In order to conserve our natural resources and use our natural resources efficiently it is important not only to preserve those assets but be smart in their use. For example, carpooling with other individuals who are traveling to the same destination will help use our limited resources wisely as well as displaying our ability to be good stewards of the environment and being sensible by traveling to the same destination with others who are making that trip part of their plan.
Therefore, energy conservation is not only about conserving energy, but maximizing energy savings opportunities to not only limit our consumption of energy, but not using energy where it is not needed.The premise of the conservation of energy is also a reality when it comes to the athlete who is exercising and using energy to achieve their healthy goals.
Consequently, it’s important to look at the athlete’s training schedule and make sure that they maximize the energy that is being expended and utilizing the resources beneficially to obtain their goal. Therefore a brief study on the use of carbohydrates and the effects on blood glucose level, insulin, fat storage and the relationship between carbohydrate intake around training time and nutrient delivery to the cells are important to maximize energy consumed.
The Use of Carbohydrates and Effect on Blood Glucose Level
Carbohydrates are to the body as oil is to the internal combustion engine.
With further refinement, the carbohydrates are made available for fuel within the body as is oil, with further refinement, processed into gasoline. The individual consumes carbohydrates by ingesting food. Carbohydrates are in foods such as vegetables, fruit, cereals, milk, bread and other grains. Additionally, there are foods such as cakes, cookies, soda, etc. that contain sugars which are also a source of carbohydrates.
It is important to note that there are “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” The difference between good and bad carbs is the nutritional makeup of those carbs. For example, sodas can be labeled as “bad carbs” because they have no nutritional value, but, for the most part, simply contain sugar. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables can be labeled as “good carbs” because they not only provide carbohydrates, but other nutrients as well. Some of those other nutrients could include a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber. In addition, “good carbs” are more complex and require a longer process in the body to break down the food item into glucose.
Glucose is the fuel which energizes every part of the human body. It is a simple sugar and is the major fuel source. This simple sugar for fuel is created by the body’s ability to digest the carbohydrates chemically so that the body can burn this fuel source for energy. Additionally, there is a corresponding effect of carbohydrates on the blood glucose level. The first major effect of carbohydrates on the blood glucose level is to elevate that level. This is known as the glycemic index. This index is measured on a scale from 0 to 100. Consequently, the simpler the carbohydrates eaten by the individual, the easier will be the process of breaking down the carbohydrates into glucose which in turn elevates the glycemic index.
The important fact in regards to the glycemic index is not to have a significant spike in this index or maintain an index that is low. It is important that the glycemic index remains at a constant level both in normal day-to-day operations and when exercising. Correspondingly, if the glycemic index drops then the individual becomes lethargic and experiences the pangs of hunger because the individual’s body is signaling its need for energy. On the other hand, if the glycemic index spikes too high then insulin is secreted by the pancreas. When this occurs the insulin breaks the glucose down into fat. Fat is stored in the body.
As an aside, diabetes can develop in the individual when levels of glucose in the bloodstream become out of control.
Insulin and Fat Storage
Part of the chemical processing includes insulin. Insulin is a product produced by the pancreas.
If blood glucose indexes rise significantly then the pancreas, in response, generates excessive insulin which then causes the blood glucose to fall below levels that are normal. The reality is when high glycemic index meals are eaten there is an associated significant rise in blood glucose. This temporarily results in greater energy, but after a period of time the individual becomes lethargic as the blood glucose dips below levels that are considered normal.
Insulin interacts with many cells of the human body. In particular, insulin corresponds with the cells of the liver, fat tissue and muscle. Being a hormone created from the pancreas, its primary function are the effects on the metabolism of glucose and the performance within the body to maintain the blood sugar level. Insulin also interacts with the fat of the body. In particular, it enables fat storage and the synthesis of fat. Additionally, even though the body may be experiencing insulin deficiency, which in turn increases the metabolism of fat within the body, this can be a detriment. Specifically, a deficiency of insulin can lead to conditions known as atherosclerosis, ketoacidosis and possibly death in diabetic individuals.
The purpose of insulin is to communicate with the cells regarding the following actions. Those instructions include the command to absorb, stop breaking down or start building. All of these instructions are in relationship to glucose amino acids and fatty acids.
Relationship between Carbohydrate Intake Around Training Time
The relationship between the training sessions and intake of carbohydrates is a critical dynamic.
