UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS AND UTILIZATION OF
CARBOHYDRATES DURING EXERCISE
When it comes to physical activity, carbohydrates are the dominant energy source. If you are involved in endurance exercise or long and intensive training, intake of carbohydrates will have a tremendous effect on your performance.
Carbohydrates are stored in small amounts in our body and can run empty 60 – 90 minutes during or after exercise. Ingesting carbohydrates before or during exercise will preserve the body stores of carbohydrates and utilize the carbohydrates ingested directly for energy. This will enhance exercise performance.
Did you know that, by just rinsing your mouth with a carbohydrate solution, your performance improves? This has been scientifically proven. The phenomenon is called: “Mouth Rinsing Effect.” It doesn’t provide real energy, but the feeling of more energy. This can be highly beneficial when on a low carbohydrate diet or when ingestion of carbohydrates is limited during exercise training or competition.
When carbohydrates are ingested, they are oxidized in your muscles as glucose. During exercise your body has a limit (ceiling) to oxidizing the amount of glucose which is ingested. Ingesting more carbohydrates will result in no extra benefits and might even cause gastrointestinal problems. The body absorption limits of carbohydrates (glucose) during exercise is 1.0 grams per minute or 60 grams per hour. Knowing this and utilizing it during exercise training or long endurance workout is crucial and beneficial for your performance.
However, there is a way scientifically proven in which you can exceed the 1.0 g/min limit. This can be done by consuming carbohydrates composed of glucose and fructose in a 2:1 ratio (60 g glucose and 30 g fructose), in multiple small ingestions. Ingesting this ratio will increase the body absorption limit to 1.5 grams per minute. This is crucial for endurance athletes and it is what they use to improve their performance during training and competition.
Carbohydrates Sources For when Exercising
- Drinks (100 g carbs per litre)
Carbohydrates (energy) drinks have the benefits of being quickly emptied in stomach, are directly available for oxidation, will provide fluid and additional nutrients. They are convenient.
Gels are highly concentrated and can be provided in sachets of 25 g carbs. The drawback of gels is slower emptying and delayed absorption.
Food is a very good source of carbohydrates, tastes nice and will provide other nutrients. However, other ingredients in food or types of food will affect the GI function, thereby, lowering the emptying of food in stomach and limiting absorption and availability.
Timing Carbohydrates Intake when/during Exercise
- If you are going to perform a long intense exercise (over 90 minutes), start consuming carbohydrates immediately. You can consume 90 g of carbs per hour, using the 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose.
- If you are going to exercise for 45 – 90 minutes, carbohydrates are less of a concern. You can consume a little to improve performance.
- If exercise is less than 45 minutes, carbohydrates are not necessary, you can use the “Mouth Rinsing Effect”, to give a feeling of more energy.
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