Posts Tagged ‘carbohydrates’

The simple answer is that sugar is one type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a whole family and sugar is the evil step brother. Just kidding! Kind of. There is no technical definition of sugar, but for the purpose of this article it will be defined as that granulated white (or brown) stuff used in baking and poured on your cereal or coffee.  Food manufacturers also add sugar to beverages and foods such as soda, juice drinks, cookies, cakes, candy, etc.  Sometimes this added sugar is listed under names such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup solids. The scientific name for white sugar is sucrose.

Carbohydrates are the broader category which includes all sweets, grains, fruit, milk, and even vegetables. Carbohydrates found in fruit are fructose; carbs in milk are lactose; and carbs in grain foods are glucose. When your body digests carbohydrates they break down into glucose when they enter your blood stream. All types of carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in your body. A strawberry will turn to glucose just the same as a piece of bread or a tablespoon full of sugar will turn into glucose. The difference is that the strawberry contains vitamin C, fiber, and approximately 80 calories for 1 cup. On the other hand, 1 cup of white sugar (sucrose) contains zero vitamins and fiber, and has a whopping 770 calories. Of course, most of you are not going to eat a cup of sugar, but you may drink a soda which contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.

If you ever turn a food package around and look at the label (which I hope you do!) you may notice that it shows carbohydrates, dietary fiber and sugars. Basically, the more fiber it has the healthier it is, and the less sugar it has the healthier it is. Fiber is also a carbohydrate, but it is indigestible and it moves through your body helping to lower your cholesterol and promote regularity. Fiber can also help stabilize your blood sugar.

Overall, carbohydrates provide fuel for your body and should not be avoided. There are both healthy carbs (whole grains, fruit) and unhealthy carbs (sugar), and with a bit of balance and moderation you can happily consume both types :).




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Over the weekend I played rugby with my old college team from Davis. I had an amazing time!  After seeing a few ruggers chow down on some food that wasn’t exactly the best for enhancing sports performance, I figured I better blog about it. As far as sports nutrition goes, there are some simple basics that can pretty much be applied to any sport, but for this post I’m mostly going to be referencing rugby  (I’m sorry if you don’t understand the rugby jargon). But just know that the basic nutrition principals apply to most sports/ exercise.

Pre-game meal: It’s recommended that you eat a substantial meal rich in carbohydrate 2-3 hours before the big event. This means pasta, potatoes, bread. Of course your meal doesn’t have to be all carbs, but it should be at least 60-70% carbohydrates. Remember that fruits also contain carbs. The only foods that aren’t made of carbs  are meats/poultry and pure fat foods like butter/oil.  A salad is not a good choice, while vegetables do have carbs they are very minimal. Little Lindsay was trying to eat a salad before her Humboldt game and I was not about to let that happen! Had she been playing Davis next perhaps I would have let it slide… Additionally, you do not want to eat too much fiber with your pregame meal as this can cause GI distress and cramping. This can be especially bad if you are “poop shy,” a new term I learned from an SD rugger. 

Image from blog.fatfreevegan.com

Pre-game Snack: It’s Important to have a small carb snack 20-30 minutes before the game. This could be oranges, granola bar, or 1/2 a bagel. The reason that carbs are so vital for sports that involve running is because glucose is your quickest energy source. Carbohydrates = glucose.If you consume glucose your body will not waste energy trying to mobilize fat stores or break down glycogen.  If you do not have glucose readily available you will be slower and you will not have enough energy to make it to the next ruck and your teammates will hate you.

Post-game Meal: Many nutritionists/scientists believe there is a  30 minute “window of opportunity” after we have a tough workout or game when its the most vital to consume food for maximal nutrient uptake and recovery. So, even if you’re not hungry you should try to eat a little snack within 30 minutes of the end of your event. After the game is when we want to focus more on protein because it can help heal our torn muscles and lay down new muscle. Some snacks that I would recommend are nuts, yogurt, and apples and peanut butter, or anything with PB really. Also, chocolate milk has been shown to be a great recovery drink because it contains the perfect balance of carbs to protein. So instead of buying muscle milk which will cost you an arm and a leg you should just drink regular old 1% chocolate milk. When you’re hungry for a big meal, just eat as you normally would but just make sure there is at least one protein food in your meal.  Pizza is alright because of the cheese, but not really an ideal food. Beer is not an acceptable post-game meal! 

Hydration: Proper hydration could easily be one of the most important aspects of sports nutrition. Studies have shown that over 60% of college athletes begin their practice/ game in a dehydrated state.  If you are starting off dehydrated you will only become more dehydrated throughout the game and your performance will suffer. You need to drink plenty of water prior to your game. During the game it is important to consume gatorade or other sports drinks. You need electrolytes during prolonged sports competition. If you are competing for longer than 1 hour your body will be losing too much sodium and potassium, especially if you are a heavy sweater. These nutrients which you are losing are in sports drinks. Please do not rely solely on water. I could show you a million graphs where the person who drinks Gatorade outruns/ out cycles the person who drinks water, but I don’t feel like fetching my graphs right now. If you have difficulty packing bottles of gatorade I suggest bringing some powder form and adding it to the water, I believe its cheaper if you get it in powder form as well.

OK, got that? In a nut shell: carbs before, protein after, no beer, just gatorade. Proper nutrition will not make you a rugby star if you are not talented and don’t work hard. But it can give you the extra edge to out run the other team in the last minutes of the game.

Here are some lovely photos from this weekend taken by Michael Coons.

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