Guidelines for Daily Carbohydrate Intake

Department of Sports Nutrition, Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, ACT, Australia.
Sports Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.04). 02/2001; 31(4):267-99. DOI: 10.2165/00007256-200131040-00003
Source: PubMed


Official dietary guidelines for athletes are unanimous in their recommendation of high carbohydrate (CHO) intakes in routine or training diets. These guidelines have been criticised on the basis of a lack of scientific support for superior training adaptations and performance, and the apparent failure of successful athletes to achieve such dietary practices. Part of the problem rests with the expression of CHO intake guidelines in terms of percentage of dietary energy. It is preferable to provide recommendations for routine CHO intake in grams (relative to the body mass of the athlete) and allow flexibility for the athlete to meet these targets within the context of their energy needs and other dietary goals. CHO intake ranges of 5 to 7 g/kg/day for general training needs and 7 to 10 g/kg/day for the increased needs of endurance athletes are suggested. The limitations of dietary survey techniques should be recognised when assessing the adequacy of the dietary practices of athletes. In particular, the errors caused by under-reporting or undereating during the period of the dietary survey must be taken into account.
A review of the current dietary survey literature of athletes shows that a typical male athlete achieves CHO intake within the recommended range (on a g/kg basis). Individual athletes may need nutritional education or dietary counselling to fine-tune their eating habits to meet specific CHO intake targets. Female athletes, particularly endurance athletes, are less likely to achieve these CHO intake guidelines. This is due to chronic or periodic restriction of total energy intake in order to achieve or maintain low levels of body fat. With professional counselling, female athletes may be helped to find a balance between bodyweight control issues and fuel intake goals.
Although we look to the top athletes as role models, it is understandable that many do not achieve optimal nutrition practices. The real or apparent failure of these athletes to achieve the daily CHO intakes recommended by sports nutritionists does not necessarily invalidate the benefits of meeting such guidelines. Further longitudinal studies of training adaptation and performance are needed to determine differences in the outcomes of high versus moderate CHO intakes. In the meantime, the recommendations of sports nutritionists are based on plentiful evidence that increased CHO availability enhances endurance and performance during single exercise sessions.

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Available from: Ben Desbrow, May 13, 2014
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    • "These ranges are useful in providing individual counseling to meet carbohydrate targets and provide adjustments depending on the time of year, body composition, and training goals. It is important to consider that female athletes that restrict total calories to decrease body weight may have difficulty in achieving carbohydrate recommendations (Burke et al., 2001). Given the aesthetic nature of synchronized swimming, the recommendation range of 5–7 g/kg/day is recommended . "
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    ABSTRACT: The sport of synchronized swimming is unique, as it combines speed, power and endurance with precise synchronized movements and high-risk acrobatic manoeuvres. Athletes must train and compete while spending a great amount of time underwater, with the athlete being upside down and without the luxury of easily available oxygen. This review assesses the scientific evidence with respect to the physiological demands, energy expenditure and body composition in these athletes. The role of appropriate energy requirements and guidelines for carbohydrate, protein, fat and micronutrients for elite synchronized swimmers are reviewed. Due to the aesthetic nature of the sport, which prioritizes leanness, the risks of energy and macronutrient deficiencies are of significant concern in synchronized swimming. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport and disordered eating/eating disorders are also of concern for these female athletes. An approach to the healthy management of body composition in synchronized swimming is outlined. Synchronized swimmers should be encouraged to consume a well-balanced diet with sufficient energy to meet demands, and to time the intake of carbohydrate, protein and fat to optimize performance and body composition. Micronutrients of concern for this female athlete population include iron, calcium and vitamin D. This paper reviews the physiological demands of synchronized swimming and makes nutritional recommendations for recovery, training and competition to help optimize athletic performance and to reduce risks for weight related medical issues that are of particular concern for elite synchronized swimmers.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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    • "It is likely, that the high CHO diet and the rest period between matches (48 hours) was an ample protocol to fill glycogen stores, explaining the maintenance of blood glucose observed in the PLA condition. However, it is important to mention that previous investigations have reported that athletes do not achieve the daily CHO intake recommended during training and competitions [2,42] and as a result liver and muscle glycogen stores might be compromised. In such scenario, CHO supplementation could be alternative to provide energy and spare glycogen stores, delaying fatigue and attenuating performance decrement. "
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    ABSTRACT: Carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion may be an interesting approach to avoid significant decrement to the tennis match performance. The aim of the present investigation was to assess the effects of CHO supplementation on tennis match play performance. Twelve young tennis players (18.0 +/- 1.0 years; 176 +/- 3.4cm; 68.0 +/- 2.3kg; body fat: 13.7 +/- 2.4%) with national rankings among the top 50 in Brazil agreed to participate in this study, which utilized a randomized, crossover, double blind research design. The experiment was conducted over a 5-day period in which each player completed two simulated tennis matches of a 3-hour duration. The players received either a CHO or a placebo (PLA) drinking solution during simulated tennis matches. Athlete's performance parameters were determined by filming each match with two video cameras. Each player was individually tracked for the entire duration of the match to measure the following variables: (1) games won; (2) rally duration; (3) strokes per rally; (4) effective playing time (%); (5) aces; (6) double faults; (7) first service in; (8) second service in; (9) first return in and (10) second return in. There were no differences between trials in any of the variables analyzed. CHO supplementation did not improve tennis match play performance under the present experimental conditions.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
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    • "Many guidelines recommend that the meal before a training session be high in carbohydrates (Burke et al. 2001; Maughan 2002; Rodriguez et al. 2009). Likewise, eating before the beginning of the exercise, as opposed to exercising in fast state, improves exercise performance (Jentjens et al. 2003; Moseley et al. 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study investigated the effect of an aerobic exercise bout associated with a high-carbohydrate (CHO) meal on plasma levels of acylated ghrelin and hunger sensation. Eight healthy males performed an exercise (ET) and a control (CT) trial. In ET, participants performed a 60-min cycling exercise (∼70% of maximal oxygen uptake) after consuming a high-CHO meal. In the CT, participants remained at rest throughout the whole period after consuming the high-CHO meal. Hunger sensation was assessed and blood samples were taken to determine the levels of acylated ghrelin, glucose, insulin, total cholesterol (TC), and triglycerides (TG). There was suppression of hunger after consuming the meal in ET and CT (p = 0.028 and p = 0.011, respectively). Hunger increased in CT in the period correspondent to the exercise session (p = 0.017) and remained suppressed in the ET. The area under the curve for acylated ghrelin showed that its levels were lower in the ET compared with CT in the period of the exercise plus the immediate period (1 h) postexercise (60.7 vs. 96.75 pg·mL(-1)·2 h(-1), respectively; p = 0.04). Inverse correlations between acylated ghrelin levels and insulin, TC, and TG levels at different time points were observed. In conclusion, these findings suggest that 1 bout of aerobic exercise maintains the meal-induced suppression of hunger. The mechanism underlying this effect may involve the exercise-induced suppression of acylated ghrelin. These results implicate that the combination of a high-CHO meal and aerobic exercise may effectively improve appetite control and body weight management.
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