Carbohydrates always occupy a special position for their important role in training and performance:
Glycogen, apart from being a muscle substrate also plays a critical role in supporting the muscle’s adaptation to training. Any recommendation on carbs intake should be done considering an athlete’s training/competition program and the importance of undertaking it with increased or decreased carb portions depending on the priority at hand-boosting the performance of high quality exercise versus advocating training adaptation. Due to the lack of exact information on substrata needs of different training sessions, proportions of carb requirements are planned mostly using guesswork along with existing information on consumer-based activity, heart-rate monitors and power meters.
How Much Carbs Does an Athlete Need to Excel in His/her Performance
Carbohydrate needed for performance is based on the athlete’s body size and the nature of the training/sport event. The timing of carbohydrate intake during the day and with respect to training can be altered to make carbs more available or less available. These also help to sail through intense workout sessions within a given period. In the same day, some other sessions might require less of carbohydrates while exercising to boost the training stimulus or adaptive response. Such reduced availability can be easily achieved by keeping two sessions in close succession to each other without time for refueling or also by decreasing total carbs intake.
Once the carbs and energy content of a diet are calculated, neither the glycemic load or glycemic index of these carb-rich meals affect metabolic or performance outcomes of training. Although, studies do exist on the metabolic advantages of exercising with low carbohydrates availability, how they would contribute to performance outcomes are still unclear.
How Does Decreased Availability of Carbs Affect Performance?
Exhaustion of muscle glycogen can lead to fatigue while insufficient carbohydrate availability can affect performance-influencing factors such as pacing, fatigue, motor skill and concentration. The ideal way to prevent this is to balance the carb stores in the body with fuel demands of training/activity for optimal performance.