How 'net carbs' can hurt athletes

News & Results

03/18/2005| 0 comments
by Ashley Kipp

How 'net carbs' can hurt athletes

Athletes are getting caught up in the 'control carbohydrates' frenzy.

The artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols that are used to replace the original carbohydrate content in the foods are not absorbed? so where do they go? If you consume more than 25-50 grams of sugar alcohols in a day, you?ll find out it goes right through you. Such products can have a significant laxative effect when eaten in excess, and need to have a laxative warning on the label. Sugar alcohols aren?t digested or absorbed in the small intestine, and are fermented in the large intestine, which can cause gastrointestinal distress and/or diarrhea. The carbohydrate goes right through you! The only truly ?Low Carb? foods that have little to no sugar content are meats, nuts and seeds, some cheeses, and creams.

Furthermore, the initial and rapid weight loss (4-6 lbs.) that followers of low-carb diets experience is almost entirely from glycogen depletion and loss of water weight. Each gram of glycogen (or carbohydrate energy) in the body is stored with 3 grams of water. So, each gram of carbohydrate energy, then, accounts for 4 grams of body weight. By eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, the body is forced to burn through its stored glycogen. For a sedentary person, this may take up to two days; for an athlete, all it takes is a few hours. It is important to know, though, that the water weight lost during this time does not directly lead to dehydration. The water lost is from muscle tissues, not from other body tissues, organs, and blood volume.

What Does this Have to Do With Me?

Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols certainly have their place. They have allowed millions of diabetic Americans to enjoy an increased variety of foods. They have also allowed clinically obese people to drastically cut back on overall calorie consumption while still enjoying the satisfaction of good and sweet tasting food on a regular basis. However, for athletes, low-carb diets can be bad news.

Once glycogen stores are depleted, the body seeks out fat and protein sources for energy. First it turns to protein, converting amino acids from muscle tissue into glucose in the liver. This process is relatively slow and can really only produce enough carbohydrate to fuel your brain and nervous system. When no relief comes from ingested carbohydrate, you start producing ketone bodies (byproducts of fat metabolism) and releasing them into the bloodstream. As ketone levels increase, you enter a state of ketosis, which suppresses the appetite, but can also be accompanied by undesirable side effects, such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, and breath that smells like ammonia. Athletes on low-carb diets have difficulty sustaining even moderate intensity workouts of 50-65% of max heart rates when ketone levels are elevated.

Although low-carb diets and ?net carb? counting may have their place for some people in society, it is clear that these dietary practices are not appropriate for athletes. The routine and guidelines for maintaining the diet call for avoiding exactly what athletes need: digestible, usable, and absorbable carbohydrate that powers our muscles with energy. Carbohydrate is the most versatile type of energy. It

Your comments
Your comments
sign up or login to post a comment