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The Case Against Carb-cutting

BY NANCY CLARK
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

As the New Year starts, I hear way too many athletes vowing to quit carbs for their nutrition resolution. The reality is that carbs should be the foundation of your sports diet. Here are five reasons why:

Carbohydrates fuel muscles. Athletes who restrict carbs pay the price: “dead legs” and an inability to exercise at their best. If you routinely train hard four to six days a week, carbohydrates should be the foundation of each meal. 

Carbohydrates are not fattening. Excess calories at the end of the day are fattening, not carbohydrates. Excess calories of carbs are actually less fattening than are excess calories of fat because converting excess calories of carbohydrate into body fat requires more energy than converting dietary fat calories.

Avoiding carbs can lead to food binges. By routinely including carbs in your daily sports diet, you take the power away from them and will be less likely to binge. 

Quality carbs promote a healthy microbiome. Fiber-rich carbs feed the zillions of microbes that live in your gut. These microbes have an incredible influence on your mood, weight, immune system, and overall health. 

Carbohydrate adds pleasure to your sports diet. Is something wrong with eating some yummy foods, like pasta and bagels?  How about chocolate milk for a fun recovery food? 

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