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An insight to why carbohydrates are important in a weightlifters diet?

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Carbohydrates are the bodies energy and are in foods like pasta, dairy products, types of bread, fruits, and vegetables. An Olympic weightlifter's body processes these foods to make glucose, the body's primary energy source. Glucose is a type of energy that can be used right away as energy in the body or stored in fat stores to be used later by the body (Slater and Philips, 2011). Ensuring an Olympic weightlifter's diet has the correct amount of Carbohydrates requires many factors, whether the athlete wants to gain mass or cut weight to make it into a different weight group.

A diet plan allowing an athlete to gain mass would have a higher balance of all three macronutrients, if the athlete wants to gain lean mass, then the diet plan would be constructed with a high level of carbohydrates and proteins and a low level of fats, so lean mass can be adapted into the body. A diet plan encouraging strength athlete to maintain a moderate carbohydrate intake is necessary for the stored muscle glycogen levels to be replenished after a competition or training session.

Guidelines are proposing an intake within a range of 3 - 5 g per kg body weight for male strength athletes (Lambert & Flynn, 2002) and slightly less for female athletes. Evidence of strength athletes, i.e., Olympic weightlifters, benefit from maintaining a typically high carbohydrate intake among strength athletes, remains to be confirmed (Slater and Philips, 2011). Given the lower relative energy expenditure of larger athletes and their requirements for other nutrients, the impact of carbohydrate on total energy intake, recommendations for carbohydrate intake at certain times, before, during and after a training session, maybe more applicable for a strength athlete, ensuring carbohydrate availability is optimized at critical time points (Slater and Philips, 2011). A diet plan should consider a range of daily carbohydrate intakes between 4 and 7 g per kg body weight as a rationale for these athletes depending on their training phase.


Lambert, C.P. and Flynn, M.G. (2002). Fatigue during High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise. Sports Medicine, 32(8), p.511–522. Available at:

Slater, G. and Philips, S. (2011). Nutrition guidelines for strength sports: Sprinting, weightlifting, throwing events, and bodybuilding. Journal of Sports Sciences. Available at:

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