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Well here I am again and the topic this week is the macronutritate carbohydrate.  Do you know how important carborhydrates are for dancers and athletes? It is not just a major source of energy, but as a nutrient it plays a vital role. According to Zerlina Mastin (Mastin, 2009) carborhydrates are responsible for the following:

helps to burn fat when exercising
prevents the body from using protein from muscle
provides a host of B vitamins that boost metabolism
prevents fatigue and heavy, tired muscles
prevents injury caused by exhausted muscles and vulnerble joints, ligaments and bones.

So there you have it. Actually there is no better form of energy then the carborhydrate. It is the golden elixir for brain power and ultimate physical performance. Our bodies break it down rapidly and it becomes an immediate source of energy. However when taken alone it can lead to instant energy gratification followed by the unwelcomed energy crash. Our bodies can only fully reap the rewards of the carbohydrate when it is combined with a good balance of protein and healthy fats.

Carbohydrate with fat and protein

When used in combination, carbohydrate and fat give the body the maximum energy output. Fat can only be burnt in combination with carbohydrates or carbohydrates reserved in the body as glycogen. At the start of class or exercise our muscles depend primarily on carbohydrates. As energy levels increase the muscles will begin to use energy from carbohydrates and fat. The more intense we exercise the more efficient our bodily enzymes are at converting fat into energy.
Glycogen levels in the body need to be continuously replaced and if this does not occur our muscles search for an alternative source of energy, namely protein. If our glycogen levels tank we need to use three times more protein to produce energy resulting in a loss of muscle mass, something we don’t need.

This all sounds pretty straight forward, but the human body is a very complex machine that requires a great deal of nourishment if it is to function to its maximum. For those of us involved in dance and fitness or any kind of extreme sport, we now know that the body constantly needs refueling.

The next article will focus on carbohydrates and how to refuel the body in order to maintain maximum performance.

Check out this great recipe, it can be made with or without the ham. Enjoy!

Mastin, Z. (2009). Nutrition for the dancer. Alton, Hampshire [England]: Dance Books.