Hydration : To Carb Or Not To Carb…That Is The Question

There are a variety of situations in sport and fitness when we may need to consume carbohydrate (carbs) as a way of energising and fuelling exercise. The purpose of this is to maximise performance…simple as. Isotinic drinks are the most popular ergogenic aid (performance enhancer) out there; they deliver your body with electrolyte, carbs, and of course...fluid! However, there are situations when fluid i.e. plain water or squash in enough, but how do we as the consumer know when this is, and how do we minimise the risk of accumulating body fat through the unnecessary consumption of carbs?

Well, you need to consider the type of activity you’re performing, as well as the duration of exercise, therefore the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) have devised a table explaining this:

Brief exercise (<45mins) = No carbs replenishment needed during.

Sustained high intensity exercise (45-75mins) = Small amounts including mouth rinse.

Endurance exercise including “stop and start” sports (1-2.5hrs) = 30-60g carbs per hour…e.g. High 5 Isotonic delivers 46g Carbs per 500ml serving.

Ultra-endurance events (>2.5-3hrs) = Up to 90g carbs per hour.

A concentrated source of carbs in the form of an energy gel can add to an isotonic beverage e.g. Science in Sport Energy Gel delivers 22g Carbs per sachet.


Australian Institute Of Sport, (2010). Fuelling your success, AIS Sports Nutrition. Retrieved 27th June, 2013, from http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/basics/carbohydrate__how_much taken from Burke et al. (2010).


About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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