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Carbolicious Carbominator

By Tara DelloIacono-Thies, RD
Nutrition Strategist at Clif Bar & Company

Carbohydrate is the most important nutrient source of energy for athletes. Carbohydrates fuel your hard working muscles during your training session. This super nutrient is metabolized by your body into its most basic form, glucose, and enters your blood stream directly to your muscles to create energy.

When it comes to your performance on the court, carbohydrates deliver:

1) More energy

2) Better focus and attention

3) Faster recovery from consecutive training days

The amount of carbohydrate you need in your daily menu depends on how much energy you burn, your gender, and even the environment you are in.

Athletes need more carbohydrate than non-athletes to meet the greater energy demands of their sport. A general guideline for how much you need during heavy periods of training is 2.7 - 4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.

For example, of you weigh 140 pounds, you would calculate:

2.7 grams carbohydrates x 140 lbs = 378 grams of carbohydrate per day

Here are some menu ideas to help you reach your energy needs from carbohydrate:

Breakfast Options

  • Shredded wheat or bran cereal topped with sliced banana and nonfat milk
  • Hot cooked oatmeal topped with blueberries, chopped walnuts, and soy milk
  • Fresh fruit salad topped with nonfat yogurt and low fat granola
  • Low fat bran muffin, apple slices and coffee with milk
  • Raisin bagel or toast, poached egg, and fresh orange wedges

Mid-Morning Snack Options

  • CLIF Bar energy bar
  • Fresh fruit
  • Low fat yogurt
  • Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, seeds and cereal

Lunch Options

  • Vegetable-bean soup with whole grain baguette
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Slice of vegetable pizza with tossed salad
  • Veggie burger or single hamburger with fruit salad
  • Cold pasta salad loaded with veggies, tuna and vinaigrette dressing

Afternoon Snack Options

  • Carrots and oat bran pretzels dipped in hummus
  • Peanut butter on whole wheat crackers or graham crackers

Dinner Options

  • Fish, chicken, lean meat, or vegetarian meat-alternative
    Wheat pasta, quinoa, couscous, brown rice, or whole wheat roll

· Dark green and orange veggies

After-Dinner Snack Options

  • Fig bars and nonfat milk
  • Rice Pudding or tapioca
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Popcorn

With a little planning, the carbohydrates you eat can go a long way. Just be sure to experiment with pre-exercise foods and beverages during training and not on the day of the tournament! Stick with what has been “tried and true” for you.