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Had Your Energy Break?
Had Your Energy Break?If you’ve ever felt like you were running on fumes, here’s food for thought: a recent survey of more than 1,000 people conducted on behalf of Georgia State University and Gatorade Energy Bar, found a majority are not eating frequently enough, which research shows may contribute to sluggishness. New research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests athletes perform better when they take “energy breaks” throughout the day.

The survey revealed that 90 percent of athletes are not eating properly—they’re sticking to the typical three meals a day. “Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for athletes, yet most athletes cannot maximize their carbohydrate intake through the typical breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Dan Benardot, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., corresponding author of the study, author of Nutrition for Serious Athletes (2000), Co-Director of the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance and Associate Dean for the College of Health and Human Services at Georgia State University.

“To maximize performance and avoid energy deficits, athletes need to consume foods with carbohydrates frequently. Eating smaller portions throughout the day can give athletes the energy they need to perform at their best,” explains Dr. Benardot. He warns that not eating properly may cause athletes to become mentally and physically exhausted, thus increasing the risk of injury.

The survey also revealed that 76 percent of athletes believe it’s best to limit what they eat between meals to stay fit. “Not true,” says Dr. Benardot. “The body can only store so much carbohydrate at one time, so it’s better to eat small amounts throughout the day rather than loading up at one meal. Research has shown that taking ‘energy breaks’ between meals not only helps athletes avoid energy deficits, but also enables them to build more muscle mass.”

A carbohydrate-rich food, such as the Gatorade Energy Bar, fits well into Dr. Benardot’s recommended eating pattern. “An energy bar formulated with an easily digested blend of complex and simple carbohydrates will provide athletes with energy to help maintain strength and endurance during workouts and will help replace depleted carbohydrate stores after exercise,” says Dr. Benardot.

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