Choosing the right carbs for training

2013-01-05 00:00

ENERGY replacement has become a contentious issue in South Africa and will remain a key issue for runners in the next few months.

Much has been written about the need and benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet and this is an issue that is set to change the “carbohydrate epidemic” of the past two decades that has resulted in unprecdented levels of obesity.

The challenge for runners is to keep focus on the relative importance of carbohydrates with their training.

Most literature circulating refers to the average person, whereas hard training runners require some modification before, during and after substantial exercise.

As important as it is to be cautious on the amount of carbohydrate, it is also important to choose the type of carbohydrates carefully.

Anything prior to the training session should be on the low glycemic index (i.e. has slow absorption). This prevents blood sugar spikes while allowing some energy reserves prior to their use particularly during the faster/ quality work.

Ideal in this situation is to use a litre of 32 GI Endure up to 30 minutes prior to training.

The need for energy during the training session will tend to be minimal at present, as this is relatively short-duration work, and as long as you replenish the energy stores after the session, there should be no need for additional carbohydrates.

However, when your session is over, particularly the fast or strength/high quality sessions, it is best to take some carbohydrate and protein within the first 10 to 15 minutes of finishing.

Here you want a small amount of high glyceamic index sugars, as this will first raise the blood sugar, then drop it by flooding the body with insulin, and it is the insulin that pulls the other nutrients into the muscle to aid recovery.

Here, a drink of 32GI Accelerate can pre-empt drinking or eating some protein, or alternatively use the 32GI Recovery drink immediately after training, as this combines carbohydrates and recovery nutrients.

The important aspect here is that the sooner and better you recover, the sooner you can commence training again. The sooner you train, the greater the adaptation/fitness you can achieve.

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