We know protein is important, but it’s also important to know about carbs, so that you can have the energy you need to train and play to your potential.

I’m ashamed to say it, but after all these years, I’ve never really focused much on carbs, and I decided that needs to change.

Recently retired safety Brian Dawkins was named to MuscleProdigy.com’s “The 30 Most Jacked NFL Football Players” list. (ICON Sports)

I did some research to learn about carbs, and I thought I’d share with you what I learned.

Below are links to the articles I checked out.

The Role of Carbohydrates in Exercise and Physical Performance

Sports Nutrition For Young Adults #4 – Carbohydrates

Nutrition and athletic performance

Carbohydrates in sport nutrition

Nutrition for Everyone: Basics: Carbohydrates

Sports Nutrition – How Carbohydrate Provides Energy for Exercise – Carbs

Nutrition for the Athlete

How Many Carbs Do I Need for Working Out?


Note:  Before changing your diet, or applying any of these tips, consult with your doctor.  I tried my best to make sure this information came from what appeared to be reliable sources, but I can’t personally back their claims.

Let’s get started.


Lesson #1 – Just How Important are Carbs?


Carbs give you energy during your exercises, games, practice, or any athletic activity, for that matter.

In their stored form, carbs are called glycogen, and are stored mostly in your liver and muscles.

The “summary” section of the “The Role of Carbohydrates…” article sums it up pretty well:

The clear message from over a half a century of research… is that next to natural talent and appropriate training, a high carbohydrate diet and adequate fluid intake to avoid dehydration are the two most important elements in the formula for successful participation in sport.

It goes on to mention that this statement assumes that you as an athlete are eating a well-balanced meal normally.

So if you’re an athlete, you might be missing your potential, if you’re not taking your carb intake more seriously.



Lesson #2 – Why is it Important to Get Your Carb Intake Amount Right?


You need to make sure we’re getting the right amount of carbs, because if you consume too many carbs, they’ll turn to fat.

If you don’t consume enough, you can underperform in your training, games, or practices, because you’ll feel tired and sluggish.



Lesson #3 – How Do Carbs Give Us Energy?


A lot of people don’t care how something works, as long as it does.

Lord knows, I wish I was like them.  I needed to find out exactly “why” or “how” carbs work, so I had to look it up.


In “Sports Nutrition – How Carbohydrate Provides Energy for Exercise…”, the author, Elizabeth Quinn an exercise physiologist and fitness consultant, explains how carbs function in the body once they’re consumed.

Once eaten, carbohydrates breakdown into smaller sugars (glucose, fructose and galactose) that get absorbed and used as energy. Any glucose not needed right away gets stored in the muscles and the liver in the form of glycogen. Once these glycogen stores are filled up, any extra gets stored as fat.

When you’re exercising or playing, the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver is changed back to glucose and used for energy.

I admit, it’s not the most elaborate explanation of how it works, but it works for me right now.

I know more than I did before, that’s for sure.



Lesson #4 – Types of Carbohydrates


I gotta be honest.  Until I did this research, I didn’t know the difference between the different kinds of carbs, so this was good information for me to learn.

Most of the resources I checked say that there’s two basic kinds of carbs: complex, and simple.


Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbs are broken down quickly, and when they are, they give us a short spike in blood sugar and energy.

Simple carbs are sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables.

They’re also found in milk, honey, and sugar.

You can usually identify a food that’s a simple carb, because they usually taste sweet.

Candy, of course, is a simple carb, but if you need simple carbs, you’d be best served to stick with the healthier options, and not use candy.

Simple carbs are good when you need sudden rushes of energy.


Complex carbohydrates


Complex carbs normally don’t have the sweet flavor to them.

Complex carbs are found in foods like pasta, oats, bread, rice, cereals, and potatoes.

Because it takes longer for the body to break down complex carbs, they give you energy over a longer period of time than simple carbs.

Click here to see a huge list of complex carb food sources.



Lesson #5 – How much of our Daily Energy Intake Should Come from Carbs?


In “The Role of Carbohydrates in Exercise and Physical Performance” article, they break down our recommended daily carb intake simply:

…60% of (athletes’) daily energy intake is obtained from carbohydrates, 30 % or less from fat and 10 to 15 % from proteins.


Lesson #6 – How Many Carbs Do YOU Need?


That’s the golden question, isn’t it?

Normal people (non-athletes) that exercise up to an hour a day don’t really need to increase their carb intake from that of a normal, well-balanced diet.

Normal recommended carb intake, from the research I did, was in the 45-50 percent range of all the calories you consume per day.

The 45-50 percent range, translated into grams per pound of bodyweight is 2.3g to 3.2g.

I know what you’re saying, “So Alvin, just answer the question.  How many carbs should I take?”

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer.  From what I read, you have to play around with it and see what works for you.

In “How Many Carbs Do I Need for Working Out,” the author, Tricia McMillan, a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, says that you might be fine with just a normal carb intake level, but if you’re feeling like you’re running out of energy in the middle of your workouts, she recommends boosting up to 3.6 g per pound of body weight.


Check back for part two, coming soon.

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