Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, and they give us instant energy. When you train or work hard this energy is quickly depleted. It takes about 2 hours for a trained athlete to deplete the carbohydrate stores. Children and athletes metabolize carbohydrates faster and need a higher intake of them.
The carbohydrates are divided into different classes based on their structure:
Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include dextrose, corn sugar, fructose and galactose. Some of the food containing these sugars are honey, fruit sugars and syrup.
Two or more sugars are called oligosaccharides and include sucrose, lactose and maltose. Some of the products containing these are table sugar, beets and maple sugar.
Complex carbohydrates are called polysaccharides and they can be found in the starches from beans, whole grains, chick peas, corn, leafy vegetables, noodles, potatoes and whole grain cereals. Fibers are also a complex carbohydrate but do not provide any energy but are important for the digestive health.
How do we use carbohydrates?
They are digested by the stomach and the small intestines and then transported to the liver. Several of the carbohydrates will be use immediately as energy and some will the stored as glycogen in the tissues and the liver. There are also some that will be converted into fatty acids and stored as triglycerides in fat tissue. A smaller amount of them are changed into other carbohydrates and some will become the carbon skeleton used for the production of non-essential amino acids.
When you are active and eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates there is normally no need to be concerned about the carbohydrates being stored as fat. Since they are used up as energy. It is when you live a sedentary lifestyle, and your diet is based on simple carbohydrates as the ones in processed food, that you need to worry about them being stored as fat.
Processed food like white bread and soft drinks made of refined carbohydrates such as flour and white sugar has no nutritional value to the body.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates has a devastating effect on the overall health. First of all it can cause overloads in blood glucose and a possibly deficiency of vitamin B1. It can also tax the pancreas, and cause the adrenals to work overtime to try to normalize the blood sugar level. So a diet high in refined carbohydrates can lead to diabetes and adrenal exhaustion.
Adrenal exhaustion is commonly brought on by the combination of regular training, stress and excess refined carbohydrates in the diet.
A diet high in simple sugars
The body will only use the simple sugars it needs for energy and deposits the rest as fat and cholesterol. These deposits can be in the heart, liver, kidneys, ateries and muscles. This can lead to tumors, obesity, diabetes, liver and kidney disease and atherosclerosis. The fats will also decrease the oxygen level in the tissues and slow down the body’s own metabolism. That means the fat will accumulate faster and it will seem like your exercise is not getting you anywhere.
Heavy exercise depletes the muscles of glycogen. According to research, an athlete who train three or more hours a day, never have a full tank because the demand they put on their body.
Once exercise begins and you drink energy drinks the solution should be 5-10 % carbohydrates to be effective. It is best to drink one 8 oz glass every fifteen minutes so you don’t tax the system and will maintain a stable level of blood sugar level.
After the exercise it is important to replenish the glycogen stores and at this time simple sugars can be taken. If you have a regular exercise you can use fresh fruits after.
A good after work out shake we use in our family is made of:
Whey Isolate Powder
Fresh fruit, (it varies but I always put in a banana as a sweetener)
We also add appropriate supplements needed, where glutamine is one of them.
For optimum glycogen storage it is best to eat complex carbohydrates throughout the day in small meals. Use the complex carbohydrates for the slower digestion.
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