Thanksgiving Thoughts: Five Fabulous Carbohydrate Sources for MMA training, Part Two Aidan O'Connor November 27, 2014 News Welcome back. Following part one’s introduction to the role of carbohydrates in physical training, here are five energy sustaining, nutrient laden foods to keep your body loaded with premium carbohydrate fuel for the most intense MMA workouts. 1) Sweet Potatoes If there is one high-quality complex carb to feast on this Thanksgiving, it is the humble sweet potato. Four ounces of the sweet stuff provides an astounding 28 grams of carbohydrates. Combined with a low calorie count of 145 and rich quantities of Vitamin A, C, E and iron, this food is one of the most nutrient dense natural energy sources available and a notable ally for any athlete looking to limit cell damage and promote muscle recovery while competing in rigorous physical activities at extreme altitudes and temperatures. Beyond the festive period, sweet potato is a natural substitute for regular potato in a wide variety of meals. 2) Blueberries As a carbohydrate with simple and complex qualities, few foods come with more benefits than blueberries. A single cup of the blue fruit delivers 20 grams of boosting carbohydrates and four grams of fiber at the low cost of 80 calories. The natural sugars process quickly to provide the sudden burst often required midway through a workout. The blueberry also boasts valuable qualities as an antioxidant, immune booster and neutropenic. With an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) higher than any other fresh fruit, blueberries help to neutralize free radicals in the body before they can damage healthy cells. With a delicious yet subtle flavor to boot, blueberries make a tasty addition to cereals, salads, and smoothies, as well as being a tasty snack in their own right. 3) Rice Bran A foundation for any conscious diet, rice bran is a healthy alternative to the refined ingredients found in processed foods like white bread. Just two tablespoons of rice provide five grams of complex carbohydrate, making it an ideal component of any pre-exercise meal tailored to slower energy release. Its high fiber content, one gram per tablespoon, also promotes an active digestive system to combat the constipation and lethargy associated with processed food that hinders physical performance and weight maintenance. Additional benefits of rice bran include a high magnesium content – 12% of the recommended daily amount per tablespoon. As a nutrient, magnesium not strengthens bones, it also optimizes energy consumption during physical exercise by improving the conversion of glycogen stores to glucose for energy. A 2002 study revealed that volunteers with low magnesium levels used more oxygen during physical activity, and their heart rates increased by about 10 beats per minute.” Try incorporating rice bran into future bread and muffin recipes, or sprinkle it over cereal, salad or yogurt as a breakfast supplement. 4) Fresh Figs Ironically named the common fig, this plant is loaded with an exceptional quantity of nutrients. Providing B vitamins, calcium and potassium to benefit peak muscle function and bone health, figs also are a great source of soluble fiber, which not only provides energy but also lowers cholesterol to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. As a source of carbohydrates, a single fig also provides 10 grams of good carbohydrates, primarily as natural sugars, for quick and easy energy replenishment. When combined with a sensible portion of low-fat ricotta cheese or natural yogurt, the common fig makes an excellent post-workout snack. 5) Whole Wheat Pasta For any meal designed to tactically load up on carbohydrates, whole wheat pasta provides many qualities that its refined white pasta counterpart lacks, allowing for a positive glycemic response. Two ounces of cooked whole wheat pasta provide up to 40 grams of carbohydrate body fuel, as well as five grams of mostly insoluble dietary fiber to promote an active digestive tract and a satiated feeling. Whole wheat pasta is also a decent source of protein, five grams per two cooked ounces, allowing athletes to replenish their protein stores and encourage muscle recovery after strenuous training. As the staple of a hearty meal, whole wheat pasta is a filling accompaniment to an extra protein source, like chicken breast or sirloin, and vegetables. That rounds off the list of five fabulous carbohydrate sources for MMA training. Until December 5, when the world of MMA brings us three new events, have a Happy Thanksgiving.