Carbohydrate loading for the Sports Person

Today we have research which shows that besides your God given ability and talent to be an athlete or play a game and your training by professional coaches, what goes into your body as food on a long term basis as well as exactly what you eat 3 days before your event and through out and after the event have a tremendous influence on your performance. It is very important for a sports person to concentrate on a high carbohydrate diet from 3 days before a match. 60-70% of the food should be carbohydrate food.( fruits, sugars, vegetables and cereals-rice, wheat roti, bread, pasta, etc) This gets converted to glycogen and is stored in the muscles. During an event one has to be able to endure long hours as well as have muscle glycogen, which is energy that is taken out from for the muscles for spurts of high intensity activity that occurs when you bowl, bat, do sprints, hit a ball, shuttle etc.

For this we recommend that you make a conscious effort to cut down on all fatty foods from 3 days prior to the event, during event and after the event. You have to replace those fatty foods with large quantities of carbohydrate foods. Use skimmed or low fat milk, do not apply butter on bread or ghee on roti, avoid coconut chutney and any fried items like vada, masala dosa, etc. in breakfast. Ideally your breakfast should be a glass of skimmed milk with bread and jam, or idli and sambar. or oats porridge or cereal and milk. A boiled egg may be eaten but sausages; bacon, etc. must be avoided. Top up the breakfast with fruits or fruit juice.

Carry with you dilute juice with glucose but avoid any concentrated drinks and aerated drinks during event. Between events frequently snack on fruits - banana, dates, raisins, etc. Jelly, crackers and glucose or marie biscuits, may also be eaten. Chocolates and nuts are a definite no as they are high fat and will make you feel heavy in the stomach without doing the needful. Lunch too should be high carbohydrates and a moderate protein meal but low in fat. Curd rice, dry roti with dhal, macaroni and tomato sauce with a little cheese added are some choices. But try to increase your rice or roti intake and avoid the non-veg or keep it to a minimum.

Many eat less during the event saying they don't want to feel heavy. Please note if you fill up on carbs you will not be heavy as they get digested fast. Only if you eat fat, then fat takes 6-8 hours to get digested and it feels heavy in the stomach. After the event too do not neglect your eating. For a Sports person every day is important, every event is important and you should take care to replenish your muscle glycogen stores which would have got emptied by the end of your event.

It is recommend that you give 100 gms of carbohydrate with 5-10 gms protein within half an hour after event. This can be got from a glass of milk or lassi plus 4 slices bread & jam or 4-5 idli with sambar and some fruits. Later that night's dinner too must be a high carbohydrate meal with lots of rice or roti, curds and dhal but definitely low on fat. Fruit and milk at bed time too is a good way to load carbohydrates. Rich biriyani, poori, paratha and Chinese food are best avoided after an event as they are too high in fat.

On a match day we suggest that you eat 3 times before the game, e.g. 6am milk and fruit, 8am breakfast and 9.30am juice and some glucose biscuits. During play - plenty of water, juice and fruits may be eaten. Have a good lunch and continue to drink water or juice and fruit till the game is over. Follow this with eating thrice again. That is, 6pm milk, sandwiches and fruit, 8 pm a good carbohydrate and protein dinner and bed time milk and fruit.

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