My name is Thai and I have been an athlete for over 9 years. Sports that I have been involved in include wrestling, surfing, and kickboxing. One thing that all of these sports have in common is that they require a tremendous amount of energy.
These high energy sports require proper nutrition to give a strong performance output. This statement is true for any sport out there; whether its football, baseball, soccer, tennis, bowling, etc. A good high energy diet will help increase athletic performance.
Currently I am still a kick boxer that competes regularly on the amateur circuit. The demands of the sport are very intense. I train 6 days a week (sometimes 7) and twice a day. My workouts include strength & conditioning, cardio (daily runs of 3-6 miles), and the kickboxing practice itself.
To be able to keep up with such a demanding sport and also have the energy to perform, I tend to eat a large amount of complex carbohydrates through out the day. Complex carbohydrates are the key to high performance and to prevent fatigue through out my busy weekly schedule.
Most athletes in weight controlled sports tend to avoid carbohydrates because it is believed that carbohydrates result in weight gain, which is not true; carbohydrates will only result in weight gain if eaten in an excessive amount, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER FOOD GROUP. If you consume too many fruits, too many vegetables, too much protein, too much fat, etc, the scale will go up because you have consumed too many calories. Calories are what cause weight gain, not the food group itself.
The body’s main source of energy is glucose, which is used for every single possible action your body is capable of. Whether it’s jumping, running, breathing, thinking, or even staying sedentary, your body requires glucose. You can get glucose from most foods, but complex carbohydrates have the highest quality of glucose. It is also very VERY important to note, although you can get glucose from most foods, it is very hard for the body to convert other food groups, like fats and protein, into glucose.
So therefore, it is important not to eliminate all carbohydrates because our brain needs them to function. Without carbohydrates, a person can become depressed, moody, have deficiencies, injuries, and so on. Instead? Choose carbohydrates with benefits. Choose carbohydrates high in fiber and low in calories, such as whole grains, fruits with the skins, beans, and vegetables.
On an average day I will consume around 150-200 grams of carbohydrates, and that will keep me going all day long. Some great complex carbohydrates would include brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. How can you tell if a carbohydrate is a good source? Check the fiber content. Anything above 4 grams of fiber will provide long lasting energy. Anything above 5 grams is a high source of fiber.
Read the nutrition facts label for vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, fat, calories, etc. and ask a Registered Dietitian to decipher what this means for you. So the key to great athletic performance and results would be to eat good quality carbohydrates.
Thai Le, Dietetics Student
Michele Wroblewski, RDN
Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition, LLC
1278 Yardville Allentown Rd. Suite 3
Allentown, NJ 08501