The right carbs can maximize your energy on the court. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Think back to a time you felt sluggish on the court and your energy was super low. Most likely that moment was caused by a lack of fuel, primarily carbohydrate fuel.

Now, I know the word on the street may be that carbs are the enemy to your metabolism, but I have some breaking news for you…. Carbohydrates are your friend and will help maximize your energy each match!

Just think about it, how can grilled asparagus, fresh blueberries, crisp roasted red potatoes, a warm bowl of oatmeal or a dish of zesty brown rice and quinoa not be good for your body??

The truth is this: Carbohydrates Are Your Body’s Main Source of Fuel

All carbohydrates (with the exception of fiber) are broken down through your digestion into glucose. Glucose is the fuel for your central nervous system (CNS). Your CNS is your command center, and along with your brain it manages every breath, heartbeat, movement, and thought you have. So think of carbohydrates as your “brain fuel.”

“Brain Fuel” Can Be Classified into Two Categories, Simple and Complex.

Simple carbohydrates are named as such because your digestive system can quickly metabolize them into glucose for use as energy. Think of a time when you ate a piece of fruit or drank some juice and then within minutes felt a rush of energy. This energy rush was caused by your body quickly metabolizing the fruit or juice into glucose, making it readily available.

Complex carbohydrates are called “complex” because they take longer to break down (metabolize) into glucose. There are two types of complex carbohydrates: starches and fiber. Starches are your heavier, denser carbohydrates, like quinoa, rice, potatoes, and beans. Fiber is the non-digestible portion of the carbohydrate and cannot be used for energy.

Both simple and complex carbohydrates are important in helping stabilize your blood sugar.

Simple carbohydrates get broken down faster than complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are packed with more calories than simple ones.

If you eat only simple carbohydrates, you may be hungry all the time and constantly find yourself with low blood sugar. If you eat only complex carbohydrates, you will end up eating too many per meal and feel full and bloated.

Now, once you know carbs are your friend, the next big question is how many carbs should you eat throughout the day?

It’s super important to remember every meal needs to be PFC balanced, which is eating a balance of protein, fats and carbs every 3 hours. This keeps your blood sugar balanced and your metabolism rocking! 

As you eat carbs, the question isn’t when to eat carbs, it’s more about how much to eat per meal.

Now you know the facts about carbs, so the next time you feel your energy dropping on the court, make sure you remember that carbs are your friend and they should be part of every meal you eat.

Mark Macdonald is a world renowned nutrition and fitness expert, best-selling author, television personality, international teacher and speaker, and entrepreneur who has coached everyone from celebrities to athletes to business executives to busy moms.

He is the founder of Venice Nutrition and the IBNFC: International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaching, author of the New York Times Bestselling books Body Confidence and Why Kids Make You Fat...and How to Get Your Body Back, as well as a featured health expert for many national media outlets.