Last month we talked about some gen-eral concepts relating to carbohydrates and how they can influence exercise per-formance and recovery. First, a few words about what not to do: stay away from sugars found in fruit and table sugar. Spe-cifically fructose and sucrose. Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar, and is found in fruit and fruit juice. Sucrose is table sugar, a disaccharide: a molecule formed when two sugar molecules are linked together, glucose and fructose. Sucrose is half fructose and you should keep that in mind. I received a ques-tion (prompting me to write these last two articles) about the popular notion of consuming a high sugar meal or feeding immediately after exercise to purpose-fully stimulate an insulin release. Which would, theoretically, replenish depleted glycogen stores quickly and speed-up the recovery process. This idea has become increasingly popular over the last year or two among serious weight trainers.
The thinking goes, since insulin also increases Creatine absorption, why not use sugar in combination with Creatine Monohydrate after the exercise session to help boost intramuscular creatine levels? We at Parrillo Performance feel this is a bad idea with potential problems galore. Besides, we have a better ‘vehicle’ to help you upload your Creatine as fast or faster than the ever-popular grape juice/Creatine cocktail so popular among top bodybuilders. Why is eating fruit and drinking fruit juice a bad nutritional idea? First and foremost: both are loaded with sugar and sugar is easily converted to fat. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are an excellent source of energy (if you can master the timing) and are near impos-sible to convert into body fat if taken moderately.
Certain types of complex carbs will do the job of sugar without the negative side effects. When you refill de-pleted glycogen there is a limit as to how fast you can replenish and store glycogen. If you use sugar to replenish, you risk ‘spillover’: the sugar enters your system faster than it can be utilized and the ex-cess is converted into body fat. Fructose has certain properties that are undesirable for athletes and athletics. Most sport nu-trition bars contain fructose or high fruc-tose corn syrup as the first listed (main) ingredient. Fructose is favored because it makes bland ingredients tasty. And good taste sells while bad taste generates few if any sales and zero repeat business. Fruc-tose is great for making a bar taste sweet but bad for your bodyfat percentage. So beware and read labels carefully. Fructose has a molecular structure that allows it to bypass one of the key regula-tory enzymes in glycolysis, the breakdown pathway of sugar metabolism. This en-zyme, phosphofructokinase (PFK) directs sugars either to be stored as glycogen or degraded and converted to energy.
The problems begin when sugar is degraded too fast and exceeds the energy needs of the cell. Sugar that bypasses PFK is not stored as glycogen and is preferentially converted into fat by the liver. It exits the liver – not as carbohydrate but as tri-glyceride (fat) – and is stored in fat cells. Bottom line: fructose is mostly converted to fat and then stored as fat. So that is why we suggest you avoid fruit and especially fruit juice. They contain sugar and sugar consumption will make you fat. Fat and glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate in the body, are the pri-mary fuels for exercise. The relative con-tribution that each makes, depends on: substrate availability, exercise intensity, exercise duration and the level of athletic conditioning. In extremely light and mild exercise, walking for example, fat serves as a primary energy source. This allows for prolonged exercise since calories are readily available as stored body fat.
As exercise intensity increases more of the energy demand is supplied by carbohy-drate sources. Keep in mind that in an intense aerobic exercise, such as running or stair climbing, fat continues to serve as an important fuel source. Even though a higher percentage of the calories burned during walking come from fat, you will burn more grams of body fat per hour doing intense exercise. If you want to get lean in a quick, efficient fashion, ap-proach your aerobic exercise seriously and intensely. Mall walking does not make you lean – although it’s better than no aerobic activity at all. Intensity is the key to productive exercise, whether in weight lifting or aerobics. A further ben-efit of intense aerobics is that it stimulates mitochondrial proliferation within a mus-cle. The more of these miniature cellular blast furnaces you possess, the quicker and more efficiently you will oxidize fat, even at lower exercise intensities. When we exercise intensely over a protracted period of time, mitochondria will multi-ply. The more mitochondria per square inch of muscle tissue you have the more efficiently you can burn fat for energy. Fat utilization requires oxygen. There is no such thing as anaerobic fat metabo-lism. As exercise intensity increases, the rate of oxygen delivery to the muscle will become a limiting factor.
