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Bulletin #49 – Energy Channeling For Ultimate Sports Performance

You already know that usingCapTri is a great way to lose fat and getin shape. What you may not know is howto use CapTri to improve sports perfor-mance. In the most basic sense, sportsperformance is about muscle power out-put. The ability of a muscle to producepower is limited by it’s available fuelsupply. Specifically, muscle power pro-duction is closely related to carbohy-drate availability. There is a close cor-relation between muscle glycogendepletion and muscle exhaustion. Theproblem is, your body can only storeso much glycogen.

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When it’s used up,you “hit the wall,” as endurance ath-letes understand all too well.For all but the most relaxed ofexercises (such as walking), carbohy-drate is the muscle’s preferred fuel sub-strate (energy source). Muscles can infact use carbohydrate, fat, and aminoacids as fuel, but these different fuelsources are not equally effective. Car-bohydrate can be stored as glycogenright inside the muscle and is immedi-ately available for use as fuel. For briefperiods of time (one or two minutes)carbohydrates can be utilized to pro-vide energy without the benefit of oxy-gen. This is known as “anaerobic me-tabolism,” and can provide short burstsof energy for very intense exercise ac-tivity, such as weight lifting. Fats playan important role in energy productionduring prolonged exercise. However,there are two problems with fat as anexercise fuel.

First, fat requires oxy-gen to be converted into energy – thereis no anaerobic metabolism of fat. Thismeans that the rate of energy productionfrom fat is limited by the rate of oxygendelivery to muscles. Second, your musclescan store relatively little fat inside them,so before fatty acids can be burned bymuscles they have to be imported fromsomewhere else. You may have noticedthat most fat in humans is stored aroundthe waist and hips, not inside muscles (toobad). This means that fatty acid utiliza-tion is also limited by delivery of fattyacids to muscles. The slowest step intransporting fatty acids from your waistto your muscles is the initial release offatty acids from fat cells in adipose stores.This is a relatively slow process and onlyoccurs at a significant rate when carbo-hydrate energy stores are already depleted.Before much fat is released from adiposetissue, blood sugar levels must drop, caus-ing a decrease in insulin and an increasein glucagon and catecholamines. The cat-echolamine norepinephrine (a cousin ofepinephrine, or adrenaline) is releasedfrom sympathetic nerve endings aroundfat cells and is the most potent stimulusfor fatty acid release.

Obviously, fatty acid utilization isa complicated process and is relativelyslow. Fatty acids can supply energyfast enough to keep up with the de-mands of walking or a slow bike ride,but any exercise more intense reliesmainly on carbs as the primary fuelsource. Your muscles can also usetheir own amino acids as fuel (Godforbid) but this is a real last resort.After glycogen stores are essentiallydepleted and fatty acid metabolism isin high gear, amino acid metabolismkicks in to supply a little extra energy.During a long run, amino acid oxida-tion can account for up to 5-10% ofenergy substrate, which equates toabout 50 grams of protein. This is un-desirable (to make the understatementof the year).Weight lifting is an anaerobic ex-ercise which relies almost exclusivelyon carbohydrate as an energy source.(This is one reason the high fat – lowcarb diet doesn’t make much sense tome.) Simply put, fatty acid metabo-lism is just too slow to meet the en-ergy demands of resistance training.Similarly, intense endurance exerciseis also limited by carbohydrate avail-ability. Time to exhaustion in endur-ance exercise is closely related tomuscle glycogen depletion. When anendurance athlete runs out of glycogenhe doesn’t have to stop, but he will slowdown dramatically. The primary role offat as an exercise fuel is to allow athletesto complete prolonged workouts. It doesthis by reducing the rate of glycogen uti-lization by muscle and thereby delayingthe onset of exhaustion (1).

In other words, an increased supply and oxidationof fatty acids will slow the rate of glyco-gen depletion and improve endurance.The question is, how do we de-liver greater amounts of fatty acids tomuscle during exercise? Fatty acids storedin body fat tissue don’t work very wellfor this purpose. As explained above, thesefats are not released from body stores toa significant degree until carbohydrate re-serves are substantially depleted. Obvi-ously, this won’t help since what we’retrying to do is slow the depletion of bodycarbohydrate stores in the first place.Another approach is to consume a highfat diet. Believe it or not, this has beentried and is called “fat loading” (2). Asyou might imagine, it doesn’t work verywell, unless your idea of fat loading is justto get fat. Apparently conventional dietaryfat is digested and absorbed too slowly toreally be of much help. The answer is tosupplement the diet with medium chainfatty acids. These special fats are digestedand absorbed much faster than regular fat,in fact as fast as glucose (1,3). The rapidabsorption and metabolism of MCFAsprovides an energy substrate that can ef-fectively spare glycogen and delay theonset of fatigue during prolonged intenseexercise.Glycerol is a small three carboncompound which can bind fatty acids, onefatty acid to each of it’s carbon atoms.When long fatty acids (16-18 carbon at-oms in length) are bound, this is called along chain triglyceride (LCT). Everydayvegetable oils are long chain triglycerides.

