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Staying Sweet >

On Blast:  The Skinny on Blood Glucose

Did you know that stabilizing blood sugar is the key to maintaining muscle mass, weight loss, and reducing fatigue?

On maintaining muscle mass:  Glucose (often referred to as your blood sugar) is the main fuel source for your body during physical performance.  As your body requires more fuel, its sources in your body begin to deplete.  As you continue your performance, your body eventually can have blood sugar low enough to trigger a “starvation” phase.  During this phase, an amino acid named alanine is sent from your muscle tissue to the liver in order to be converted into more glucose.  Therefore, in an effort to preserve muscle tissue, it’s a beneficial to maintain your blood glucose (see previous entries on sports beverages and whole grain food choices).

How often we eat can also be important, as shown in previous research.  Numerous studies have shown a benefit of consuming smaller meals throughout the day with a set number of calories.  Through this practice, insulin response levels were reduced, and blood glucose levels were maintained (when glucose goes up, insulin goes up…so if blood glucose is kept at a healthy level, you see few insulin spikes).  Blood sugar tends to rise and fall every 3 hours.  By maintaining a 3 meal/day pattern with small snacks in between, a better blood glucose is maintained, and improvement is seen in mental acuity and enhanced athletic performance.

Verdict:  Stay sweet!  Remind yourself to sip on a glucose source (Gatorade?) every 20 minutes…even if you are not thirsty.

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Beer on the Run…Still in the Clear?

On Blast:  Beer as an Ergogenic Aid

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I’ve posted recipes, gadgets, and food deals…it’s time for an article.  My latest reads are on ergogenic aids.  No, I’m not talking about those expensive, modern-looking chairs that make your back feel better– those are ergonomics.  I’m talking about supplements and enhancers that people take to improve their physical performance.  :o)

According to a great article in American Family Medicine, 76 to 100 percent of athletes in some sports are reported to use them. Typically, these include vitamins, steroids, amphetamines, creatine, caffeine, and various others.  The one that struck my eye was…alcohol.  I have been noticing an upward trend of runners being offered beer as ergogenic aid during various races.  These were time-chipped races, so I have to ask why?  And this is what I’ve found.

Side Effects

  1. Alcohol is not the greatest for energy balance.  One beer will afford you about kcal 150, CHO 13g, and 13g alcohol, which is metabolically costly. It requires more oxygen to metabolize each gram of alcohol than any of the other substrates involved.  This can affect the rest of the body’s energy metabolism. 
  2. Although it reduces anxiety, it also acts as a depressant. 
  3. During events of long distance running, alcohol can decrease the liver’s glycogen production, as well as the stomach’s release of glucose.  Science jargon…what does that mean for me? It means that the runner can have lower blood sugar later in the event, which can affect performance.
  4. The end result of alcohol intake is dehydration, which is detrimental for muscle performance, energy level, and runner safety.

The Verdict:  Save it for the after party.