July 31, 2017
By request: I am going to change gears for a few weeks in order to address the issues of nutrition and exercise as this is the time of year when kids ramp up with sports. Far too often kids are eating poor quality nourishment and suffering the negative effects on conditioning.

Over the next few weeks, I will look at different macro nutrients, timing of ingestion and their effects on function.  


Carbohydrates and Exercise:


We know that one of the keys to enhanced exercise performance is proper nutrition. Modern professional athletes are figuring this out as the era of sports doping has been blown wide open. Many teams now employ nutritionists and chefs in order to meet the athletes needs and help their players excel.

What happens during exercise?  
When we exercise our muscles need to burn sugar as fuel to work effectively. Our muscles store sugar in the form of muscle glycogen. The concentration of glycogen in the muscle pre exercise will dictate how much energy can be released during a work out. This storage form of sugar is depleted in long and intense work outs. Unfortunately, we cannot transport this sugar from one muscle to another. Therefore, when you exercise you can only get sugar from each individual muscle or to a lesser extent from the liver. Thus, maximizing the muscles glycogen before exercise is a key to peak performance.

Our liver does store sugar as glycogen and can transfer this sugar anywhere, but it cannot store as much as a muscle can for exercise, making it ineffective as a serious source for athletes. When an athlete says that he hit "the wall", they are telling you that they ran out of muscle glycogen for an energy source and start to burn lean tissue to produce sugar which is very inefficient and counterproductive for muscle mass.

Carbohydrate loading pre exercise, post exercise and during exercise are all key.  

Today we will talk about post workout pre match loading:

Data shows that 2 days prior to an endurance event like a marathon, soccer game, long swim, etc.., if an athlete works out really hard and depletes the muscles sugar stores(glycogen) while withholding sugars from the diet, they can enhance the storage of glycogen post exercise by carb/sugar loading. Therefore, 2 days later during an event they have maximal muscle glycogen stores to compete with.

In other words: 2 days before big events an athlete should have a hard workout and not eat flour or sugar based foods. Eat nuts, seeds, vegetables, protein like organic soy or meat.  Then post workout eat whole grain pasta, brown rice, and other rapidly digesting carbohydrates.  The key is to get the meal within the first 2 hours post workout. 

Having a healthy life style bar immediately after the workout makes good sense to get the process started before a big meal. The data shows that high end sports supplements like Recoverite or other post workout drinks are as effective as a home cooked meal. However, I tend to think that a natural food meal is still preferable to a processed variety, because it also provides fiber and micro biome enhancing molecules that a drink cannot.  

If you do not get the meal in the first 1-2 hours post exercise, you have lost the ability to fill your muscles up with optimal sugar stores. 

The day in between the carb load and the race or game should be a rest or light workout day with a diet that is whole foods based. 

Remember that this is primarily for endurance athletes and not the weight lifter or golfer.  


Dr. M