Healthy Carbohydrates – How To Source The Right Ones For Performance Training?

Are you ready to fuel your performance training with some healthy carbs? As a certified trainer with 9 years of experience in the fitness industry, I’m excited to share my expertise on this important topic. 

Carbohydrates play a vital role in providing the energy your body needs for those intense workouts and achieving optimal performance. 

In this blog post, I’ll guide you through a step-by-step journey of discovering the best sources of healthy carbs, backed by scientific research, to enhance your training and help you reach your fitness goals. 

Let’s dive in and unlock the power of healthy carbs for unstoppable performance.

For High-Intensity Performance, Carbohydrates Are Still King

In my experience as a certified trainer, when it comes to high-intensity performance, carbohydrates are still the reigning champions. Scientific research consistently supports the importance of carbohydrates as the primary fuel source for intense physical activities [1]. 

Carbs are quickly broken down into glucose, providing readily available energy to power your muscles during explosive movements and endurance exercises. 

They also replenish glycogen stores, which are essential for sustained performance. Opt for nutrient-dense carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to fuel your high-intensity workouts and maximize your performance potential. 

Remember, when it comes to reaching your peak performance, carbs are truly the kings of the fitness kingdom.

Slowly Absorbed Versus Rapidly Absorbed Carbohydrates

When it comes to choosing carbohydrates for performance training, the speed at which they are absorbed by the body plays a crucial role. In my experience as a certified trainer, understanding the difference between slowly absorbed and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates can help optimize your training results.

Slowly absorbed carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, and certain fruits, are rich in fiber and have a lower glycemic index (GI). This means that they are digested and absorbed more slowly, providing a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream [2]. 

This gradual energy release can sustain your performance over a longer duration, preventing energy crashes and promoting sustained endurance.

On the other hand, rapidly absorbed carbohydrates, such as white bread, sugary snacks, and sports drinks, have a higher GI and are quickly digested and absorbed by the body. They provide a rapid surge of glucose, leading to a quick burst of energy [3]. 

Rapidly absorbed carbs can be beneficial during intense workouts or when immediate energy is needed.

To optimize your performance, it’s important to strike a balance between the two. In my experience, combining slowly absorbed carbohydrates with a smaller amount of rapidly absorbed carbs before and during workouts can provide the best of both worlds. 

This approach ensures a sustained release of energy while also meeting immediate energy demands.

Remember, everyone’s carbohydrate needs may vary, so it’s essential to listen to your body and experiment to find the right balance of slowly and rapidly absorbed carbs that works best for you. 

Consult with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist to personalize your carbohydrate intake and enhance your performance training.

7 Healthy Carbs To Help You Boost Your Athletic Performance

Here are seven healthy carbs you should consider. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse, rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that the high fiber content of sweet potatoes aids in digestion and supports healthy blood sugar levels [4]. 

They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision and immune function.


Quinoa stands out as a complete protein and a great source of complex carbohydrates. According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, the high protein content in quinoa supports muscle repair and growth [5]. 

Its complex carbohydrate structure provides sustained energy release during exercise, enhancing endurance performance.


Oats are a staple in many athletes’ diets due to their fiber content and sustained energy release. A research article published in Nutrients highlighted that oats’ beta-glucan fiber contributes to improved satiety and stable blood sugar levels [6]. 

This can help athletes maintain energy levels and focus during workouts.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain that provides a steady supply of carbohydrates for prolonged physical activity. A study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology revealed that consuming brown rice as part of a balanced diet positively impacts endurance performance due to its nutrient content, including B vitamins and fiber [7].


Bananas are a go-to snack for athletes due to their quick energy release and high potassium content. A study published in PLOS ONE demonstrated that consuming bananas during exercise improved performance and reduced inflammation markers in athletes [8]. 

Their natural sugars and electrolytes make them an ideal choice for pre- and post-workout fuel.


Berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, are rich in antioxidants that support overall health and exercise recovery. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming berries improved exercise-induced inflammation and enhanced recovery [9]. 

Their natural sugars provide quick energy, while their high fiber content aids in digestion.

Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta offers sustained energy release due to its complex carbohydrate structure. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition revealed that consuming whole grain pasta before exercise enhanced endurance performance compared to refined pasta [10]. 

It provides a good source of energy while supplying B vitamins and fiber for optimal health.

Incorporating these healthy carbs into your diet can help fuel your athletic performance and support your overall well-being. Remember to consider your individual needs and consult with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist for personalized advice.

Final Thoughts

Fueling your body with healthy carbs is essential for optimal athletic performance. Incorporating nutrient-rich options like sweet potatoes, quinoa, oats, brown rice, bananas, berries, and whole grain pasta provides sustained energy and essential vitamins and minerals. 

Scientific research supports their benefits, from improving endurance to aiding digestion and promoting muscle repair. However, depending on individual needs, considering dietary supplements can complement your nutrition plan. 

You should also consider supplementing your macros with a mass gainer. These can deliver the precise amount of carbs and protein to help you get more out of your workouts and better tone your physique. 



Hi there, I’m Kate Young and I’m a fitness coach from California, but I now live in Austin. I have been involved in so many different sports over the years, including swimming, running, athletics, gymnastics, rugby (yeas, you read that right), baseball, tennis, and so many more that I have lost count.

I just love competing in sports, but struggled to find the one that I would stick with. So, instead I decided to become a fitness coach as it allows me to work with so many different types of athletes.

I’ve also become heavily involved it diet. The reason for this is that I’ve seen too many athletes fail in their fitness goals because their diet didn’t support it. And I’ve seen just as many people fail in their diets, because their fitness activities weren’t effective.

A lot of my work has involved working up with college tennis teams where I have tailored some endurance type fitness programs. Tennis coaches are great at teaching techniques, but a lot of them struggle with general fitness levels.

And that’s where I come in. On this site I contribute to anything tennis, fitness and diet related, which will help you get to your goals quicker and with more ease. And if you have some very specific questions then why not reach out on one of the social media channels where all of us are very active.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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