A buyers guide to Carbohydrates
Sportsmen and sportswomen need to consume sufficient amounts of carbohydrates in order to:
- · Get better results from their training sessions.
- · Satisfy the largest possible share of the necessary calorie intake.
- · Help muscles to recover after physical activity.
- · Store muscle glycogen and maintain performance.
- · Store proteins.
They also provide health benefits such as increasing the sensation of feeling full, slowing down the emptying of the stomach, reducing the absorption of substances such as cholesterol or reducing the increase in blood sugar levels.
The glycemic index is a numeric value assigned to foodstuffs and products containing carbohydrates, the aim of which is to find out the glycemic response of the body after consuming these. This index is a reference of the time it takes the hydrates to decompose into glucose and get into the blood. A high glycemic index reading (over 70) indicates a rapid absorption and increase in blood sugar levels, while a low index figure (less than 55) represents a slower absorption and a moderate effect on the increase of glucose in the blood.
So sports nutrition products with a high GI level give the user an energy peak shortly after consumption, and products with a low GI level provide energy in a more prolonged fashion.
How can we usually find carbohydrates in sports supplement?
Glucose, key to our metabolism, is formed by six carbon atoms. This is the principal fuel for cells, muscles and the brain, it is easily soluble in water and is the molecule which is taken as reference point to determine the glycemic index level of the blood. During exercise it is a source of energy, keeping up the glycaemia level, maintaining performance and postponing tiredness.
Monosaccharide has a chemical formula similar to glucose but with a different molecular structure. Taking fructose during exercise can postpone fatigue, and after exercise can contribute to the replenishment of the of muscle and hepatic stores of glycogen. Together with other carbohydrates, fructose improves the rate of oxidation of glucose and, by providing energy with a lower glycemc index, provides energy more progressively than if only glucose were consumed.
A large molecule with a high molecular weight which makes up 75% of starch. In spite of being considered a complex carbohydrate, as it is made up of multiple molecules of glucose, digestion is relatively quick. For this reason, amylopectin provides easy digested energy which is quickly available to replenish muscle strength, delay fatigue while preventing hypoglycaemia and improving performance levels, especially in long endurance exercise.
A polymer with a high glycemic index, suitable for times when glycogen runs outs and it is necessary to replenish energy levels quickly (after training or during long training sessions). Taking maltodextrine during exercise delays tiredness and improves performance, while taking it after exercise helps towards the replenishing the muscle and hepatic stores of glycogen.