top of page

Why Carbohydrates are Essential for your Athletic Performance

Carbohydrates are essential macronutrients that play a vital role in providing energy for athletic performance. They are one of the primary sources of energy for the body, particularly during high-intensity exercise.

During exercise, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is used to fuel physical activity. Consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrates can help to optimize energy production and to sustain energy levels during exercise.

According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming carbohydrates before and during exercise can improve endurance and performance in both endurance and high-intensity activity.

These types of exercise rely heavily on carbohydrates for energy since they can quickly deplete the body's glycogen stores, which can lead to fatigue and decreased athletic performance. Consuming carbohydrates before, during, and after exercise can therefore help to optimize energy production.

Is the timing of carbohydrates important?

The timing of carbohydrate consumption is essential for improving athletic performance. Consuming carbohydrates 3-4 hours before exercise can help to provide the body with the energy necessary for physical activity and help athletes exercise for longer periods at a time.

Consuming carbohydrates during exercise can help to sustain energy levels and improve endurance. Consuming them within 30 minutes to 4 hours after a workout will restore glycogen levels and promote muscle recovery. The longer the activity, the more carbohydrates are needed to replenish stores.

What are some common misconceptions about consuming carbohydrates?

One of the most common misconceptions is that all carbohydrates are bad. While refined carbohydrates can be harmful to health, consuming complex carbohydrates from whole foods can provide numerous health benefits. Refined carbohydrates have been stripped of bran, fiber, and nutrients and therefore do not provide the same benefits as their complex counterparts. Complex carbohydrates include foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These foods are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can help to support overall health and athletic performance.

Another misconception is that consuming a high-carbohydrate diet will lead to weight gain. However, consuming a balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can help to support a healthy weight and improve athletic performance. It is important to note that consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and other health problems, particularly excess consumption of refined carbohydrates such as sugar and processed foods, which can lead to insulin resistance and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Carbohydrates are essential for improving athletic performance. Consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrates from healthy sources, timing carbohydrate consumption appropriately, and avoiding excessive carbohydrate consumption can help to optimize energy production during exercise and improve overall athletic performance. It is essential for athletes to pay attention to their carbohydrate intake to fuel their bodies appropriately and perform at their best.


  1. Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 5, 17 (2008).


bottom of page