A healthy diet is important for any athlete to maintain his energy, stamina and weight, but there are misconceptions about one food group which all diets should include – these are carbohydrates.
CARBOHYDRATE MYTHS DEBUNKED
- ALL CARBS ARE BAD FOR ME:
Not all carbohydrates are bad for you – in fact, complex carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. Food containing carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads or pastas, contain other vitamins our body needs as well, such as fibre, iron, folic acid, and B vitamins. The carbohydrates that are bad for you come from foods such as cakes, biscuits, white breads and pastas, so these should be replaced with whole grain versions.
- MY BODY DOESN’T NEED CARBS:
It is a common misconception that carbohydrates are not needed by your body because they are “fattening” – this is only true of the carbohydrates found in white breads and other “white” processed foods. Carbohydrates are the fuel that keeps your body performing at its best as they supply your body with glucose, which supports physical activity and provides energy.
- CARBOHYDRATES ONLY COME FROM BREAD OR OTHER GRAIN PRODUCTS:
While carbohydrates are commonly found in these foods, they are not the only sources of this energy-boosting diet staple. Healthy carbohydrates can be found in beans, whole grains, fruit, legumes and vegetables. Beans and legumes have double the benefits, as they also contain protein and have less calories than other starchy carbohydrates.
WHY ARE CARBOHYDRATES IMPORTANT FOR RUGBYPLAYERS?
As highlighted above, carbohydrates are an important part of any healthy diet because they provide your body with energy and fuel healthy body functions.
Rugby is a sport that has a variety of exercise intensity levels, from sprinting to tackling, and so the fuel for these activities is supplied only by carbohydrates and fat.
Fatigue during matches or practice is often caused by the depletion of muscle glycogen – the carbohydrates stored in the muscles. Low blood glucose levels, caused by a lack of good carbohydrates, during play can cause a loss of concentration, which leads to slow reactions and tactical skills.
A young athlete should eat six to 11 servings of good carbohydrate-rich foods a day. One slice of brown bread or ½ a cup of brown pasta equate to one serving.