Athlete’s diet : which carbohydrates should be consumed?

Should we still eat pasta?

To function, our muscles need fuel. During endurance physical activity, our body uses 2 main sources of energy: carbohydrates and lipids. In high intensity efforts, it is mainly carbohydrates that are consumed. It is therefore advisable to refuel before setting off. But which carbohydrates should be preferred? The traditional pasta dish is not always the most appropriate. Explanations.

The reserves of our organism. A 2-speed fuel.

Carbohydrates and fats, the fuel of our body

Our body needs energy to function. Our brain, our organs, our muscles cannot indeed perform their function without fuel. This energy, we find it mainly in the carbohydrates and lipids provided by our food. During a sporting activity, our energy expenditure can be up to 3 times higher than that spent at rest.

Fat, inexhaustible reserves

Fat is our greatest source of energy. Our reserves are very large and almost inexhaustible. They weigh several kilos (on average 15% of the mass in a man, 25% in a woman) and alone provide great autonomy, the equivalent of several weeks of walking!

Carbohydrates to go fast, fat to go far

Carbohydrates run

Unfortunately, fat metabolism is a relatively slow process which is not enough on its own to support sustained efforts (marathon, competition, difficult bike ride). To support the effort, our body draws on the carbohydrate reserves at its disposal (muscle glycogen and carbohydrates supplied by the blood). While carbohydrates generally represent 50 to 60% of total energy expenditure, this figure can rise much higher in the case of intense effort.

Thus, we will mainly consume fats when walking (moderate effort) and mainly sugars when jogging or a mountain bike trip (sustained or even intense effort).

Limited carbohydrate reserves

However, carbohydrate reserves are limited. Muscle glycogen represents 2000 kcal at most (up to 4000 kcal in a trained athlete), the equivalent of 30 kilometers of jogging or 4 hours of cycling at a brisk pace. In reality, these times are shorter because only local reserves are used (glycogen in the legs for running or cycling, glycogen in the arms for rowing). Rather, one should consider at most 90 minutes of strenuous activity.

To be able to do his sport, the athlete must therefore ensure that he has filled up with carbohydrates before setting off.

What are the benefits of carbohydrates for the athlete?

Carbohydrates present various interests for the athlete:


  • Interest in sports carbohydrates
    Training and a good diet can increase and optimize muscle reserves

    They are used to replenish muscle reserves: before exercise, they are used to manufacture the precious muscle glycogen, the main fuel for our muscles. As we have seen above, these reserves are essential to maintain an endurance effort over time. It’s not about consuming just any carbohydrate for this. We will see it later. With training and a good sports diet, we can increase these reserves and optimize storage. See our file Gaining endurance: Increase your energy reserves!After the effort, the consumption of carbohydrates makes it possible to replenish the reserves for the next event, knowing that the few hours following the sports outing are the most conducive to this replenishment. We will see how to do this later.

  • They help maintain performance: the consumption of carbohydrates is essential during activity to slow the depletion of reserves and prolong the duration of the effort. This is especially important for long-term efforts. In fact, athletic performance drops even before glycogen stores have been depleted. This is what we see in the studies carried out to understand the famous “wall” of the marathon. Read our report The marathon wall: how to avoid it? . The consumption of carbohydrates is also of interest in intense short-term efforts.
  • They are involved in the rehydration process after exercise: each gram of glucose requires 3 grams of water to be stored. Hence the importance of drinking well after exercise to help replenish reserves!
  • They provide for daily energy expenditure: apart from the replenishment of reserves, the glucose that we absorb in the diet is used for the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), a molecule which, by hydrolysis, provides the energy necessary for our cells in the process of metabolism .


Blood sugar spike white bread

Quintupled muscle reserves!

Training allows you to increase muscle glycogen storage capacity by 20 to 50% and, by combining it with an appropriate diet, to multiply them by 4 or 5! The principle is based on a phenomenon of overcompensation: in the event of exhaustion of the available stock, our organism overloads the muscle cells with glycogen, thus filling the reserves beyond their initial level.

What carbohydrates to eat?

