Dr. Phil Maffetone 15: Why Refined Carbs and Sugars Are Harmful to Athletes, Dispelling More Nutrition Myths, And the New ‘Sleep Low’ Study

April 7, 2016


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On this show with Dr. Phil Maffetone, we discuss the top reasons why refined carbs and sugars are so bad for athletes. You often hear how refined carbs and sugar are bad for non-athletes, sedentary populations and in clinical cases (chronic disease, obesity, diabetes, etc), but what about hard-training athletes? We’re taught that endurance athletes need carbs and sugar to fuel, but is this really the case? Or are these “junk” foods just as dangerous for active populations and endurance athletes.

Clarifying common questions:

1. If athletes are usually more insulin sensitive shouldn’t carbs be ok?
2. Do carbs still have a detrimental effect when used during training or racing? Or is it ok because they go straight to working muscle? What does the science say?
3. If refined carbs and sugars are bad, but “no carb” or “very low carb” diets are also risky, what kind of carbs and how many per day are good for athletes?
4. What constitutes a bad vs. good carb?

Top reasons to avoid “bad” carbs:

  1. Anti-nutrients – blocks nutrient absorption
  2. Inflammation
  3. Insulin issues
  4. It’s junk – no nutritional value, empty calories, often fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals
  5. Body composition
  6. Gluten – intolerance even in absence of celiac disease
  7. Gut issues
  8. Leptin & Insulin issues
  9. Energy fluctuations – blood sugar spikes, drops, vicious cycle.

Take Action:

  1. What to eat before a workout, some “acceptable” ideas including safe carbs.
  2. Find your carb grams per day

‘Sleep Low’ Study

Finally, we discuss a recent article in the NY Times and the research study being highlighted: For Serious Training Hold The Carbs At Dinnertime

Enhanced Endurance Performance by Periodization of Carbohydrate Intake: “Sleep Low” Strategy

One Comment

  • shanelivingston says:

    I truly appreciated the candor and honesty of Dr. Phil Maffetone in this episode. I am still on the fence of what to do for me personally, but as an age-grouper this podcast has been right up my alley as I prepare for my second 70.3 Ironman in St. George, Utah. Please keep it up. Thanks!

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