The importance of carbohydrates and fats in running

In a correct and balanced diet, the balance between macronutrients is essential.

Considering the variability of nutritional needs from person to person, in athletes not satisfying the energy needs has negative repercussions not only on the state of health but also on performance.

Running represents the perfect type of aerobic training, where the most important fuels are first of all carbohydrates, but certainly also fats.

Carbohydrates and fats, in the right proportions, must never be lacking.

Carbohydrates, traditionally classified into simple (sugars) and complex (starches and fibers), are stored in the form of glycogen in the liver, to keep blood sugar stable, and in the muscles where they are used for energy, but also have a reserve function and support. Each carbohydrate produces a different response in the body, also in response to the intensity and duration of exercise, physical fitness and pre-workout diet.

Whether it is training or competition, the first step is to assume, through nutrition, the qualitatively and quantitatively correct carbohydrate share, in order to optimize performance; for example, before a workout, 1-2 hours before, it is possible to have a snack with low glycemic index carbohydrates (for example with an energy bar or semi-wholemeal rusks), while before or during a competition, when the performance it will be long-lasting, it is possible to take some food supplements, such as maltodextrins, which are well assimilated, and with a gradual release of energy, without affecting blood sugar.

Lipids, commonly called fats, also play a fundamental role in the body; participate in the structure of membranes and tissues, provide essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.

For the Runner, fats represent a wild card to provide energy to the body already in low intensity or when glycogen stores begin to run low.

In traditional diets, fats are demonized, pushing towards high-protein diets, when instead we must always take into account the quality and type of macronutrients taken. Therefore, in everyday nutrition, unsaturated and non-hydrogenated fats should be preferred; we find them for example in extra virgin olive oil, dried fruit, oil seeds, but also in some plant species, such as avocado, and animals, such as salmon and herring.

Doc. Ilaria Zago
R&D Proaction