Carbohydrates: should we fear diabetes?
Pasta plate

According to recent studies, regularly consuming high glycemic index carbohydrates could be a risk factor for diabetes.

The causes of diabetes are still poorly understood. According to some specialists, the large and repeated consumption of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index could, in the long run, tire the pancreas or make our cells less sensitive to the effect of insulin and thus promote type 2 diabetes. reinforce certain scientific studies. Should the athlete, a big consumer of carbohydrates, be worried?

The different types of carbohydrates

There are different types of carbohydrates:


  • The simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) such as glucose, fructose or sucrose in fruits, honey, sugar, most sugary foods. They are made up of one or two molecules of glucose and are sweet in flavor.
  • The complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) such as starch or cellulose contained in starchy foods (cereals, pulses, vegetables, pasta, rice, etc.). They are made up of hundreds of glucose molecules. They don’t have a sweet flavor.


A distinction must also be made between digestible carbohydrates and non-digestible carbohydrates . During digestion, digestible carbohydrates are transformed into simple carbohydrates (fructose, glucose and galactose) so that they can pass into the blood. This is the phenomenon of hydrolysis. Non-digestible carbohydrates, like fiber, ferment in the colon. They do not enter the blood but promote intestinal transit and bacterial activity in the colon.

Be careful, do not confuse the speed of absorption of carbohydrates in the blood with their complexity. The two are not related, we will see in the next paragraph.

In addition, carbohydrates are distinguished from each other by their glycemic index . It is this criterion that we use for the choice of foods of the athlete. We talk about it below.

Slow and fast sugars: a wrong concept

High GI

For a long time, it was believed that complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, cereals, etc.), a priori more difficult to “break” into elementary bricks, penetrated more slowly into the blood than simple carbohydrates (fruit, honey, white sugar). . They have thus been classified into 2 categories well known to the sports world: slow sugars and fast sugars. Some slowly diffusing glucose into the blood (delay effect), others having an almost immediate effect.

However, according to studies carried out in the 80s, this concept is false: all carbohydrates have the same rate of absorption! Or approximately 30 minutes after their absorption on an empty stomach. A dish of white pasta or a plate of mashed potatoes has the same effect on blood sugar as half a liter of a sweet sucrose drink. These carbohydrates consumed alone cause the secretion of a high spike of insulin which promotes their storage as fat and causes reactive hypoglycemia. Thus, carbohydrates should no longer be categorized according to their complexity but their glycemic index .


More glycogen, less fat!

Glycemic indexTo store glycogen instead of fat, eat low glycemic index carbohydrates

Favor low glycemic index carbohydrates ! to replenish your reserves: lentils, whole grains, basmati rice, wholemeal bread, fruits and vegetables. Accompany your carbohydrates with products rich in fiber (salad, vegetables, soup as a starter) to reduce GI. You will promote storage in the form of glycogen rather than fat!

Glycemic index and insulin peak: choose the carbohydrates according to the objective!

The glycemic index or glycemic index (GI) is an indicator making it possible to compare foods containing carbohydrates with each other. It indicates the hyperglycemic power of a food, ie its ability to raise blood glucose compared to a reference food (generally glucose in Europe and white bread in the United States).

The higher the index, the faster the blood sugar induced by the food consumed. Our body then reacts to restore the blood sugar level to its normal level. To do this, the pancreas releases more or less insulin depending on the increase in blood sugar. The higher the peak of insulin secreted, the more excess carbohydrates in the blood tend to be stored as fat.

In reality, things are a bit more complex because the insulin peak depends on the amount of carbohydrate absorbed. This is why researchers have developed another index that takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in the food consumed: the glycemic load .

To learn more about the glycemic index and glycemic load, the storage process, and to know the glycemic index and glycemic load of a few common foods, see our features The Glycemic Index and The Glycemic Load .

Experiments (D. Thomas, 1991) have also shown that athletes consuming low GI carbohydrates (lentils) during the last meal taken 1 hour before the race, had better endurance than those consuming high GI carbohydrates (apples). earthen).

