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Optimizing Athletic Performance—Are Carbohydrates Necessary?

by Debra A. Wein, MS, RD, NSCA-CPT and Nicole Schultz
Personal Training Quarterly April 2013
Vol 1, Issue 3

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Before sports nutritionists and coaches begin prescribing unconventional eating recommendations to athletes, it is important to consider the scientific evidence supporting a low-carbohydrate diet for boosting athletic performance.

While the Paleo diet parallels the dietary guidelines with respect to lean protein, healthy fat, and fresh fruits and vegetables, it completely restricts dairy and grains. Proponents of the Paleo diet for athletes argue against the need for traditional “carbo-loading” for performance and claim that a low-carbohydrate eating regimen can be beneficial for athletes. Before sports nutritionists and coaches begin prescribing eating recommendations to athletes that are unconventional from traditional standards, it is important to consider the scientific evidence supporting a low-carbohydrate diet for boosting athletic performance.

This article originally appeared in Personal Training Quarterly (PTQ)—a quarterly publication for NSCA Members designed specifically for the personal trainer. Discover easy-to-read, research-based articles that take your training knowledge further with Nutrition, Programming, and Personal Business Development columns in each quarterly, electronic issue. Read more articles from PTQ »

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Debra A. Wein

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Nicole Schultz

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