Elite endurance athletes select high-quality carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains and fruit as the centerpiece of most meals and snacks. As you probably would expect, there is a great deal of diversity in the specific foods that professional racers from different cultures rely on to meet their carbohydrate needs. Ethiopian runners eat a lot more teff than Chilean mountain bikers, who eat a lot more potatoes than Chinese swimmers, who eat a lot more rice than Danish cross-country skiers. But all of these foods are rich in carbohydrates, and all of these athletes maintain carb-centered diets.
Overall, carbohydrates account for 60 to 80 percent of total calories in the diet of the typical elite endurance athlete. As the primary fuel for intense exercise, carbs enable these athletes to absorb their workouts with less physiological stress and to extract more benefits from their training.
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