Monday, May 31, 2010

Glycogen and Fitness

Glycogen and Fitness

When considering a fitness program, for some, it is very important to understand how gluclose affects and supplies our bodies with necessary fuels for us to recieve the maximum benefits from our dieting and fitness programs.

To be physically fit you need to develop enough flexibililty and muscle strength along with muscle and cardio-respiratory endurance to allow us to meet the demands of life with energy left to spare. This energy (fuels) that support physical activity are derived from glucose (from carbohydrates), fats (from fatty acids) and in a limited capacity, amino acids from proteins. While resting, our bodies depend on fatty acids to provide us with over half of the energy it needs.

Glucose is stored in our liver and kidneys as glycogen. Our glycogen supplies are limited which is why the fatty acids are vitally important. Our muscles can only store up to 2000 kcalories as glycogen while fat can contain up to 70,000 kcalories of energy, so when our physical activity is strenuous, especially for endurance athletes, the glycogen stores can get depleted rather rapidly, and once depleted our bodies depend on the fat and fatty acids to provide our muscles with the necessary glucose it needs.

The rate at which glycogen stores are used depends on two things: the duration of the exercise and the intensity of the exercise. As a general rule, people that work out for more than 45 minutes should pay attention to the amount of glycogen it stores and generally for those that exercise moderately or under 45 mins a good, sound diet is usually sufficient to maintain our glycogen storage. This is why it is often recommended for endurance athletes to consume at least 50-100 grams of carbohydrate immediately following a workout or other strenuous activity.

As stated by, all carbs are not created equal. I could not agree with this more and in order to develop the glycemic index it is important to consume smart carbohydrates that offer a high glycemic index. offers some good advice on the glycemic index and offers several lists on high versus low glycemic index foods depending on your overall goal of your fitness program.

Some foods that contain a high glycemic index include potatoes, short grain rice, white bread, pancakes/waffles, cornflakes and watermelon. With that being said, one of the best choices when involved in a fitness program is to choose a high carbohydrate diet, but keeping in mind that not all carbs are created equal. If you are going to research carbohydrates that may be beneficial to your fitness program I recommend that you look for carbohydrates that are listed as "high-impact carbs", there are several good sources on the internet that cover this subject, being a very good one.

Many athletes use a method called "Carb Loading" before an event. Basically, carb loading can nearly double the muscle carbohydrate concentration. The athlete will taper off training 7 days before the event and carb load three days prior to the event going from consuming 5 grams per weight pound to 10 grams per pound.

In speaking with Robin, she recommends that her clients pump up on high glycemic carbs to build up the glycogen levels before, during and after working out.

If this subject or anything contained within concerns you please send me an email and I can attempt to answer any questions that you have, and as I always say, please keep in mind that I am not a dietician, nutritionist or have a medical background, I am just your happy little buddy that happens to know a little bit about food and dieting....
Peace, Hugs and Cookies,

Chef Mike

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