If medium chain fatty acids (8 to 10 car-bon atoms in length) are bound, this iscalled a medium chain triglyceride (MCT).Conventional fats (LCTs) are very in-soluble in water. This makes them hardto digest and transport. Inside the intes-tine, long chain triglycerides are cleavedfrom their glycerol backbone by an en-zyme called pancreatic lipase. The longchain fatty acids (LCFAs) are then boundby bile salts (produced by the liver andstored in the gallbladder) for transportthrough the intestine. When you eat longchain fats they are not released directlyinto the bloodstream. Once absorbed in-side an intestinal cell, the LCFAs are re-bound to glycerol to re-form LCTs, whichare then bound by proteins to make tinyparticles called chylomicrons. The pro-teins act like detergent to make the fatmore water soluble. The chylomicrons arereleased into the lymphatic system, an-other system of vessels in the body sepa-rate from the circulatory system. Fromthere the lymphatic system delivers thechylomicrons to the bloodstream via thethoracic duct, which is located on the rightside of your neck not far from your spine.The long chain fats are then circulatedthroughout your body by the bloodstream.Most of these fat molecules are absorbedby fat cells and stored there. A few aredelivered to muscle for use as fuel.

Thisis a long complicated metabolic processthat takes a long time. Importantly, pleasenotice that the metabolic pathway followedby LCTs ends up by delivering them tofat cells for storage. Thus the old saying“fat makes you fat.”Medium chain fatty acids(MCFAs) skip this whole process. Sincethey are smaller fat molecules they aremore water soluble and are thereforeeasier for the body to process. MCTs arereleased directly into the bloodstream byintestinal cells, without the need to be in-corporated into chylomicrons and carriedin the lymphatic system. Nutrient-richblood leaving the intestine is carried di-rectly to the liver by the portal vein forprocessing. The liver absorbs almost allof the MCTs from the portal blood andrapidly metabolizes them into ketone bod-ies. Ketone bodies are very small (two tofour carbon atoms) molecules which rep-resent partially broken down fatty acids.The ketone bodies are released from theliver into the bloodstream and are carriedto muscles where they are immediatelyused for energy. This additional energysubstrate (MCFA-derived ketone bodies)actually spares glucose oxidation.

This de-lays glycogen depletion and the onset ofmuscular fatigue.The process of MCT digestion,absorption, conversion into ketones, andtransport to muscle takes place very rap-idly. In fact, energy from MCFAs is avail-able as fast as from glucose itself (1,3).This makes MCFAs the ideal energysource for athletes trying to push the en-velop of endurance. Notice two otherthings that make CapTri the ideal fuel forathletes. First, CapTri is not delivered tofat cells for storage. As amazing as itsounds, medium chain triglycerides arenot stored as fat. Instead they are prefer-entially burned as fuel. Does this meanyou have “carte blanche” to eat as muchas you want, and you won’t get fat aslong as you poor some CapTri on top ofyour food? Of course not. Too many calo-ries will make you gain fat. The point isthat conventional fats are preferentiallystored as fat (that’s the natural result ofthe metabolic pathway they follow)whereas CapTri is preferentially burnedas energy. This means that if you eat aclean diet which includes CapTri you willfind it very difficult to gain fat. It’s harderfor your body to store CapTri as fat thanit is to convert carbohydrate into fat. Be-tween conventional fat, CapTri, and car-bohydrate, CapTri has the least tendencyto be stored as body fat.

For any givenlevel of caloric intake, you will have lessbody fat the more CapTri you are using.The other fact that makes CapTrithe ideal energy supplement for athletesis that MCFAs don’trequire the carnitine shuttle for transport inside mitochondria. Mitochondria are thepower plants inside cells where food mol-ecules are burned to produce cellular en-ergy. Regular fat molecules have to becarried inside the mitochondria by thecarnitine shuttle. The problem is, the car-nitine shuttle is not very active until car-bohydrate stores are significantly depleted.Carbohydrate metabolism generates a me-tabolite called malonyl-CoA which inhib-its the activity of the carnitine shuttle.Therefore, utilization of conventional fatsis severely limited at two places: therelease of fatty acids from fat cellsand the entry of fatty acids into mi-tochondria are both inhibited by car-bohydrate. This is why regular fatsdon’t work very well to spare gly-cogen and improve endurance.Regular fats can’t be used as a sig-nificant energy source until the carbsare already used up, and then it’s toolate. CapTri bypasses both of theselimitations.

