Insufficient Dietary Carbohydrate during Training: Does It Impair Athletic Performance?

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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It is well established that adequate bodily carbohydrate reserves are required for optimal endurance. Based on this fact, it has been hypothesized that consumption of a diet with a high percentage of carbohydrate energy will optimize training adaptations and athletic performance. Scrutiny of the literature, however, does not strongly support the hypothesis that short-term or long-term reductions in dietary carbohydrate energy impairs training or athletic performance. Additional studies with well devised training protocols and performance tests are necessary to prove or disprove the hypothesis that a high carbohydrate energy diet is necessary to optimize training adaptations and performance. Because dietary carbohydrate contributes directly to bodily carbohydrate reserves, and because a high carbohydrate energy diet does not impair athletic performance, it remains prudent to advise athletes to consume a diet with a high carbohydrate energy content.

The authors are with the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, School of HPER, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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