Select carbohydrates according to when you eat them:


  • Replenishment: Consume low to moderate GI carbohydrates.
  • 3 hours before exercise (last meal): consume low GI carbohydrates
  • During exercise: consume low and high GI carbohydrates (liquid diet preferably)
  • Right after exercise: consume low and high GI carbohydrates within 4 hours of exercise, then low GI carbohydrates.


Pasta: watch out for fat storage and reactive hypoglycemia!

Most refined starches (bread, rice, pasta) have a hyperglycemic power comparable to that of white sugar. Consumed unaccompanied, they induce a significant spike in blood sugar. As we saw above, these carbohydrates tend to be stored as fat rather than muscle glycogen. They will therefore make you gain fat (stomach in men, buttocks, thighs, hips in women) and tire the pancreas in the long run. They are not recommended for replenishing reserves. The dish of white pasta or mashed potatoes should therefore be avoided from the sports diet, in particular the day before a competition.

Sport and pasta
Most refined starches have hyperglycemic power comparable to white sugar!

To avoid this situation, eat whole grains. Their GI is indeed lower because of the fibers they contain. Spaghetti is interesting for its moderate GI. Prefer al dente cooking. Cooking increases the glycemic index. If you absolutely want to eat refined pasta or mashed potatoes, serve them with vegetables. The soluble fibers they contain cannot be assimilated. They slow down the effect of digestive juices and limit the absorption of glucose in the intestine. Thus the concomitant intake of vegetables decreases the overall value of the GI. The downside to fiber, however, is that it can irritate your intestines. The right compromise will therefore have to be found.

To learn more about the glycemic index and the glycemic load, the factors influencing their value and to see a summary table of foods, see our files The glycemic index and The glycemic load .

When to consume carbohydrates?

A balanced diet should include carbohydrates. The athlete must consume more, according to the type of activity, the duration and the intensity of the effort. He should consume it before, during and immediately after exercise. The key times to consume carbohydrates are:


  • The day before the event (or even the days preceding): to fully recharge muscle reserves.
  • The day of the test: to recharge the liver reserves emptied during the night. Plan your last meal at least 3 hours before the outing so that digestion is complete upon departure. This time can be shortened if the effort is moderate. Read our tips for preparing a sporty breakfast .
  • During exercise: to maintain the blood sugar level and save liver and muscle glycogen and thus extend the duration of the effort. This is valid even for sports of short duration (30 to 60 minutes) and sports requiring short but intense efforts (tennis, football, volleyball, etc.)
  • After the effort: to replenish reserves. Eat a diet rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals immediately after exercise. The first 4 hours after exercise are the most effective in rebuilding muscle glycogen. For long-lasting events, this is the only way to fully recover in 24 hours.


We describe in more detail in the following section what these phases consist of as well as the foods to be favored.

In practice: which carbohydrates to consume and when?

This section aims to give you some practical advice adapted to endurance sports. You will of course have to adapt these tips according to your profile, specific diet, state of health, goals, intensity and duration of the sporting activity. Seek the advice of your doctor or nutritionist for advice tailored to your state of health.

As a general rule, choose foods containing good carbohydrates, ie low in fat, rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements and easy to digest. Diversify your diet to optimize nutrient intake. When not working out, choose foods with a low to moderate glycemic index.

The days before the event: maintain your energy reserves

The literature advises to consume more carbohydrates during the 3 days before the competition but recent studies show that a diet rich in carbohydrates the day before would suffice. However, your sporting regime will not be the same for a one-hour hike in the forest as for a 5-hour bike ride including the ascent of the Galibier. For a series of strenuous outings or for a competition, you must pay particular attention to the dietary preparation the days before the tests, during the outings and immediately after. Whatever the type of activity, always avoid high GI carbohydrates before departure so as not to experience hypoglycemia which would greatly reduce your abilities.

It is possible, through training and a good diet, to increase muscle reserves. We cover this point in our article Gain endurance: Increase your energy reserves! .

The rebuilding of the reserves begins immediately after the effort .

