By Olympic Silver Medalist & Olympic Edge Co-Founder, Dotsie Bausch
Fueling for endurance sport is a hot topic among professional athletes and weekend warriors alike. What drink mix do I use? When? How much? What do I EAT? When? How much? What type of food?? These are all the questions I receive from clients and friends ad nauseam! It is a very important issue because, as my motto states, we must fuel to rule!
Fueling for endurance sport is one topic, but so many people who train for endurance sports like cycling and running, also train explosive work, sprints, plyometrics and even gym work. Let’s face it, even after 26.2 miles of organ jarring, speed running at a 5 minute mile pace, it can very often come down to a sprint finish for the win. As athletes, we must be prepared for every single scenario in a race setting.
Well guess what? High end, anaerobic work burns MORE glycogen in less time than endurance efficiency training does, but no one talks about the fuel requirements for both! Well, it is time to demystify the thought that our body does not require fuel while bleeding through our eyeballs during a nasty 30 second sprint interval.
It’s time to talk about glycogen consumption DURING these types of workouts, and yep, I’m talking to you Crossfitters out there too!
Question: What really happens when we DON’T fuel properly? Don’t we just lose energy and our body feels tired? Can’t we just rely on our fat stores to get us through a tough workout? Are there really any negative consequences for recovery in not fueling properly during training? Isn’t our body the only part of us that suffers when we run out of fuel?
I am going to answer these questions head on, backed with research and fueled, yes fueled, by years of trial and error.
Allow me to save you from yourself.
We have all heard that FUELING IS THE KEY TO continual power production and efficiency for endurance training. Or some of us have. I am still always shocked when I hear an athlete say they have devised a BRILLIANT plan to lose weight and it involves depletion DURING training.
Doing that has ONE result only; production of sub-par, mediocre, less than stellar, half-assed training, which in turn produces production of sub-par, mediocre, less than stellar, half-assed RACING. If you need to cut calories, do it OUTSIDE of training! Got it? Ok, good.
There are multiple areas in sport where we need glycogen fueling and replenishment to create staying power and premium output day in and day out. I am going to focus on one area for this article and that is: During training or when you are outputting energy.
One of the main concerns for endurance and power athletes alike is matching energy consumption with energy expenditure. Long distance, strenuous exercise requires a large number of calories. Short distance, high intensity exertion requires a large number of calories too. Elite athletes can potentially burn more than two to three times the number of calories as their untrained, weight-matched counterparts. If these calories are not replaced, energy for training and the ability to perform during competitions will decline.
Do I need to repeat this statement or you got it?
In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy known worldwide as the dreaded “Bonk.”
So why then does our body FEEL not only lower in energy when we deplete our glycogen stores, but we also FEEL dizzy, disoriented, fuzzy, a bit off and slightly strange? Because depletion of glycogen also affects our BRAINS.
Brain glycogen could be a critical energy source for brain activity when the glucose supply from the blood is inadequate (hypoglycaemia). Although it was formerly untested, it was hypothesized that during prolonged exhaustive exercise that induces hypoglycaemia and muscular glycogen depletion, the resultant hypoglycaemia may cause a decrease in brain glycogen.
Now we have a study to prove it (completed in late 2012) out of the labs of Virginia Tech! The study was done on rats (rats were not harmed in any way, except they did get pretty fit during the study), for the sport of soccer and I love this because soccer is obviously a combination sport of extreme aerobic conditioning coupled with short bursts of explosive speed and power.
Click here is the full study for you to reference:
But allow me to paraphrase in case you don’t like to click links, although I highly suggest you do.
The study found that during exercise, as muscle glycogen levels drop, the muscle begins to rely on blood glucose for energy. When glycogen depletion nears, the muscle has to take up more and more glucose, resulting in hypoglycemia.
Unfortunately, the brain uses blood glucose as a fuel to support many of the central nervous system’s functions, including psychological function. With a lack of glucose, lethargy as well as a lack of motivation and focus are hallmark symptoms!!! In this state, it is very difficult to engage in intense exercise, maintain motor skills and make proper decisions. (Holy smokes!)
Thus, glycogen depletion during exercise is not only affecting your muscle’s ability to perform but also affects your mind’s ability to function at its optimal state.
WORD TO THE WISE
By depleting your glycogen and not replenishing it, you are not only hurting your muscles and hence your training but you are making yourself stupid, literally, and you will NOT be able to make good, sharp, rational decisions during a race. Well, WOW, isn’t that just super information to have. You have control over your body and your mind. Bonus!
While all the rage in recent years has been to “drink your hydration and eat your calories” I would like to argue that this is a FABULOUS idea if we were all playing cricket. The real truth of the matter is, YOU try to bite, chew, and swallow successfully during hard training without choking to death! I’ve tried it, multiple times, and if we want to be able to output 1200 watts during sprint intervals training over and over, then we better have a fuel source that is DRINKABLE.
ENTER SUPER DRINK: GQ-6!
There are many reasons I love GQ6. The flavor “Green Apple” is my absolute favorite because of its mild taste, which combines tart with salt and an ever-so-slight hint of sweet, which leaves me wanting more and more and I never tire of the taste like I do with the other super sweet alternatives.
Another reason I know GQ6 is so effective is for all of the reasons I just spent the last 1000 words talking to you about. GQ6 has electrolytes for hydration AND GLYCOGEN for energy, which supports optimum hydration, power and recovery.BOOM! Now this is something you can shout about from the top step of the podium! (drop the mic and walk away
Dotsie Bausch and Jennie Reed have a collective 40 National and International titles to their names and in 2012 they shocked the world by winning the first U.S. Olympic track cycling medal in over 20 years at the 2012 London Olympic Games alongside their teammates. Their true underdog story of rising up against all odds has been chronicled numerous times in the media and a documentary film has been made about their journey called “Personal Gold.”
Pulling from their deep passion for track cycling and their desire to coach & lead the next generation of U.S. athletes in their beloved disciplines, Dotsie and Jennie have formed Olympic Edge.ai, which combines not only their collective knowledge of over 30 years as elite athletes but unveils a highly specialized program that includes proprietary intellectual property (IP) in the form of data driven input from the athlete/client that Olympic Edge processes and outputs for specific use.