Carbs are critical for optimal performance
Have you ever felt like you “hit the wall” while training or participating in a sport? This feeling is often due to your body running low on glycogen, the stored form of glucose in your liver and muscles. The only way to supply glucose to working muscles and replenish glycogen stores is by consuming carbohydrates. If glycogen is not sufficiently replenished, performance takes a nosedive. This is due to the body having a lower energy availability for subsequent exercise sessions. You wouldn’t expect your car to travel 200 miles on a quarter-tank of gas, would you?
When you fuel your body with carbs before a training session or competition, you increase your ability to sustain activity for longer durations at higher intensities. Likewise, when you consume the right form of carbohydrate, at the right time, in the right amount, you may notice a positive impact on performance. This is due to carbohydrates acting as an ergogenic aid, a substance or device that enhances energy production, use, and/or recovery. Would you be surprised to know carbs enhance all three? It’s true – they are that awesome.
Carbs can improve performance in other ways as well, such as supporting hydration and helping to build muscle. With every 1 gram of glycogen stored in the muscles, 3 grams of water is stored. This stored water aides in preventing muscle cramps and dehydration. As for muscle building, studies show that ingestion of protein and carbs after exercise enhances muscle protein synthesis, the process of muscle growth and repair. Very frequently, protein is overemphasized while carbs are overlooked as an important factor for muscle building. This is not to say protein is not crucial to building muscle, rather, that carbs are also important.