Why Are Carbs Important?

Carbohydrates are key for maximum energy, speed, stamina, concentration, recovery and better fluid balance. They are vital for athletes and active individuals because they are the primary fuel for your body.

Think of carbohydrates as the gas needed to fuel a car. Without gas, a car won't run. Likewise, without carbohydrates, your body will not have the fuel it requires to support your daily mental and physical activities.

More: Are You Eating Enough Carbs?

Carbohydrates for Physical Training

Are you an athlete looking to optimize your athletic performance? Or, are you an active individual who would like more energy and stamina when working out? Nutrition is typically the missing link to reaching your full athletic potential. Properly fueling and refueling your body is essential to achieving your fitness goals.  

Carbohydrates play a number of important roles in your body. They are readily stored in your muscles for energy and they enable most of the protein you consume to be used for tissue synthesis (such as muscle building) rather than fuel. Additionally, carbohydrates are required for your body to continually produce energy during physical activity.

More: A Smarter Way to Carbo-Load

Carbohydrates stored in the body are known as glycogen. The majority of glycogen is stored in your liver, but some is stored in your muscle and a minimal amount is found in your blood.

Muscle glycogen is vital for physical activity because it affects both the length of time you can exercise and the intensity level of that exercise. Low levels of muscle glycogen decrease the time you are able to exercise at your maximum potential, thereby negatively affecting your overall performance and energy.

More: How to Create Your Carbo-Load Plan

Research conducted on soccer players found that players with low levels of muscle glycogen covered 24 percent less distance, 50 percent of which was covered by walking, when compared to soccer players with adequate muscle glycogen stores. Without sufficient muscle glycogen, exercise is fueled by fat and protein (which are inefficient energy sources) and the intensity of that exercise is typically less than 50 percent of your ability.

Carbohydrates for Mental Training

Unlike muscle glycogen stores, liver glycogen stores are required for "brain food." Liver glycogen is converted to glucose (energy) in the liver and released into the bloodstream to maintain a normal blood sugar level.

More: Balance Carbohydrates for Better Performance