At some point, no matter how well conditioned, you will reach a point where fat can not be metabolized rapidly enough to meet the immediate energy demands of the cell. Then carbohydrates become the second fuel source. At lower exercise intensi-ties, say 65% of VO2 maximum; fatigue is usually determined by depletion of glycogen stores. At higher exercise inten-sity, say 90% of VO2 maximum, muscle fatigue occurs before glycogen deple-tion occurs . Fatigue is then determined by the accumulation of anaerobic waste products (such as lactic acid) and by the depletion of the high-energy phosphate pool. Intense exercise (such as weight lifting) is almost exclusively fueled by carbohydrates simply because fats can-not be oxidized fast enough to supply the required level of energy production. Carbohydrates can be metabolized an-aerobically. This allows for very quick bursts of high energy that are short-lived but maximally intense.
A weight lifting set lasts a few seconds, maybe a minute, rarely longer. You deplete ATP and cre-atine phosphate stores when you lift and you deplete them quickly. At that point the anaerobic carbohydrate metabolism kicks in. It too, is limited: within one or two minutes it also fails. To maximize carbohydrate energy dur-ing a workout, it is advisable to have a pre-workout feeding. Take into account that liver glycogen stores are depleted during sleep and this can limit glucose availability during exercise. This can neg-atively affect exercise performance done first thing in the morning. It is advised to eat something before exercise. How much, what, and when are important questions and we have some excellent nutritional solutions. Studies have dem-onstrated an improvement in exercise per-formance by ingesting a glucose polymer solution (contained in our Pro-Carb or 50-50 Plus Formula) or a sport nutrition bar with glucose polymer (as in the Par-rillo Sport Nutrition Bar) anywhere from 5-60 minutes prior to exercise. One study fed participants a liquid formula supplying 45 grams of carbo-hydrates five minutes before exercise. The test participants demonstrated a 10% improvement in performance. Another study supplied athletes between 1.1 to 2.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight, in a liquid formula. They were fed this carb mixture a full sixty minutes before the exercise period and on average experienced a 12.5% in-crease in performance.
This increase in performance can be attributed to greater carbohydrate availability during exercise. Bodybuilders do aerobic exercise for very different reasons than endurance athletes who perform this type of training. Endur-ance athletes are interested in maximiz-ing cardio capacity and improving speed and performance. Bodybuilders perform aerobic training to burn fat not to improve their endurance. To maximize endurance, you want to maximize glycogen stores in order to maintain glucose availability. However, in order to maximize fat burn-ing we need to perform aerobic exercise under conditions of glycogen depletion. This forces the body to rely on fat as a prime fuel source. Sure, this will compro-mise our aerobic performance a bit, but the goal is fat burning, not improving our 5k time. This is why I suggest doing your aerobics first thing in the morning before breakfast, when glycogen stores are rela-tively depleted. I invented 50-50 Plus to fill a need: athletes demanded an easy way to in-gest performance enhancing pre-workout and post-workout supplements. 50-50 Plus covers all the nutritional bases: it provides a perfect blending of slow-re-lease carbohydrates to top off glycogen tanks and provides the same quick energy blast that fruit juices provide without the fatty side effects. In addition, 50-50 Plus provides anti-catabolic, high biological value protein which speeds up the recov-ery process and provides muscle-building protein for post-workout trauma. Is there a better post-workout food or supple-ment on the face of the planet? If there is, someone please contact us immedi-ately. We at Parrillo Performance cater to the nutritional needs of some of the top athletes in the world. People who need to recover from their body-shocking workouts quickly and completely – so they can subject themselves to another muscle-building, fat-stripping workout session. String a few dozen high intensity workouts together and suddenly a person is making real physical progress.
So much hinges on whether the bodybuilder has the energy for the workout and the nutrients necessary to stimulate recovery after the workout. Now, by taking a few scoops of 50-50 Plus both before and after a grueling exercise session, you can stimulate your progress by ensuring that you have all those important nutritional bases cov-ered. Instead of grape juice, upload your Creatine with 50-50 Plus. We engineer supplemental carbohydrates for optimal performance, so take advantage of these fabulous products that magnify the ben-efit you derive from your hard, intense workouts. Oh, and don’t forget to eat a well-rounded ‘Parrillo Meal’ (high pro-tein, low fat, a fiber carb, a starchy carb) upon completion, but no longer than two to three hours after a killer workout. I preach that there is no such thing as over training only under eating. Just make sure your eating is clean and nutritious. Follow these few tips and watch your progress gather ever-increasing momentum. Let’s get serious and start supplementing with 50-50 Plus after every single workout! For additional reference see Liebman and Wilkinson’s, Carbohydrate metabo-lism and exercise. Chapter 2 in Nutri-tion in Sport and Exercise, Wolinsky and Hickson, editors. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1994. This is an excellent resource text.