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Carbohydrates Part 1: The Fuel for Optimum Performance

Carbohydrate and Performance – The YPB Way

Your body is a genius at absorbing, storing, and utilising energy! Carbohydrates and fats are your two main sources of energy. Fat is great for getting you through gentle intensity exercise like a brisk walk or hike, but your body can’t break it down fast enough when you push harder. Carbs release energy quickly, they are what let you achieve your personal best. Carbs deliver the crucial energy for you to excel at high intensity and can be easily replaced on the go while you exercise.

Think of it like traveling by boat or by jet plane; they’ll both get you there but only one is built for speed. Even if you’re very lean, all of us carry lots of energy in our fat that could theoretically get you through even the longest race (fat isn’t a dirty word in metabolism; it’s a happy, useful little organ!). However, while a boat can go on for days or weeks, a jet plane only has one quick trip in it before refuelling. Your carbohydrate stores don’t last long, typically you will run out after 2-3 hours of exercise, much faster if you exercise in the morning without breakfast.

The Wall”. If you’ve hit the wall you have experienced carbohydrate depletion – it was awful wasn’t it?! Just like you can’t let a plane run out of fuel early, proper planning is needed to make sure you keep your carb fuel tank topped up. That way, your muscles are primed for performance and you can focus on living your personal best every day!

Carbohydrate Stores

Your body stores carbohydrate as ‘glycogen’ – a string of glucose all stuck together, think of grains of sugar when they form a clump. You break that back down to glucose when you need to use it. If you start training with low levels of glycogen then you’ll run out of energy much earlier. So, we want you to have lots of glycogen ready to go for every session (unless you are specifically training periodically in a “glycogen-depleted” state which we’ll talk about in a future blog post).

If you’re preparing for a race, you can eat extra carbohydrates in the days before to build up your stores, affectionately referred to as “carb-loading” at pre-event pasta parties! But no matter how well you fuel up, you burn through your glycogen stores every time you exercise. If you train several times each week or every day, your glycogen stores gradually decreases until, at the weekend, you’re too tired to do any quality training. Further, you will feel a lack of motivation, low mood, fatigue, and disinterest in your sport. Fortunately, this is easy to overcome with a personalized nutrition plan. 

During and after exercise, your body is primed and ready to keep you fuelled up. That readiness to use and store carbs goes away very quickly after you stop exercising. What this means is that you want to start preparing for your next session before you finish the current one. You can do that by eating carbs toward the end and in the 30 minutes after a training session – during this time your muscles are like carbohydrate sponges working hard to recover stronger than before. If you eat during this golden carb window, your body will be in peak form for recharging your glycogen. If you miss that window by waiting a couple of hours before eating carbs, no matter how much you eat you will not be able to recharge your glycogen stores as effectively in the following 24-36 hours. That’s where your YPB After bars fit in, as well as providing you with high quality plant-based protein your muscles need to repair and build after a tough session.

Can YPB help improve my performance?

There is a mountain of research concluding that eating carbohydrate during exercise improves your performance. In fact, the more carb you eat, the better your performance in longer events like a half marathon or longer. Take marathon and ironman triathlon for instance, the fastest finishers tend to be those who eat the most carbohydrate during the race. But that doesn’t happen by accident, you have to train your gut (blog 4 on carbs) just like you train your muscles. YPB offer you a personalized plan to get your sports nutrition just right, giving you the chance to reach your best.

YPB bars give you the fuel you need when you need it.

Keep it simple

What does eating the right amount of carbohydrate during my training do for me? All good things!

  • Increases the amount of time you can exercise
  • Makes your exercise feel easier or reduces the sense effort required to keep going
  • Improves coordination, skill and form during the session – really important for skill sports
  • Slows down muscle glycogen (carb) use so you have more in the tank for later and, most importantly, you recover faster for the next session when you can smash it again!

For further helpful and concise information read our Carbohydrate 2 blog post!

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