In practice

To meet your needs in the case of regular sporting activity, choose a diversified and quality diet and increase the proportion of carbohydrates by favoring foods with a low or moderate glycemic index such as:


  • Full starch carbohydrates

    Unrefined cereals: semi-complete or whole pasta, wholemeal bread. Prefer barley or oats to wheat.

  • Brown rice or basmati rice
  • Foods rich in fiber: fruits, vegetables
  • Buckwheat
  • Sweet potatoes. Avoid grinding (mash) which increases GI
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, peas.


Avoid refined cereals (banches pasta, white rice, white bread), mashed potatoes, fruit juices and of course sweets and pastries. All of these foods generate strong spikes in insulin promoting their storage as fat and can cause reactive hypoglycemia. Wheat in any form is not recommended. You can replace it with spelled, kamut, barley, oats or even millet.

Serve your dishes with vegetables and proteins, preferably vegetables (legumes for example): these foods lower the overall GI of your meal. In addition, they are low in lipids and rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements essential to the body. Vary your diet and eat foods from each of the following groups:


  • Carbohydrate fruits

    Meat, fish, eggs (animal proteins, lipids)

  • Vegetables, fruits, legumes (vegetable protein, fiber, low GI carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals)
  • Whole or semi-whole grains like pasta, bread, rice (carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals)
  • Fat like oil (preferably vegetable), butter (lipids)
  • Dairy products (animal proteins, lipids, carbohydrates)


Drink water.

The day before the event: fill up on muscle glycogen!

Fill up on carbohydrates! Your meal should be both high in carbohydrate and low in fat and protein.

In practice

Eat light. Consume carbohydrates at a rate of 4 to 6 g / kg of weight, or at least 300 g. Favor low and moderate GI carbohydrates, lean meats (poultry, lean ham) or low-fat fish, vegetable proteins (legumes, vegetables, dried fruits). Avoid eating fatty foods (fatty meats, eggs, cheese, oilseeds, cold meats), this will slow down your digestion. You can season your dishes with a little vegetable oil (olive, nuts, etc.). Avoid acidifying products (pizza, cheese, alcohol, red meats, refined products, prepared meals). Do not abuse fiber to avoid intestinal problems and gas at night (prefer semi-complete rather than whole pasta, avoid salads and fruit). Do not overeat in order to sleep well. Finally, drink some

Burner: it boosts your metabolism and naturally burns reserves

Boutique Nature has created the Burner, a formula that combines three plants, guarana, green tea and citrus aurantium, known to promote the body’s natural ability to burn its reserves. The Burner also contains piloselle which promotes drainage and elimination, vitamin B6 and spirulina.

On the day of the test: replenish your liver glycogen!

On the day of the test, if the muscle reserves are complete, those of the liver are not because the organs, in particular the brain, consume almost all of its reserves during the night. The liver can store around 100 g of glycogen. It is therefore advisable to consume carbohydrates at the last meal by choosing them with a low glycemic index in order to avoid reactive hypoglycemia.

This last meal should be taken at least 3 hours before the outing in the event of a significant effort (competition for example), in order to allow digestion to be completed before departure. For the case of moderate effort, you can shorten this time. If you don’t have enough time, eat foods that are quick to digest. Digestion in fact consumes energy and reduces your physical capacities. Eat light and only foods that you are used to.

In practice

Your meal may consist of dried fruits, whole grains (avoid cornflakes for their high GI), wholemeal bread (preferably toasted) or buttered rusks accompanied by a little honey or jam, or yogurt. without sugar, an egg or a slice of lean ham. You can also eat semi-wholemeal pasta if you can stand it or even basmati rice. Be careful, however, of products rich in insoluble fiber (most whole grains, green leafy vegetables) which can create intestinal discomfort, and milk which can cause stomach upset. Turn to soluble fiber (legumes, figs, barley, buckwheat, fruit). Avoid fatty products (meat, fatty fish, various fats), which are slow to digest.

Just before the test

In the case of a competition-type sporting event, the stress caused releases hormones which greatly increase the consumption of glycogen. Hepatitis reserves thus decrease between the last meal and the start of the test. To avoid this depletion, it is advisable to consume a few low glycemic index carbohydrates before departure.

