New Survey Results Show Athletes More Carb-Conscious Than Average Consumers

The age old myth of loading up on carbs to achieve a high-energy performance may no longer be the preferred nutrition choice for athletes. New research presented at the 2005 International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference and Symposium found that more athletes are choosing to control carbohydrates to preserve lean body mass and improve body composition for an enhanced workout performance.

In a survey conducted at the 26th Annual Broad Street Run, a 10-mile race in Philadelphia, nearly 30 percent of those that had 10 or more pounds to lose reported trying to reduce their carbohydrate intake, despite traditional recommendations to manage weight by cutting calories or fat. The majority of this group found this to be a successful tool for weight control for athletic performance.

According to Dr. Stuart Trager, eight-time Ironman competitor and Medical Director for Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., many athletes should make better carbohydrate choices. Contrary to popular belief, products like PowerBar do not give any special advantage to those consuming them before working out or competing. Research recently reported by the Stone Foundation for Sports Medicine and Arthritis Research found that a high-carbohydrate, sugar-laden product like a Pop-Tart can provide the same brief boost in energy that commonly used sports bars promise. The research concludes it will make little difference what an athlete uses to fuel themselves during their workout. Instead, athletes should focus on their eating habits outside of the gym, carefully selecting foods that are high in protein and fiber without the added sugars that can hinder their daily routine. Atkins products, such as Advantage bars and shakes, are packed with protein and free from added sugars and trans fats, making them the superior nutrition choice to others on the market.

“An energy bar high in sugars may fuel many during a workout, but active people rarely spend all their time training,” says Dr. Trager. “To truly manage weight, improve body composition and preserve lean muscle mass, athletes must concentrate on their nutrition choices for the other 22 hours in a day. Too many active people are sabotaging their workout results in their day-to-day life by eating energy bars packed with sugars.”

Recent research has confirmed the benefits of a controlled-carb approach in this regard. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise demonstrated that a controlled-carb approach allowed for maintenance of endurance performance, with increased fat burning during rest and during exercise. Stored muscle glycogen was also conserved. Additionally, improved fat loss, with preservation of lean body mass were seen in a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism in those following a controlled-carb approach versus a low-calorie protocol.

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