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All you ever wanted to know about Carbohydrates but were afraid to ask… 🤨

How the Body Stores and Uses Carbs

  • How the Body Stores and Uses Carbs

  • Carbohydrates are an important fuel for exercise. 

  • Carbs are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles, and must be re-stocked each day.  

  • Approximately 100 grams of glycogen (equivalent to 400 calories) may be stored in the liver, and up to 400 grams of glycogen (equivalent to 1600 calories) in muscle cells.  

  • The purpose of liver glycogen is to maintain steady blood sugar levels. When blood glucose dips, glycogen in the liver breaks down to release glucose into the bloodstream.  

  • The purpose of muscle glycogen is to fuel physical activity.

  • The more active the client is and the greater their muscle mass, the higher their carb needs.

  • How Much Carbohydrate?

  • While high-carbohydrate diets (more than 60% of energy intake) have been recommended in the past, experts now prefer to express carbohydrate requirements in terms of grams(g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight (BW).

  • Guidelines for daily intakes range from 3 to 7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for low and moderate-intensity daily training lasting up to one hour.  

  • Depending on the fuel cost of the training schedule, a serious athlete may need to consume between 7 to 12 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight each day (e.g. 350-840 g per day for a 70kg athlete) to ensure adequate glycogen stores.

  • How Do Carbs Help Recovery?

  • To promote rapid post-exercise recovery, experts recommend consuming 1 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour within 30 minutes after exercise and then at 2-hour intervals up to 6 hours.  

  • If your client plans to train again within 8 hours, it is important to begin re-fuelling as soon as possible after exercise.  

  • Moderate and high glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates will promote faster recovery during this period.  

  • However, for recovery periods of 24 hours or longer, the type and timing of carbohydrate intake is less critical, although you should choose nutrient-dense sources wherever possible.

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