It is not an unjustifiable human motivation to get a sporty build by doing sport. We are no exception to that. I would like to share one of our secrets that help us acheive our goals with lasting result.
A quotation from the internet:
“After running, make up for the lost energy – as fast as you can. Researches have proven that muscles are the most prepared to rebuild glycogen stores for 30 minutes following workout. The sooner you eat the better chances you have to avoid muscle stiffness. Pay attention to consuming three grams of carbohydrates with every gram of protein taken.”
Excellent observation, perfect description of a physiological phenomenon – false conclusion and suggestion.
We do the exact opposite of the recommendations based on indisputable research results. This very contradictory action guarantees the lasting sporty figure for us and the high-capacity glycogen stores needed for the completion of long distance triathlon and running races.
What is unquestionable is that muscles are indeed the most prepared to rebuild glycogen stores for 30 minutes following workout. Carbohydrate, one of the most important energy source for our body, can only be stored -in the form of glycogen- in a limited amount. Carbohydrate consumption during workout is percieved by our body as a severe “shock”, an emergency for the energy generating system. Our brain cells utilize glycose, the simplest carbohydrate, but the burning of fat, the almost infinite energy source for our muscle, cannot take place without carbohydrates because “fat is burnt in a carbohydrate fire.” Replenishing the carbohydrate (glycogen) stores of our body is the highest level priority.
What happens if we, contrary to the quoted recommendation, do not consume carbohydrate after workout?
I would not touch the envisioned muscle stiffness now, in my opinion regular muscle realxation, stretching, and balanced replenishment of minerals and fluid shows a closer correlation with muscle stiffness than carbohydrate intake. What happens when we do not feed our muscles with carbohydrates “orally” right after workout?
“Wonders are many, yet of all things is Man the most wonderful” -Sophocles wrote in Antigone. How true this quotation is in our case as well. Our muscles do the job without our help on their own: they tackle the emergency by making up for the consumed glycogen – using fat. They transform no small amount of the content of our fat stores, triglycerides, into carbohydrates. And if we regularly deny the help from them after workout, especially in the first half an hour following the training, then they will significantly increase the capacity of our carbohydrate stores – as a preparation for regular challenges. For some time after workout, our body will engage in producing carbohydrate to replenish this growing capacity, and not in storing fat. If we make ’things’ worse by regularly building high intensity phases in our training program, when the primary energy source for muscular activity is carbohydrate, then the replenishemnt of the glycogen stores might even take two days. During that time, our glycogen stores are filling up beside increased oxygen intake and energy use: our body is adapting to the physical exercise and even if we do not work out, we still get trained- and lose weight by the way. The increased oxygen intake can be very well measured and this undisputable physiological phenomenon has been named as EPOC ’excess post-exercise consumption’ in the literature.
Even though our muscles are craving for carbohydrate immeditely after physical activity, our body will not be mildly depressed even if after the workout we do not gobble up the content of our larder and immediately replenish the carbohydrates used during physical activity. Without our help, our poor body does what it can do the best and has been doing for hundreds and thousands of years: adapts. It handles the emergency of carbohydrate loss by transforming fat into glycogen. The filling up of carbohydrate stores requires energy and oxygen and lasts for even two days. During this period, we lose weight and get trained because our body is preparing for the next scuffle (workout) by expanding the capacity of our carbohydrate stores. The first half an hour after workout especially is the period when we can make our muscles get used to this ’after-burner’ mode by carbohydrate deprivation. The side effect of increasing the capacity of carbohydrate stores is decreasing the capacity of fat stores – as we signal our body to store carbohydrate and not fat. If we ’push the carbohydrate button’ from time to time, and wait after workout in addition to including high intensity phases into our training program, as a serious and lasting side effect, we will have an extremely sporty body .
However, we must not forget about two, not exactly marginal, facts either. The magical fat killer process described above is catalyzed and controlled by enzymes. Enzymes are proteins made up of amino acids. Our body builds proteins essential for sustaining vital functions from amino acids. It stores amino acids in a ‘pool’ (amino acid pool), picks the necessary building blocks and puts together the complex protein which is the most suitable for the given task. For this reason, it is very important that the pool have sufficient amount and quality of amino acids. This can be achieved by balanced, varied, conscious nutrition without extremes. You should not go overboard with proteins either, but you should regularly eat good quality food consisting of nutriments familiar to Central Europeans. The daily protein requirement for an average adult person is 1 gram/body weight kilogram. This amount might increase to 1.2-1.5 grams for endurance athletes. The replenishment of amino acid stores should be taken care of before workout rather than immediately after it. On i-am.hu web page you can find a presentation on proteins, the ‘working class’ most responsible for the ‘professional’ operation of the human body.
During and after workout we can skip carbohydrates, proteins and mostly fat, but what we absolutely cannot is water and minerals. 50-60% of the human body consists of water. Water is the medium where most of our vital processes can take place. Ions (Na+; K+; Mg++) play an especially important role in maintaining and controlling processes. To replenish them during and after workout is our task because our body cannot provide these elements at all or just in way that significantly spoils our perfomance.
Be generous with water and minerals, portion proteins (amino acids) wisely and evenly and share the burden of carbohydrate supply with your body.
Trying to avoid carbohydrate intake not only after but also during workout will intensify the signal to our body that it needs to tackle the carbohydrate issue on its own. (CH depletion/Lean fuelling training in Enduraid) And it does perfectly! During resting time, it expends the capacity of limited glycogen stores astonishingly: in the liver the growth is one and a half times, and in the muscles twice as the original. It gives a significant comparative advantage during long distance races as – due to osmotic limitations -we need to replenish much less of carbohydrates that are difficult to be consumed. During races you can “binge” sensibly, which your well-prepared body will appreciate by providing high level performance.
The special carbohydrate stop during and after workout does not last for days. The well-balanced conscious nutrition based on Central European traditions means the consumption of some, so called, energy providing nutrients (fat, carbohdyrate, protein), minerals, trace elements, vitamins and water in a quantity that harmonizes with your lifestyle. There are no demons or magic formulas among food. Only quantities that disharmonize with lifestyle. Man is a miracle! If we get to know ourselves, the way we function, we can more easily engage in a long lasting and happy friendship with our own body.
Health would be an unachievable goal withour regular physical activity, sport in on word. By understanding the functions of our body, we can facilitate health maintenance and the achievements of goals we set during sport.