In practice

Have a fructose drink of the wait. Fructose does not induce a blood sugar spike. . Avoid sugary drinks (fruit juice, cola, etc.) and carbohydrate bars which rapidly increase blood sugar levels and cause reactive hypoglycemia which would penalize your performance at the start!

15 minutes before the test

Stop all feeding. Do not consume more than pure water to promote lipolysis (use of fat) from the start of the race. It is important to drink to start the event well hydrated.

5 minutes before departure

From the warm-up phase, or even 5 minutes before departure, start consuming carbohydrates again. These will take at least 7 minutes to reach the bloodstream and will be used by the muscles, thus decreasing the use of muscle and liver glycogen without causing reactive hypoglycemia.

During the test: consume carbohydrates, preferably in liquid form

Drink a carbohydrate drink!

Isotonic drinkingStaying hydrated during exercise is essential and even vital for the proper functioning of the body. Water is used to cool the active body and prevent heat stroke. Loss of water makes the blood thicker, straining the heart, lower oxygen supply and lower performance. 1% water loss leads to a 10% decrease in performance and health risks (tendonitis, kidney stones, etc.

Find out more

In addition, your drink must contain carbohydrates and be isotonic.

Consume carbohydrates regularly in order to prolong your reserves, avoid cravings and maintain performance. This remains valid for intense sports of short duration (less than an hour) or sports requiring short but intense efforts (football, tennis, volleyball, etc.), even if the time taken for carbohydrates to reach the blood might suggest otherwise.

The experiments (Coyle, 1986 and Coggan, 1987) indeed show that the consumption of carbohydrates during the effort makes it possible to prevent the fall of the glycemia and to increase the use of carbohydrates, therefore to prolong the time of effort. Regarding intense and short efforts, studies (Anantaraman, 1996, Below, 1995 and Jeukendrup, 1996) show that glucose absorption increases performance. This would be due to signals transmitted to the brain and controlling performance rather than the effect of the carbohydrates themselves.

You can eat all types of carbohydrates. The high glycemic index carbohydrates consumed during exercise do not induce an insulin spike. On the contrary, during an effort, our body destocks its reserves. Any sugar ingested, up to a certain limit, comes in addition to these reserves to be directly used by the muscles which thus preserve their stocks. However, prefer easily digestible sugars (glucose gels, honey, fruit paste, isotonic drink , etc. which have a quick effect.

Favor carbohydrate drinks and gels consumed with pure water: they are easier to bear than a solid diet and they hydrate you. Good hydration is indeed necessary to avoid injuries (strains, tendonitis, muscle pain) and renal colic. Our body also needs water to convert glycogen into energy and maintain optimal performance: a loss of 1% of water leads to a 10% drop in performance. The feeling of thirst indicates significant dehydration that will be difficult to catch up. Find out more: Hydration and sports performance .

In the efforts of more than 3 hours, a solid diet is useful to provide more carbohydrates and to avoid monotony. However, this type of food can quickly be disgusting during intensive efforts, not to mention that it does not provide the body with water. In addition, digestion consumes energy and is slowed down by activity. Cereal bars, fruit pastes or other products also slow gastric bleeding. In running sports (marathon, jogging), they can even cause stomach pain due to repeated shocks.

Avoid products containing fiber and too much fructose: these foods can cause bloating, gas and stomach pain. We advise you to test them outside of long outings or competitions.


Did you know?
Our stomachs cannot evacuate more than 750 ml to 1 liter per hour. Less if it’s hot or if the drink is sweet. You must therefore drink in small sips, regularly and your drink must be isotonic .

In practice

Drink regularly, every 10 to 15 minutes, in small sips. Your drink should be isotonic. Drink 0.5 to 0.7 liters of drink per hour. Beyond that, your stomach will no longer keep pace (the speed of the gastric purge is limited).

