To achieve their performance goals, athletes must maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, including nutrient-dense carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient in an athlete’s diet because of their ability to sustain energy during intense, endurance exercise.
Sports nutritionists recommend that carbohydrates comprise 60-75 percent of total calories in athletes’ diets1. Complex carbohydrates – bread, pasta, and rice – are digested at a slower rate compared to simple carbohydrates – fruits, most vegetables, and sugars – so they are a preferred source of lasting energy for athletes.
Grain-based foods are an excellent choice for enjoying complex carbohydrates to fuel any athletic goals. In addition to delivering carbohydrate energy, grain-based foods provide other beneficial nutrients such as fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium B vitamins, and even protein.
To Fuel Your Fitness, Select Snacks and Meals that Combine Carbs, Protein, and Fiber!
- Bagel or toast with nut butter and fruit
- Flour tortilla rolled with lean meat
- Pasta with lean meat and low-fat cheese
- Oatmeal with low-fat milk, nuts and/or dried fruit
- Whole grain cereal with low-fat milk and berries
- Homemade snack mix with pretzels, nuts, and dried fruit
In addition to providing adequate fuel for your workout, grain-based foods are a great post-exercise snack. Eating high-carbohydrate foods with protein 30 minutes after physical activity can be an effective way to replenish the body’s depleted energy and stimulate muscle growth and repair.
1 Berning, Jacqueline, “Recommendations for Athletes on Food and Fluid Consumption,” JADA110(4), April, 2010.