Are Fat or Carbs Good for Athletes?

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In today’s day and age, many people are watching what they eat and how it affects their waistline. Athletes commonly eat fats and carbs, especially good ones that come from nuts, avocados and extra-virgin olive oil. Adding these things to your everyday diet is good, but in moderation. While research is still being done on how these good fats and carbs work, moderately active people can add them to their diet without negative side effects.

Here is why. The body needs fats and carbohydrates as part of a healthy and well-balanced diet. The fat helps your digestive track keep moving and the carbs provide your body fuel for exercise. Fat breaks down into fatty acids before it can be used as fuel and unless you exercise vigorously and burn it off, the body stores it. Some diets, like the ketogenic diet, force the body to use fat as an energy source. People who achieve “ketoadaptation” can lose weight from a diet that is 85 percent fat.

Unless you are on the ketogenic diet or are an ultra-athlete, keeping carbs and fats in your meals to a minimum is the best thing. You should not have more than 20 to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake in fats and no more than 40 to 50 percent of any meal should be healthy carbs, like vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruits. Removing added sugars and high-carb, starch-laden foods from your diet is also recommended.

Most of the general public is sedentary and not active enough to burn off the amount of carbohydrates we put into our bodies. Even moving for about an hour a day is not enough to use all the carbs we eat and we put ourselves at risk of disease. Instead of reaching for the easy, tasty empty carbs, reach for things that are filling and healthy.

In a balanced diet, fats and good carbs can give you energy, help you lose weight and promote good cardiovascular health. The key is not to overdo it. Make healthy food choices, such as two slices of avocado instead of French fries. Exercise will help use the energy the carbs and fats create in your body instead of storing them as fat that you will fight to get rid of later. You do need to be an ultra-athlete or marathon runner to enjoy the benefits good carbs and fats can provide.

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