Athletes need to maintain optimum metabolic health. They require carbs to boost their workout sessions and provide energy. Blood sugar is the unit of measurement for carbohydrates. If you eat something high in sugar, you will detect a spike in glucose levels. The goal is to keep your glucose levels between 70 and 140 mg/dL when you're not training and in an upper range (recognized as your Glucose Performance Zone) when you are. Sure, there are nuances, but that's the gist of it.
When your blood glucose levels rise above 140 mg/dL, your body is subjected to peak rates of insulin production. This may result in metabolic disruptions or disturbances associated with inflammatory and hormonal imbalances. When you are not actively training, keeping your glucose levels within this range may help to minimize inflammatory reactions while supporting glycogen replenishment, trying to prepare you for a more reliable power provision to endorse fueling needs and maximize training adaptations.
What do we need to exercise and function? Energy! & What drives and fuels this energy? Glucose! Glucose Loading or Carb Loading is a process undertaken to increase your baseline glucose by increasing the availability of blood glucose and glycogen in your system.
Glucose consumption is essential to metabolic health as it serves as the major energy nutrient or "Fuel" and helps in the ways mentioned below.
1. Optimizes muscle and liver glycogen stores
2. Provides blood sugar for intestinal absorption during exercise
3. Supplies nearly all of the energy needed for the transformation from rest to modest or intense exercise
Consuming Carbohydrates following exercise is essential to replenish depleted glycogen reserves, making the relationship between Replenishment of Liver/Muscle Glycogen Stores AND Successive Exercise Tolerance very significant. Your average glucose levels rise as you increase your carbohydrate intake, making Rate of Glycogen Repletion the most important factor determining Recovery Time.
During rest, your glucose levels glide between 70 and 100 mg/dL, and your body uses a variety of homeostatic mechanisms to maintain and control such a stable glucose level. Within resting circumstances, metabolic perturbations (caused by any factor that affects your glucose level, as well as the hormones secreted to regulate such changes) are minimized, and your body shifts its "metabolic tone" toward a more catabolic state in which utilization predominates over storage.
When recovering from a high-intensity workout or lengthy training, keep your glucose levels above 70 mg/dL. This is to ensure that your body has enough glucose available. You can refill glycogen stores used during exercise quickly and effectively. Ensure adequate glucose flux to your muscles during the middle to low-intensity exercises or when aiming for peak performance in competition. This improves metabolic health and provides ready-to-use fuel to your working muscles. While you're at it, try not to let the glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dL to maintain optimal glucose availability.
When your glucose levels exceed 140 mg/dL, your body is likely to generate a substantial amount of insulin in an attempt to bring your glucose levels back down to a more manageable level. Insulin production peaks between 140 and 180 mg/dL, causing abrupt disruptions in metabolic homeostasis. Before exerting, insulin secretion induced by a glucose spike (>140 mg/dL) may impair your body's ability to use fat as a fuel during exercise, influencing the adaptations you seek in that specific training session.
The level of glucose levels you should preserve outside of training is represented by your Glucose Recovery Zone (GRZ). It is set to 70-140 mg/dL by default, but you can adjust it relying on standard glycemic control or desired adaptations.
Insulin management is a critical component of glucose management. When your blood glucose levels rise above 140 mg/dL, your body is subjected to peak insulin secretion rates. This may result in metabolic disruptions or disturbances associated with inflammatory and hormonal imbalances. Over-exposure to insulin can also cause your body to preferentially store glucose as fat instead of readily utilizing it. Because lowering inflammation and managing hormone levels is critical to recovery, avoid sharp glucose spikes.
When trying to recover from high-intensity training sessions, muscle and skeletal glycogen refueling is critical. The blood sugar levels should be above 70 mg/dL. When the levels fall below that level, available glucose is reduced to the point where replenishment and, thus, recovery are hampered. Keeping glucose levels within the specified range when not actively training may help to reduce immune reactions while supporting glycogen replenishment, preparing you for a more stable energy supply to support fueling needs and achieve maximum training adaptations.
When you are not actively training, keeping your glucose levels within the 70-140 mg/dL range may help to minimize inflammatory reactions while supporting glycogen replenishment. The level of glucose levels you should preserve outside of training is represented by your Glucose Recovery Zone (GRZ). Don't let low blood sugar levels during recovery compromise your performance. Sustain your Glucose Recovery Zone all through your recovery. You work too hard for exercise; don’t let the holidays ruin it.