Carbohydrates in the diet of an athlete seem to be its inseparable element, but more and more often you can hear about the so-called low-carb diets. This is nothing but a menu, which in its schedule has little or no “carbs”. Is it beneficial for sports performance? What can you replace carbohydrates with? We suggest!
A diet based on protein and fats
The main purpose of consuming carbohydrates is to provide the body with glucose, which is an important fuel for muscles. Nowadays, dietary trends are constantly changing and you can see that the biggest sports stars do not have in their diets products that contain gluten or no carbohydrates at all. What do the experts think about this?
Most of them recommend consuming fat at 30% and protein around 20% in your daily energy requirements. An important aspect of consuming meals in such a distribution, is the quality of protein and fat, because they are mainly based on low-carbohydrate diets. Diets dominated by saturated fatty acids can lead to certain mental and stomach disorders in athletes who subject their bodies to very hard training units. However, it should be taken into account that the amount of fats and protein consumed depends on the type of sports.
Thus, several low-carbohydrate diets can be distinguished:
–MCD diet (moderate carbohydrate diet) – contains 130 to 225 grams of carbohydrates per day, which gives 26% to 45% of daily energy requirements,
–LCD diet (low carbohydrate diet) – carbohydrate intake per day is between 50 and 130 grams, or 10% to 26% of daily energy requirements,
–LCKD ketogenic diet – this is by far the strictest diet, which contains less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, and it is not uncommon for the value to be 0 grams.
Low carbohydrate diet in the life of an athlete – carb cycling
Carb cycling is a planned change in carbohydrate intake. During this time, you rotate nutrient values so that for a maximum of 5 days the amount of carbohydrates is about 10-20% of the daily requirement, and for the next 3 days it is up to 70%. On the days of so called low carb intake, the body burns fat and on the following days glycogen stores are replenished.
In a low carb cycle, it is recommended to eat foods that are rich in fat and protein. The diet is based mainly on proteins in the form of meat, eggs and cheese and fats from nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, as well as vegetables and fruits that provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Is low carbohydrate diet good for athletes?
It’s impossible to give an unambiguous thesis. We must remember that each body is different, has a different energy needs, tolerates other nutrients, which makes them much better assimilated. The human body is a complex machine, for which you can not establish a single model of nutrition. For some, a ketogenic diet will be better, for others it may be categorically inadvisable. Among athletes who undergo huge loads, it is necessary to determine still the type of sport practiced, body composition, training intensity, metabolism, and even food preferences.
A low carbohydrate diet is recommended for athletes who exercise at a moderate to high level of intensity, assuming that they achieve 60-70% V2O max. For more intense training units where V2O max is around 80%, the athlete’s diet should be richer in carbohydrates.
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