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Performance Enhancing….Without Steroids

This weekend’s sports highlights were the following: the Cardinals won the World Series, the Steelers beat the Patriots and schools such as MIT, Princeton, Georgetown and your very own George Washington University participated in the Princeton Chase for rowing. What do these sports all have in common? They all require athletes to perform at their best.

Now just because baseball players like Mark McGwire may have used steroids doesn’t mean that all athletes use them. In fact, athletes, particularly student athletes, are tested so as to ensure that they don’t use steroids. So how do they increase their performance ability? The answer can be found in carbs! Carbohydrate loading (a.k.a carbo-loading or carb-loading) is a process that spans days before a major event, such as a World Series game or a race. It can be broken down into two phases. Phase one takes place about a week prior to game day. During this phase, athletes lower their carbohydrate intake so as to deplete the carb energy they already have stored as glycogen ( a chain of glucose molecules that is used for the temporary storage of energy). The next phase, phase two, occurs just a few days prior to game day when the athlete will drastically increase their carb intake to replace the energy stores they depleted. This gives the athlete a new, fresher source of energy to draw from on game day! Mayo Clinic provides a much more detailed breakdown of the carbo-loading diet on their website.

For some people this may seem like blasphemy! “Carbs are evil” is a popular notion among the dieting community. In reality, carbohydrates in the right quantity and quality are very nutritional. By carbs, I don’t mean potato chips or french fries. I’m talking about pasta or whole wheat bread, foods that are healthier. But in the end, it’s not only what you eat, its how you use it. Eating right is important, but it’s only half the battle!

Now that you know the “secret” to athletic success, the kind that doesn’t get a million dollar contract terminated and decimates your chances at the hall of fame, what do you think? Have any of you carbo-loaded before when you were playing sports in high school? Do you know any other fun, scientific, nutritional facts?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 1, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Pasta dinners before my meets are what I live for! My team is a big believer in eating right, and eating the right stuff. So Pasta and breadsticks along with a salad is the best thing to do the evening before a meet. On the day of a big meet or competition we are all encouraged to eat a light, healthy meal. This can be anything from an omelet to yogurts mixed with fruit. Your breakfast is one of the most important meals. If you skip breakfast your mood, energy levels, and even your body’s metabolism. The key thing is that we should all try to grab a bite of food in the mornings. If you’re like me that can be an apple while you’re running late to your favorite writing class, or maybe you’re a morning person and will wake up an grab some oatmeal before class. All that matters is that we all should try to be more conscious of what we eat. It might even help you fight off that freshman 15.

  2. dj74
    November 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    My track coach in high school, Coach Howard Lindsay, was an Olympic sprint hurdler for Antigua and Barbuda in the 90s and carb-loading is what we did before every major meet. At first we were obviously apprehensive because it seemed like we were on some kind of diet whenever he would yell at us in the cafeteria for picking up some carbs, but believe me it did wonders. Literally everyone ran a personal best (PR) at the first meet after we carb-loaded. But this is not the only nutritional practice we did. We were encouraged highly NOT to consume any kind of dairy product the day before, or the day of a meet. This is because, no matter whether you are lactose intolerant or not, dairy products breakdown slowly and therefore require more energy use by the body for a longer time (which is obviously not could before a race). Previous or current athletes have probably experienced sever cramps during a workout or match, after consuming a lot of milk or cheese.

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