fuel for many types of physical activity.
  • Consuming CHO before, during, and arter exercise can be imperative for optimal performance.
  • Inadequate intake can result in difficulty maintaining activity.
  • CHO are the preferred fuel for high-intensity work.
  • The only source of high-intensity/short duration fuel can be glucose (a CHO).
  • Carbon for Carbon, fat ( 4.62 kcal/L O2) delivers more ATP (energy) than CHO (5.10 kcal/L O2), but requires more oxygen to do so…so the end equation shows CHO to be the best fuel source.
  • A low CHO diet (5% of diet) will provide only 1/5 the muscle storage glycogen than a high CHO diet (82%) in athletes.  Think about that.  You will only be able to do 1/5 the workload on a low CHO diet.
  • In another study, runners on a high CHO diet covered a 30k distance faster than those who consume a diet with a normal level of CHO.  They had greater muscle glycogen stores = more work accomplished.  They did not run faster in the beginning, but the stores prevented them from slowing in the end.
  • CHO loading was more effective in men than women.  Women tend to have higher fat oxidation  (burning) and lower protein/CHO oxidation.  Men tend to burn more protein and CHO during intensity.  Therefore, it tends to benefit women less and men more to load up on CHOs before an endurance event.
  • Research shows that consuming ~4.5g CHO*/kg of your body weight (2.2 lbs = 1 kg) 2-4 hrs before exercise will help restore CHO reserves in muscle, maintain blood sugar levels, and improve endurance performance. (*The closer to the event, the less CHO you should eat and the more time before the event, the more CHO you should eat.  Just prior to event, just eat what you need to stay hydrated.)

Verdict:  You better learn to love them (especially if you’re an athlete), but choose your CHOs wisely!

Should Athletes be Hunters and Gatherers?

On Blast:  Recommending Paleolithic Diet for Athletes?

Also known as the “Caveman Diet” or the “Stone Age Diet,” the Paleolithic diet is constructed of mass amounts of lean meat, fish, vegetables, roots, fruit and nuts.  Omitted, when compared to Western diets, are our friends:  low-fat dairy and whole grains.  Below you will find the Paleolithic Diet Pyramid.

According to Dr. Lindeberg of Sweden, his paleo diet consists of 15-35% of energy derived from protein and “is not necessarily low in carbohydrate.”  He also notes that energy intake from carbohydrate within his observational population of Kitava was nearly 70%.  The majority of this was in simple carbohydrates, rather than complex carbohydrates.  Dr. Lindeberg also expresses little regard for the nutritional quality of “whole grain cereals or beans” as they “provide no known benefit but may increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.”  Unfortunately for him/us/anyone spending time reading his article, he does not reference his inference (cannot call it anything but inference, as the benefit of beans and whole grains is well-documented).  Additionally, Dr. Lindeberg feels that the exclusion of dairy merely decreases calcium intake (I think he forgot about protein, carbohydrate, vitamin D, riboflavin, and P+).

In direct contrast, Dr. Dan Benardot’s publication, Advanced Sports Nutrition, acknowledges the USDA’s carbohydate DRI of 130g/day in average adults (and that’s just to maintain brain function!).  He suggests a carbohydrate intake of 55-65% of total calories for athletes.  Dr. Bendardot details the necessity of athletes to consume enough carbohydrate in order to meet the tremendous energy need of their training programs and necessary muscle glycogen store restoration.  Post workout (up to 4 hours), he recommends athletes consume “1.0-1.2g of carbohydrate/kg of body mass per hour.”  Remember, no grains in paleo diet…so how many cups of peas (higher starchy vegetable) would you need to eat in 4 hours?  About 7!  Or 6 cups of fresh carrots.  Additionally, he explains that carbohydrate intake prior to training should be of the complex carbohydrate category and that simple carbohydrates should be ingested during work outs or immediately after, when needed.  For the athlete’s recovery, Dr. Benardot’s typical carbohydrate recommendation is 7-12g/kg of body mass daily.  Pretty hard to do without grains in our diets.

While this diet seems to work well in Papua New Guinea (one of the most rural places in the world) amongst the Kitavans, I would avoid it at all costs. 

Verdict:  Svaret är nej!  Which is Swedish for “The answer is no!”