How are you doing this week? Are you incorporating any of the shared fitness information over the last 5 issues? I truly hope that you are and that you are reaping the benefits of the changes you are making for a more fit life.
In this issue I am going to touch briefly on one of the internal effects taking place in the body during exercise. I had mentioned this in the last issue of the Current. There is so much research on this topic that it would take more space then allotted to cover here. So with that, I want to talk to give you a little information about Glycogen. When you are eating your healthy meal, you know the one with lots of lean proteins and raw fruits and vegetables, the body breaks down the carbohydrates from those foods and converts the carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar and it is the number one source of fuel for our cells. When we eat more “carbs” than the body needs to convert and burn for energy, it will store the excess glucose in our liver and skeletal muscles. This stored form of glucose is called glycogen. The average person can store between 500 and 600 grams of glycogen (approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories). When we eat more than the body can store as glycogen, it will be stored as fat. The glycogen that is stored in the liver is used to maintain blood glucose levels in between meals. When blood sugar levels drop, glycogen will be broken down to release more glucose into the blood. This is important for our brains which have a hunger for glucose as well. The glycogen that is stored in our skeletal muscle is available for immediate use to fuel our short and intense training routines. In activities such as sprinting and weight lifting, the body needs fuel for energy that can be accessed rapidly and glycogen answers the call. Where energy is needed for a longer endurance type activity, the body can and will use fat as a fuel source. However, glycogen is needed to break down that stored fat so that muscles can use it for fuel. Another issue you want to avoid is that the body will break down protein in muscle to make the fuel it needs as well. So, it is very important to eat adequate supplies of carbohydrates and from clean sources to prevent the loss of muscle tissue to make fuel. When athletes deplete their glycogen stores they experience that phrase we have all heard called hitting the wall. This is where there is no more energy to continue on with exercising. There are ways to get over that wall, but that would be a topic for another issue of the Current, stay tuned for that one. I want to say to you again that a good source and an adequate amount of carbs need to be consumed daily to not only fuel bodily functions, but to fuel your activities of daily living (ADLs) as well. Below is a great link for a list of the good versus the bad in your hunt for carbohydrates when you visit a local roadside stand or are in the grocery store on your next shopping day. Take a read and let’s fill our livers and our muscles with glycogen made from glucose supplied from healthy sources. Wishing you great health and happy eating, Bob