We often hear that in order to fuel workouts and races an athlete needs to carb load. And for good reason, carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source. However, this practice could be a threefold problem for bariathletes. For one, the word ‘load’ alone is not recommended for a small pouch. And when looking at the post-op macronutrient breakdown, protein is in the lead. Lastly, for those who have had the gastric bypass often can not tolerate carbohydrates because they induce dumping syndrome. So what is a bariathlete to do?
Although the body does prefer carbohydrates, loading per se may not be needed. More and more athletes are beginning follow a more balanced diet and continue to perform competitively. We recommend eating well throughout the day with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat at each meal.
First, take a look at the micronutrient density of your foods. Are you eating nutrient rich foods or are they many processed and stripped of its vitamins and minerals? Athletes often look past this because they tend to focus on calories and carbohydrates. Bariathletes also tend to forget about this but more due to thinking all their needs are covered in their vitamin and mineral supplements. The supplements cover your bariatric needs, but your nutrient needs increase when you start exercising. And no, we do not recommend taking more supplements to cover this, we recommend whole foods because your body is able to absorb and utilize these nutrients so much more efficiently from its natural sources.
Because a bariathlete can only eat so much at a given time it is important that meals and snacks do not have more than 4 hours between them. Eating frequently assures your fuel takes are full and can eliminate the need to ‘load’. The key a again is a mix of carbohydrates and protein to meet both your bariatric and athletic needs.
So remember, you are now an athlete and food is the fuel that allows you to live the new and exciting lifestyle you choose. Opt for more mixed meals while still maintaining adequate protein intake. Select more whole, fresh, nutrient rich foods to provide you with the vitamin and minerals you body needs to perform optimally. Good luck and have fun!