Carbohydrate Requirements for Exercise


A high carbohydrate diet may be necessary for some training schedules.  This article is intended to explain how your body uses energy, where that energy comes from, and the amount of carbohydrates needed to fully recover.  

Primary Energy Systems

Your body has three primary energy systems:  ATP-CP, Glycolytic, and Oxidative.  

The chart above illustrates that the  ATP-CP energy system is used at high intensities for a short period of time, the Glycolytic energy system is used for moderate intensities for a moderate period of time, and the Oxidative energy system is used for low intensities for a long period of time.

These systems work together, meaning that no one system is working independently.  A few examples of exercises for each energy system include, a 100-meter sprint (ATP-CP), a 400-meter dash (Glycolytic), and a long distance run (Oxidative).

Glucose plays a very valuable role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  The production of ATP is beyond the scope of this article so we will focus instead on the replenishment of glycogen after exercise.

Glycogen is glucose stored within the cell walls of muscle.  Glycogen is used as fuel during exercise and therefore depleted after exercise.  Full replenishment of glycogen can take around 24 hours therefore it is important to include carbohydrates in your diet after you exercise especially if your next training session is within that 24 hour time frame.

Carbohydrate Requirements in Various Diet Plans

These recommendations may need to be adjusted based on individual goals, bodyweight, total kcals needed, and training volume and intensity.  Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose.  An abundance of glucose will be stored as glycogen and later adipose tissue (fat).

High Carbohydrate Diet


When examining your diet, it is important to consider your goals, overall time training, and intensity of physical activity.  A high carbohydrate diet may be ideal for energy requirements needed to complete and fully recovery from exercise.  

Shane JenneComment