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Fitness & Performance

Carbohydrates and Exercise: Why You Need Carbs if You’re Active

Dana Ryan, Ph.D., M.A., MBA – Director, Sports Performance, Nutrition and Education 21 July 2023

Carbohydrates are the most important source of fuel in an athlete’s diet; however, there is a common misconception that all carbs are bad. In fact, there are many types of healthy carbs that should be included in everyone’s daily nutrition.

Here are the top five reasons why these types of carbs are beneficial and why you shouldn’t fear or avoid them!

1. Carbohydrates fuel the brain and muscles.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our brains and are the fastest way for our bodies to produce energy. Carbs act for your body as fuel acts for your car. As with a car, we have limited stores of carbs in our bodies, and since they help to sustain you through workouts or sports, it is important to consume adequate carbs throughout your training.

2. Carbohydrates prevent muscle breakdown.

By eating enough carbohydrates throughout the day, protein is free to do its main job: repair and rebuild muscle tissue. If we limit carbohydrates, protein will be needed as an energy source and not be utilized to build lean muscles. While it is very common in sports to see athletes only consume protein after a workout, the combination of protein plus carbs is actually the key to recovery.

3. Carbohydrates should make up the majority of your diet.  

For athletes, a high-carb diet is needed in order to sustain the daily demands of training and exercise. While the needs will vary based on the individual and the type of exercise or sports they engage in, carbs will always make up a majority of calories.

4. Carbohydrates before a workout will boost your performance.

Fueling up with adequate carbs one to two hours before exercising helps maintain optimal levels of blood glucose for our muscles.

Choose preworkout snacks that are easy to digest, such as bananas, an English muffin with jam, a granola bar or Herbalife24® Formula 1 Sport*. 

5. Carbohydrates accelerate recovery.

Consuming carbohydrates after exercising helps replenish the energy stores that were just utilized during a strenuous workout.

Muscles need protein and carbohydrates to properly recover and become stronger. Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength is a great option for any workout, but for higher intensity or endurance training, you can blend it with fruit for extra carbs.

* This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Products not available in all markets. Visit your regional site or speak to your local distributor for product details.