October 6, 2019
Remember the days of pasta parties? I would carb-load like no other! Whether it was the 8 & Under champs, the night before the 400 IM at Junior Olympics or the pasta and garlic bread filled hotel dinner before the NESCAC championships, our relationship with carbohydrates as a swimmer is pretty crucial (and quite comical, since swimmers are typically feared in the dining hall). Nowadays, there is this overwhelming aversion to carbohydrates. Whether we deem carbohydrates as the main culprit of weight gain (ah, the dreaded freshman 15!) or attempt to eliminate carb sources in our diets, we are actually threatening our athletic performance. You’re not doing your body any favors by avoiding carbohydrates. In fact, we need carbohydrates, as it is our body’s main source of energy.
It is important to understand how different types of this macronutrient affect our bodies. All carbohydrates are not made equal. Essentially, there are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are fast digesting and provide us with short bursts of energy. Since our bodies utilize simple carbs so quickly, we are likely to experience low satiety and a crash of fatigue after consumption. The biggest source of simple carbs in our diets is sugar. Refined grains, such as white bread, white flour and breakfast cereals contain simple carbs. Compared to simple carbs, complex carbs are slow digesting and provide long lasting energy. Complex carb sources like whole grains, beans, oatmeal, apples, bananas and sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients and satiating dietary fiber. These foods will keep you full for longer and won’t cause your energy levels to crash.
But where does pasta fit into all of this? Regular pasta made from refined flour is a simple carb. This is partly the reason why pasta gets a bad rap. However, whole grain or plant-based pasta is the better-for-you option!
Click here for some good recipes.