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The Science of Carbohydrate Loading
The effective relationship between hypoglycemia, fatigue and premature termination of exercise is firmly established and therefore carbohydrate intake is a proven form of strengthening endurance running in long-term activities lasting one hour. more than two. Although there are various methods of carb loading, the general process is to eat large amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods to saturate the body’s carbohydrate stores. It is suggested that with these increased energy stores, competitors can avoid exercise-induced hypoglycemia and continue exercising longer than this saturation phase did not occur. This article aims to further explain how carbohydrate loading occurs and why it occurs.
As previously mentioned in another article on this site, the human body can store carbohydrates for energy use in the liver and muscles in the form of a substance called glycogen. This storehouse of carbohydrates is basically “starch” for humans and can be broken down quickly to fuel muscles during intense exercise (muscle glycogen) and maintain blood glucose levels. (liver glycogen). In a carbohydrate-free state, an untrained person eating an average diet (45% carbs) can store about 100 grams of glycogen in the liver, while muscle can store about 280 grams. . Also remember that muscle glycogen is meant to be used by the muscles and cannot help maintain blood sugar levels. Therefore, if no additional carbohydrates are consumed during prolonged exercise, the task of maintaining blood glucose levels is strongly dependent on glycogen storage in the liver and gluconeogenesis (production of glucose from of plasma amino acids). The oxidation of glucose in the blood at 70-80% VO2 max is about 1.0 g/min or 60 g/hour. Therefore, it can be predicted that even with full glycogen stores, the liver of a less conditioned athlete will be depleted of carbohydrates within one hour and three quarters of continuous exercise. (Interestingly, the daily carbohydrate demands of the brain and nervous system alone are sufficient to deplete liver glycogen stores within 24 hours.) Once liver glycogen levels begin to decline and exercise continues the body becomes hypoglycemic (low sugar) mainly because the blood Glucose is used up faster than replacing gluconeogenesis. Professor Tim Noakes (see profile) considers liver glycogen depletion and subsequent hypoglycemia to be the primary factor affecting fatigue and performance during long runs and particularly in situations where muscle glycogen levels are also low.
The amount of extra carbohydrates that can be stored in the body depends on the level of nutrition and discipline of the athlete. For an untrained person eating a high-carbohydrate diet (75%), glycogen stores can increase to 130 g and 360 g for liver and muscle respectively for a storage of 490 g. For a daily training athlete who eats a normal diet (45% carbohydrates), the level of glycogen is about 55 g and 280 g for the liver and muscles that produce a total of 330 g. However, if the same athlete eats a high-carb diet (75% carbohydrates), his total fat stores may increase to 880 g with approximately 160 g stored in the liver and 720 g stored in the liver. in the muscles. It is clear that the muscles of conditioned athletes are more efficient at storing carbohydrates than those of their unconditioned counterparts. By filling the muscles with high carbohydrate intake, the athlete increases their time to hypoglycemic fatigue exponentially.
Several methods of carbohydrate supplementation have been described in the literature. The most common method is the traditional “glycogen depletion” or carbohydrate loading/carbohydrate loading method. This method basically involves the athlete exercising until exhaustion on the sixth day before a major competition and for the next three days eating a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet (less than 10% of total energy). On the third day, the athlete trains again to exhaustion, but for the next three days, they eat a high-carbohydrate diet (90%). The goal of this method is to severely destroy the body’s glycogen reserves in order to produce a “super compensation” effect on the sale of carbohydrates. Research has shown, however, that this glycogen depletion process may not actually be necessary to achieve optimal carbohydrate intake in well-trained individuals and that this compensatory effect may not even occur. Studies have shown that athletes who only eat a high carbohydrate diet (75%) for three days before the competition have a comparable carbohydrate metabolism to those who do glycogen depletion. In addition, the amount of training done before starting the traditional regime has little effect on the resulting carbohydrate stores. Therefore, a well-conditioned athlete may need to do little more than eat a lot of carbohydrates in the three days before competition to get the full benefit.
Optimal carbohydrate intake can be achieved if approximately 600g of carbohydrates are consumed per day for two to three days. It probably doesn’t matter much whether the added carbohydrates are consumed as simple carbohydrates (glucose) or complex carbohydrates (stones). Most carbohydrates are quickly digested and enter the bloodstream through the intestines in the same way as ingested glucose. The filling rate is higher immediately after exercise due to increased insulin sensitivity. The dosage should be about 50 to 80g starting immediately after the 2-hour repeated exercise and continuing for the first 6 hours. Full glycogen replenishment is usually achieved within 20 hours using this method; However, the fastest glycogen resynthesis is observed when glucose is injected directly into the bloodstream, resulting in a maximum glycogen concentration of about 800g (assuming 20 kg of muscle) in About 8 hours. Full replenishment of glycogen after prolonged exposure may take several days due to muscle damage caused by repeated cycles of concentric and eccentric contractions.
Along with the benefits associated with carbohydrate loading, it may be helpful to mention some of the potential drawbacks of following this method. First, glycogen storage is related to water storage. It is estimated that each gram of stored glycogen is associated with approximately 2.7 grams of water. Therefore, a well-conditioned athlete with a glycogen store that is close to 800g will see his body weight about 2kg at the start of the race. This increase in body weight will affect economy and performance, at least at the beginning of the movement when energy reserves will be high. As muscles and other organs gradually turn over glycogen stores during exercise, stored water is released back into the body. This can complicate the athlete’s fluid requirements, requiring them to eat less than competitors without carbohydrates. The best advice on fluid replacement during prolonged exercise can be found on this website (see
How much should I drink? [http://www.bossfitness.com/archive-nutrition.asp]) and in Lore of Running. A possible solution to water retention and weight gain is to have the athlete enter at a lower level and consume a carbohydrate/electrolyte drink during exercise to help maintain glucose levels. blood and electrolyte balance (carbohydrate consumption during an activity in a loaded state is excessive. and does not bring additional benefits). Another disadvantage of carbohydrate loading is poor stomach/intestinal disturbances. The amount of carbohydrate consumed can affect the osmolarity of the intestine. In other words, the carbohydrates (especially simple/processed sugars) in the intestine draw water into the intestine by osmosis which affects the water balance and can cause diarrhea and vomiting. As mentioned, an athlete should aim to eat 600g per day, preferably in multiple meals / sittings to avoid reducing the body’s ability to digest food.
In conclusion, this article has shown the many benefits associated with carbohydrate supplementation. This process should be considered an effective and simple way to improve performance and endurance during long-term exercise activities. Increasing the body’s carbohydrate stores before competition provides enough energy to avoid hypoglycemic-related fatigue and early termination of exercise. A high carbohydrate intake three days prior to competition may be sufficient for most athletes, but it is important to follow the deloading process carefully to avoid intestinal upset. Exercise science is still exploring the importance and contribution of the two sources of glycogen stores in performance and further research is expected to shed more light on the relationship. related to fatigue.
References and further reading: more information on carbohydrate loading and a detailed explanation of the contribution of carbohydrates during exercise can be found in the Lore of Running – a standard book in the fourth edition dedicated to not only for running performance, but also for ultimate sports physics.
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