Why Are Carbs Important?

If there is inadequate liver glycogen to maintain normal blood glucose, you may feel uncoordinated, lightheaded, unable to concentrate, and weak. Unlike muscles, the brain is unable to store glycogen or use fat as fuel.

In order for your brain to function optimally, you must consume carbohydrate-rich foods or beverages during strenuous exercise to provide sugar (energy) to the blood so your brain has fuel. If you have low blood sugar, you are apt to perform poorly because your brain will not be receiving adequate fuel to maintain optimum function and mental drive.

More: How to Carb-Load Before a Race 

Sufficient glycogen stores will ensure optimal athletic performance and energy. In order to maintain adequate muscle and liver glycogen stores, enjoy a carbohydrate-rich meal plan every day.

Choose Good Carbs

The types of carbohydrates are just as important as the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Complex or nutrient-rich carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits and starchy vegetables provide many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They are also excellent sources of fiber. Therefore, they are essential for optimum health, energy levels and athletic performance.   

More: 4 Healthy Recipes for Carb Lovers

Receiving the majority of your carbohydrate intake from highly processed foods that have been stripped of important nutrients will leave you feeling sluggish. So, put down that candy-coated, so-called energy bar and replace it with a naturally nutrient-rich carbohydrate food like fruit or whole grains (think 100 percent whole wheat bread, quinoa or whole wheat pasta—try Einkorn ancient grain pasta).

Fueling your body with nutrient-rich carbohydrates will give you sustained energy, provide your body with important nutrients and enable you to train (and compete) at your best.

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