Carbohydrate Sources for Runners
When it comes to running, carbohydrates are absolutely vital in regards to ensuring we perform at our best.
Runners require a great deal of carbohydrates, more than the average person because our muscles are actually fueled by them, or rather, by glycogen which is a by-product of carbohydrates. Put simply, we consume carbs, our metabolisms take them and convert them into forms of energy which are then used to fuel our muscles.
Unfortunately, not all carbohydrates are created equally and although 1 gram of carbs will always work out as 4 calories, as runners, it’s vital that you’re getting as much nutrition from each carb source you consume as possible. Not only that, but getting the right carbs at the right times is also crucial. Before, during, and after running for example, you’ll want high-glycemic carbs which are digested quickly. At every other time however, you’ll be looking for slower digesting, low-glycemic carbs.
Here’s a look at 4 of the best carbohydrate sources for runners.
Bananas – Bananas are absolutely ideal for runners for a variety of different reasons. To begin with they’re easy to eat as you literally just peel them open and tuck in, plus they’re loaded full of fast-absorbing carbohydrates so they begin fuelling your muscles right away.
On top of that, bananas are also loaded full of minerals, including potassium. Potassium is ideal for runners because it helps suppress lactic acid build ups, which cause painful muscle cramps and fatigue.
Pasta – The night before an endurance race, many runners will do what is known as “carb loading” in which they basically consume vast amounts of carbohydrates. The idea behind carb loading is to saturate your muscles, or rather the cells within your muscles, with glycogen, which comes from the carbohydrates.
Pasta, either white or whole wheat, is a great source of carbohydrate, though white faster is a much faster absorbing source. Whole wheat pasta is healthier as it also contains fiber, minerals, and vitamins, but it is absorbed at a much slower rate, due largely to its high fiber content.
Wild rice – Before any endurance event, any form of rice will prove beneficial, though when compared with white rice, and even brown rice, wild rice is considered the best when all nutritional aspects are considered. It is lower in calories than both sources of other rice, but it contains more protein, more minerals, and more omega 3 fatty acids, which will help provide additional fuel for your body because in actual fact, fat is the body’s preferred source of energy, which is why we store body fat in the first place – as an emergency energy source.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is another fantastic source of carbohydrate for runners, and it is often the go-to breakfast for runners and athletes for a variety of reasons. To begin with, oatmeal is simple to digest and yet it still provides a steady stream of energy as digests and breaks down. What’s more, it is packed full of carbs as one cup contains over 100 grams of them.
Oatmeal also contains fiber, B vitamins, and essential minerals such as Zinc and Iron. Combine a sliced banana and a knob of butter with your oatmeal and you’ll have more energy than you know what to do with!
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