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?