This is because carbohydrates provide fuel for the athlete’s exercise regimen. This relationship is extremely vital when the exercise program is defined as very intense. In regards to a reserve of energy held within the body, glycogen, this is stored in the muscles and liver. This is a reserve energy source; however, the ability of the human body to hold large quantities of glycogen is limited. Consequently, if the athlete does not have the necessary energy, carbohydrates, to perform their routine, they will experience significant fatigue. This will cause their routine to suffer and may cause injury to the athlete through poor performance. Therefore, it is important for the athlete to understand the relationship between carbohydrate intake around their training time and to ensure that enough energy is supplied to the body to maximize their efforts.
Additionally, the intake of carbohydrates should match the individual’s regimen. Other specifics on the amount of carbohydrates to ingest should be based on the intensity of the activity to be performed, the length of the activity and frequency. Carbohydrate intake around training time is of paramount importance. First of all, the eating of carbohydrates prior to one’s exercise regimen will help to elevate the blood glucose levels so that the maximum energy level can be obtained to experience a good workout. In addition, increased levels of glycogen will be attained and stored in the muscle and liver for future use. Also, in addition to ingesting carbohydrates prior to the exercise regimen, it is important to address the energy needs following the training session. This can be accomplished by taking in carbohydrates following the workout.
Following a strenuous exercise routine or athletic activity, the body will let you know that it has depleted its energy resources. Some of those symptoms include shakiness, an increase in the appetite, need for extra sleep and soreness of the muscle. That soreness can be either mild or can be significant. This is the body’s way of communicating to the individual that the muscles are in need of repair and of being replenished. This process and communication by the body is a good thing because this is what the bodybuilder and athlete wanted to accomplish. This communication is that the exercise or activity just accomplished did have a significant effect on the body and probably achieved the results that the individual was looking to achieve.
In bodybuilding, This process is known as remodeling. It involves the small rupturing of the muscles which is the optimum result. Following the exercise routine, then the healing of those small ruptures is accomplished by providing carbohydrates and protein to repair the muscles and thus, through this process, adds to the muscle mass that the bodybuilder is hoping to achieve.
Also involved in this process is the immune system. Specifically, the immune system is activated because of the stress hormone being released and because of the free radicals released during the process. Additionally, there are four components to address following a rigorous workout. Those four areas of concern are to restore lost fluids and replace electrolytes, replenish the reserve energy, glycogen, address a reduction in reducing immune and muscle stress and ingest protein to rebuild the muscles. Therefore, the individual needs to ingest carbohydrates following a workout. This is important because it allows the body to recover from the workout. This recovery involves the repair of the muscles while restoring the energy levels of through the production of glycogen. This reserve energy is resupplied by creating energy through the production of glucose.
The process that the body follows following a strenuous exercise workout routine is with the secretion of a hormone called cortisol. This particular hormone is known as the body’s stress hormone, and its effect is catabolic in nature. This hormone digests the body’s muscle tissue for protein and converts it into glucose. This process is known as gluconeogenesis. This in turn creates glucose from amino acids that are found in the liver. Ultimately the net result of this bodily function is the loss of muscle tissue. Therefore, this undesired effect can be countered by eating carbohydrates following the workout. This will then allow for the body to convert the carbohydrates into glucose.
Alternatively, it is important for the individual to not consume as many carbohydrates on their non-workout days as they ordinarily would do on their workout days.
Nutrient Delivery to the Cells
In order to ensure that the proper levels of carbohydrates are available to provide energy for the planned activity, there are proposed consumption tables formulated by a number of trainers and other professionals.
For example, the nutrient delivery to the cells for a low demanding workout or session could range anywhere from 3 to 5 grams per kilogram of body mass. It is suggested that a moderate exercise program provide a nutrient delivery to the cells of anywhere from 5 to 7 grams per kilogram of body weight. On the other end of the spectrum, a high or very intense program or commitment to an exercise session should provide a nutrient delivery to the cells ranging anywhere from 6 to 12 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Also, to enhance the delivery of nutrition to the cells, it is important to utilize foods that would be defined as good sources of carbohydrates. Foods that would be qualified as having a large quantity of carbohydrates to be delivered to the athlete would be foods that are excellent sources of protein, minerals, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Examples of these types of food would include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy products that are low-fat and cereals.
Those foods that would be classified as containing poor carbohydrates would be those foods that are replete with carbohydrates but contain no other nutrients. Examples of these types of foods would include soft and energy drinks, candies, etc. It is recommended that the athlete not consume a large quantity of these products but may occasionally indulge. Other foods that are high in carbohydrates but also are rich in fat are foods that the athlete should stay away from when thinking about carbohydrates in conjunction with their training sessions. Examples of these types of food include chocolate, cakes, pastries, etc.