Supplement your liquid diet with a solid diet, if you can support it: fruit jellies, cereal bars, gingerbread, dried fruits, rice cake, semolina, dry biscuits. In fact, liquid food, due to the limitations of gastric purging, does not provide enough calories (300 to 900 kcal / h expended depending on the intensity of the effort). Swallow one to two energy bars per hour (1 bar per hour for moderate efforts, 2 bars for demanding efforts) and a few cookies or a serving of rice cake every two hours. For outings of more than 4-5 hours, take with you a small light sandwich (sandwich bread, lean ham or cottage cheese) easier to consume than energy bars. However, avoid raw fruits and vegetables which can cause digestive problems, fatty products, chocolate bars and marzipan which are difficult to digest. Test any new product or food before using them in competition!

Immediately after the test: eat at the end of the outing

Glycogen reconstruction is optimal immediately after exercise (Ivy 1991, Morris 1994). It is therefore necessary to take advantage of the few hours which follow the activity to reconstitute the reserves, in particular in the case of a new test occurring the following day. You can eat any carbohydrate, whether simple or complex, low or high GI. The insulin spikes caused will store them as glycogen and not as fat reserves. It should be noted that high GI sugars would be more effective for this reconstruction immediately after exercise and that recovery would be faster if we accompany these carbohydrates with a little protein (Zawadski, 1992). You must also drink to rehydrate yourself and allow the rebuilding of the reserves (3 g of

In practice

Consume carbohydrates immediately after exercise, where glycogen synthesis is optimal, and up to 24 hours after exercise. Favor high GI carbohydrates in the first 30 minutes: diluted carbohydrate drink, cookies, fruits, dried fruits, fruit juice accompanied by yogurt, small sandwiches of bread and ham and / or cream cheese, juice of vegetables.

Drink a lot! Rehydrate yourself by drinking a carbohydrate drink until the meal and a little sparkling water, rich in bicarbonates, to eliminate the acids accumulated in the blood. Then continue to hydrate yourself with plain water. Proper hydration is necessary to eliminate waste accumulated during activity, recover mineral losses and allow glucose to settle. If you drink mineral water, change brands regularly to diversify the minerals and optimize recovery in the medium term.

Your meal should be light, low in fat and low in protein to facilitate the elimination of waste. Favor fruits and vegetables as well as low glycemic index carbohydrates: legumes (lentils, chickpeas, basmati rice, wholemeal pasta, buckwheat, steamed or boiled potatoes, etc.).

How much carbohydrate should I eat?

According to AFSSA (French Food Safety Agency), the recommended nutritional intake (ANC) for a person practicing at most a leisure sport, are 30 to 35% lipids, 50 to 55% carbohydrates and 12 at 15% protein.

In athletes, the proportion of carbohydrates and proteins should be slightly increased depending on the type of activity, its frequency and its intensity. The proportion of carbohydrates should be around 55-60% of the calories consumed. The amount of carbohydrates to consume depends on the weight in muscles, the type of activity (endurance or strength) and the training (the more you are trained, the more the muscles store reserves).

Daily needs

By considering the daily caloric needs (1800 to 2000 kcal / day for a woman and 2200 to 2400 kcal / day for a man) and adding the energy expenditure caused by sport, we can easily deduce the carbohydrate needs, knowing that 1g of carbohydrates produces 4 kcal. For example, for a sedentary man, the daily consumption of carbohydrates should be of the order of 0.55 x 2400 = 1320 kcal or 330 g of carbohydrates. If he practices 1 hour of intensive sport every day (500 to 600 kcal), he will need about 100 g of additional carbohydrates (one hour of intensive sport expends 500 to 600 kcal of which more than 80% are carbohydrates).

In practice, it is considered that between 4 and 6 g / kg of carbohydrates per day are required, or 300 to 400 g for a man of 70 kg.

Good to know

Athletes preparing for a difficult outing must consume carbohydrates at a rate of 4.5 to 6 g / kg of their weight per day before the outing, 60 g / h during exercise and 10 g / kg of their weight for the following 24 hours the effort.

During the effort

According to studies (Hawley, 1992), the athlete can oxidize up to 1 to 1.2 g / min of carbohydrates provided by the diet (known as exogenous carbohydrates), or 60 to 70 g / h .

