Carb loading’s advantages and risks

Carb-loading explained

especially for endurance-type sports that involve over 90 minutes. And so they might carbo-load one to four days before this event using all sorts of carbs, like sugar, these gels that many times have multiple dextrin and dextrin, which is a synthetic sugar, cliff bars, or I think they have like these cliff gel packs energy bars. So the goal is to beef up the glycogen reserve in the muscle and the liver now glycogen is stored in glucose molecules. And so the way that it works is that the glycogen stored in your muscle actually provides the muscle with glucose and glycogen that is stored in the liver, provides the blood with glucose as well as the brain. And there’s a big difference between the capacity that you can store glucose in the liver versus the muscle in the liver. It’s only like a hundred grams and the muscle it’s 500 grams. And so the reason why people do this is just to go longer without fatigue. But if you look at the type of fuel that they’re running on, which is glucose, because they’re not fat-adapted, there’s a pretty big limited capacity.

The dangers and benefits of carb-loading

because when you’re talking about glycogen stored sugar, it’s only like maybe 1700 calories of stored glucose, maybe up to 19, maybe 2000 calories at the very most of store glucose. So that would provide energy, roughly about 90 to 120 minutes at the most. Whereas if you were fat-adapted, it’s virtually unlimited as far as the number of calories that you can use as energy, even someone that is not overweight has about a hundred thousand calories of stored energy as their fat versus like 1700 calories.

So there’s a huge difference. And so more and more athletes are becoming fat-adapted because they’re finding it gives them an unfair advantage because of their ability to tap into this reserve that they didn’t have when they weren’t fat-adapted. So one disadvantage of carbo-loading is limited capacity.

Number two, you eventually hit the wall. That’s, that’s called bunk where you run out of sugar and now you’re hypoglycemic. And so you feel weak. You feel exhausted mentally and physically, and, this forces you to drink and eat sugar during the exercise bout. But I remember when I was in my twenties, when I was doing a lot of sugar and I was exercising, I would hit that wall and my legs literally would not move. So I know what that feels like. So I would just have some more sugar and keep going.

All right. So number one limited capacity to you hit the wall three, there’s a lot of gas, bloating, abdominal pain. When you do this carbo-loading, you’re having an excessive amount of fermentation. And so they’re just going to go to town and you’re going to start getting excess fermentation and gut. All right, the next one is diarrhea. That’s one of the side effects.

What does the problem with diarrhea? Well, it was a big problem because of dehydration. You’re going to lose your fluids and electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, as well as sodium. So it’s very, very dangerous to do any type of sporting event after you had diarrhea because he’s electrolytes feed your heart. And so if you’re going to do some type of endurance exercise with maybe subclinical amounts of, key electrolytes, you’re going to be at risk are at number five fluid retention.

When you carbo-load, you hold water for every one molecule of glucose, you hold between three to four molecules of water. So potentially you’re going to be holding onto about two and a half kilograms or 5.5 pounds of actual water on your body. All right. And then you have number six, blood pressure. So when you’re doing carbs, you’re retaining sodium and you’re retaining fluid and your blood pressure potentially could go up.

That can also be because of another thing I’m going to talk about when you consume that much-refined carb as sugar, you’re going to deplete potassium, magnesium, and other electrolytes. So the imbalance of sodium retention versus potassium deficiency can definitely set you up for high blood pressure. All right, number seven. And this is one of the things that I want to mention as far as a, a plus point or a positive thing, or a pro, as far as at elite athletes, elite athletes have three times the insulin sensitivity than nonathletes. And I’m talking about elite athletes.

Apparently, they don’t seem to get the severity of insulin resistance. And so if you’re going to consume all this sugar, right, you’re going to raise insulin. One big danger of that is insulin resistance. So apparently being an elite athlete counter, this insulin resistance. So that would be one benefit. And so far, I’m only finding this one benefit. So exercise does counter insulin resistance and insulin resistance is really part of a pre-diabetic condition in the study that I’m quoting really has only to do with elite athletes, not someone that is less than that, or just exercising maybe on a regular basis.

And they’re doing carbo-loading, I’m talking about elite athletes, all right. Number eight is inflammation and leaky gut. All that sugar is very oxidating. It can affect the eyes, the heart, the kidneys, and the nerves, and it can keep your body in a state of inflammation. So one thing we don’t want when we’re competing is more joint inflammation or muscle inflammation.

All right. And number nine, and this is something that’s not very known when you consume refined carbohydrates, as carbo-loading, you’re going to deplete a lot of potassium, B one magnesium, and even calcium. And these minerals and vitamins act as antioxidants to counter, some of the complications that occur when your blood sugar goes higher. And the more carbs that you need, the more B1 you need. And there are a lot of symptoms that go along with a B1 deficiency, one would be a buildup of lactic acid.

One thing you don’t want with exercise is an excessive amount of lactic acid, which is kind of a by-product of glucose metabolism. So when you’re exercising a lot, using a lot of energy, and a lot of carbo-loading without that one, there’s a whole series of things that can happen. One lactic acidosis, two neuritides, nerve pain, and three, a lot of cognitive problems, especially with stress and anxiety. And so if someone was going to be carbo-loading, they should also be one loading as well, as well as potassium loading, magnesium loading, and having some calcium as well.

Not that I recommend carbo-loading, but if you’re going to do it, you better make sure you take these other factors. Now, potassium is really important in regulating the heartbeat. It’s important in generating energy. And so is magnesium. Magnesium is necessary to make ATP. And so without these electrolytes, you’re just not going to have the efficiency to make the quantity of energy that you really need when competing. And so I’m not even talking about just supplying the heart with electrolytes. I’m talking about making energy in general. So based on all these points, I really don’t think carbo-loading is going to be worth that one little benefit of improving insulin resistance.