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What fuels an Olympian? UNI Professor weighs in

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) - Olympians will be taking the medal stand soon in Tokyo. In addition to training, part of what got athletes to Tokyo is what the athletes consumed.

When watching the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, viewers might not realize the needed nutrition to stay in top competition shape.

UNI Assistant Professor in Exercise Physiology, Dr. Terence Moriarty, describes nutrition as fuel.

"A carbohydrate is the main fuel like gasoline in a car, it's energy to the athlete," Dr. Moriarty said.

How many carbs does one athlete need?

Dr. Moriarty says it depends on how many calories the athlete burns.

"Based on duration is a big factor, but usually athletes will burn up to 6,000 calories per day," Moriarty said. "If we think about the Average Joe who takes in 2,000 calories, they are burning three times that amount."

Dr. Moriarty says consuming carbs should be a base for any nutrition training for athletes.

"In terms of performance if you're trying to perform at a high level with a high intensity you need carbohydrate or fat rather than other protein sources," Dr. Moriarty said.

Dr. Moriarty says leading up to the Olympic Games, many athletes will be resting or carb-loading a few days before the competition.

A reminder, starting Saturday, July 24, 2021, we will have Olympic coverage, both on-air and online, in our Olympic zone. The Olympic zone show will air Monday through Saturday at 6:30 p.m. throughout the Olympics.

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Vinny Lowerre

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