After the effort

Muscle reserves depend on gender, muscle mass and level of training. They vary between 1 to 1.5% in the sedentary and more than 4% in the very trained athlete and having followed a specific diet (Costill et al., 1981). In practice, this represents approximately 600 to 800 g in the athlete (more than 1 kg in the athlete) or approximately 10 g / kg of weight .

To quickly reconstitute glycogenic reserves after exercise, if they are exhausted, you must therefore consume carbohydrates at a rate of 10g / kg of weight within 24 hours after exercise. Start by consuming 1.5 g / kg of weight within 30 minutes of activity and then every two hours for 6 hours, to reach 10g / kg in total (i.e. 700 g in a moderately trained 70 kg man).

In summary, for a sustained sporting activity and a test completely emptying the muscle reserves:

Period Amount For a 70 kg man
Days before the event 4 to 6 g / kg per day 280 to 420 g
During the test 60 g / h
After the test 10 g / kg distributed over 24 hours 700 g

Additional tips to optimize your carbohydrate diet

Watch out for refined products. Prefer whole grains to replenish the reserves.

The bark of cereals (rice, cereals, etc.) contains fibers that help reduce their glycemic index. For a sports preparation, prefer complete products which have a lower GI than their refined equivalent.

Watch the cooking!

Cooking and grinding food breaks the starch fibers present in food. The more you cook pasta, the more its GI increases. Likewise, cooking and grinding increase the GI of the potato. To fill up with glycogen the day before a competition, prefer wholemeal pasta al dente rather than mashed potatoes.

Tips for reducing the hyperglycemic effect of food

The hyperglycemic power of foods can vary depending on the way they are prepared and on their accompaniment. Fiber helps slow down the digestion of carbohydrates as well as their absorption in the intestine and thus reduces GI. Proteins and lipids slow down digestion, thus the absorption time in the intestine. Mechanical treatments (grinding, cooking) increase the value of the index.

Carbohydrates for fruits and vegetablesThus, to decrease the GI:


  • Serve your carbohydrates (pasta, rice, mash) with vegetables or green salad, foods rich in fiber.
  • For breakfast, opt for wholemeal bread with a little butter and jam or honey. If you prefer white bread, serve it with cottage cheese or lean ham rather than jam. Eat your cereal with milk or plain yogurt. Avoid fruit juice, replace it with the fruit itself (orange, apple, kiwi). Discover our tips for an ideal sports breakfast .
  • Dessert and GIAvoid sweets and pastries outside of meals. Keep them at the end of a meal, as a dessert: these sugars will have little effect on your blood sugar, especially if your meal is high in fiber.
  • Eat the fruit whole rather than in juice or compote. Fiber decreases GI, cooking and grinding increases it.


Desserts less hyperglycemic than they seem

Taken at the end of a meal, especially if it was rich in fiber (vegetables, etc.), the sweet dessert has a lesser effect on blood sugar. The dilution effect due to other foods indeed decreases its glycemic index and thus the evolution of glycemia. Its effects on your figure will therefore remain modest, therefore on their storage in the form of fat.

In summary
Consume carbohydrates before, during and after the effort!


  • Recharge muscle reserves before the event by consuming low or moderate GI carbohydrates at a rate of 4 to 6 g / kg of weight per day. Your diet should be diverse and rich in vitamins , minerals and trace elements.
  • Fill up on hepatic (liver) glycogen on the day of the event by consuming low GI carbohydrates at least 3 hours before the start and avoiding fatty foods and foods high in fiber.
  • Consume a drink from the wait until 15 minutes before departure. Drink water afterwards.
  • From the start and throughout the sporting activity, consume carbohydrates, preferably high GI, at a rate of 60 g / h, mainly in the form of isotonic drink, by drinking small sips every 10-15 minutes.
  • Immediately after exercise, consume carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. Hydrate regularly, eat light and consume 10g / kg of carbohydrates during the 24 hours following the end of the sporting activity (700 g for a man of 70 kg).

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