Carbohydrate Requirements

There are two main groups of carbohydrate foods: ♦ Starchy foods;

Starchy carbohydrate foods are broken down more slowly into glucose than sugary foods, so there is a more gradual absorption into the blood. Examples of starchy foods are bread, breakfast cereals, potatoes, pasta, noodles, rice and biscuits. Starchy carbohydrate foods can be subdivided into high fibre and lower fibre ones. The high fibre ones, like wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta and breakfast cereals, give a more steady and efficient provision of energy.

These foods are broken down into glucose rapidly by the body giving quick amounts of energy. It is best to only have small amounts of sugary foods as they can cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels followed by a large drop in levels. It is also easy to consume a lot of sugar so they contribute to unwanted weight gain.

To train to full intensity all the time, a good and steady intake of starchy carbohydrate foods is needed throughout the day. A reasonably high intake of quality complex carbs is also required to train on and for recuperation. Eat complex carbs regularly throughout the day. How much is required depends on the individual and to whether he or she is trying to lose body fat, who will require small amounts, or whether he/she is a typically 'hard gainer' who will need loads to pack on size. These will be discussed in more detail in chapters and respectively.

How much you need is up to you to find out for yourself as we are all different, but one key rule applies: you must eat high fibre complex carbohydrates regularly throughout the day, although the quantity at each meal will vary.

The simplest units of carbohydrate are monosaccharides. Two monosaccharides together make up a disaccharide, e.g. table sugar. Complex carbohydrates like starch are polysaccharides, i.e. long chains of monosaccharides. A chain of a few monosaccharides is called oligosaccharides. Like protein, where amino acids and short peptide chains, are absorbed by different mechanisms, the same is true for carbohydrates. Monosaccharides and oligosaccharides are each absorbed in the gut by a different process. For optimal absorption, therefore, both should be available. By eating starchy carbohydrates, in digestion, both will be available in the intestine.

Maltodextrose powders are synthetic carbohydrate powders which contain polysaccharides and oligosaccharides. They are useful sources of complex carbohydrate, and will be discussed more in Chapter 7.

"To train to full intensity all the time, a good and steady intake of starchy carbohydrate foods is needed throughout the day..."

As I have already said, it is hard to give you figures as to how much carbohydrate is required, as we are all so different. But as a general rule for any bodybuilder who is trying to gain muscle size and strength and does not wish to lose body fat approx. 4g of total carbohydrate per kg bodyweight, eaten regularly throughout the day, would be a good estimate. If the subject had a busy and energetic job, e.g. a builder, this figure may need to be a lot higher.

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