While a great deal is knownabout MCFA metabolism, most ofour thinking on MCFAs and exer-cise performance has been theoreti-cal with little experimental data inhumans to back it up. Until now. Astudy was performed using six nor-mal subjects who exercised at 40%VO2 max for 60 minutes or 80%VO2 max for 30 minutes on two dif-ferent occasions (1,4). (VO2 maxdescribes exercise intensity in termsof percent of maximal oxygen con-sumption.) Either a LCFA or aMCFA was infused during the study.Using radioactive tracer techniques,the authors were able to calculate thepercent of LCFA or MCFA oxidized(burned) during the exercise. Total freefatty acid concentration was kept the samebetween the two trials. When the exer-cise intensity was increased from 40% to80%, the oxidation of LCFA remained un-changed, while MCFA utilization increasedsignificantly. It was concluded that entryof LCFAs into the mitochondria is limited(presumably by the carnitine shuttle) sothat oxidation of LCFAs cannot keep upwith the increased energy demands of highintensity exercise. On the other hand,MCFAs are readily oxidized more rapidlyas energy demand increases. This is ex-actly what I have been saying for years.Another study looked at the ef-fects of MCFAs on carbohydrate metabo-lism and cycling performance (1,5). Sixendurance trained cyclists rode at 60%peak VO2 for 2 hours and then performeda 40 km time trial on a laboratory cyclingergometer at 70-90% max on three sepa-rate occasions. Subjects drank an exer-cise drink consisting of glucose alone,glucose + MCFA, or MCFA alone.

Theauthors found that the carbohydrate +MCFA drink significantly improved cy-cling performance compared to either glu-cose or MCFA alone. As expected, MCFAingestion reduced glucose oxidation dur-ing the 2 hour pre-ride at 60% VO2 max,suggesting that the improvement in per-formance resulted from sparing of muscleglycogen by MCFA. Again, just what weexpected.These studies demonstrate threethings about MCFAs and sports perfor-mance. First, MCFAs apparently work toimprove performance by “sparing”muscle glycogen, thereby delaying theonset of fatigue. Second, the effect ofMCFAs appears to be greatest during highintensity exercise. During low intensityexercise conventional fats appear to func-tion adequately as an energy source. Third,the effects of MCFAs are likely to be morepronounced near the end of long endur-ance events (or at the end of longworkouts for bodybuilders). Thismakes good sense, because at thebeginning of the race depletion ofglycogen reserves is not a threat any-way.What are some specific recom-mendations for how to use CapTrito improve athletic performance?First off, don’t wait until the day ofan athletic competition and thenchug a bottle of CapTri right beforeyour event. Big mistake. You’ll pukeand have diarrhea. At the same time.Not good. You need to start usingCapTri several weeks out at a mini-mum, and a few months out wouldbe better. Introduce CapTri intoyour system slowly, say one-halftablespoon per meal. Mix it withyour food and don’t take it by itselfon an empty stomach. After a fewdays, increase your usage by one-half tablespoon per meal. Continuethis until you build up to two to threetablespoons with each meal.

Take afew days off from training before acompetitive event and eat some ex-tra carbohydrates (about 100 gramsextra per meal). This will saturate yourglycogen stores. The day of your eventeat a complex carb for breakfast (oatmealis probably ideal) along with one to twoscoops of Hi-Protein Powder and threeto four tablespoons of CapTri. This isprobably the perfect pre-event meal. If youdon’t like competing with a full stomach,another approach which works quite wellis to combine Pro-Carb Formula andCapTri to make a drink. Use one scoopPro-Carb to one tablespoon CapTri. I’m not kidding, this combination is really quiteremarkable. This makes a fantastic pre-workout drink for bodybuilders as wellas a pre-event drink for endurance ath-letes. Finally, perhaps the most popularapproach is the Parrillo BAR. It combinesCapTri with a medium chain glucose poly-mer along with a high-efficiency proteinsource.If you’re serious about sportsperformance, you owe it to yourself toexperiment with these nutritional tech-niques. This is cutting edge stuff, whichis just beginning to appear in the scien-tific literature. We’ve been developingthese techniques over the last few years,and I think you’re going to hear a lot aboutit in the future. Endurance performanceis limited largely by glycogen substrateavailability. MCFAs allow us to channelan energy substrate directly to workingmuscle to spare glycogen and delay fa-tigue. This means improved performance- Parrillo Performance.


1. Berning JR. The role of medium chaintriglycerides in exercise. InternationalJournal of Sport Nutrition 6: 121-133,1996.

2. Sherman WM and Leenders N. Fatloading: the next magic bullet? Interna-tional Journal of Sport Nutrition 5: s1-s12,1995.

3. Bach AC and Babayan VK. Mediumchain triglycerides: an update. Am. J. Clin.Nutr. 336: 950-962, 1982.

4. Sidossis LS, Gastaldelli A, and WolfeRR. Fatty acid uptake by the mitochon-dria limits fat oxidation in strenuous exer-cise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 27 (5,suppl): s102, 1995.

5. VanZyl C, Lambert EV, Noakes TD, andDennis SC. Effects of medium chain trig-lyceride ingestion on carbohydrate me-tabolism and cycling performance.Biochem. Exerc. 1994.

2018-03-13T11:10:36-04:00 May 29th, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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