Carbs vs Protein For Endurance -Which Is Better?
Carbs vs Protein For Endurance: Completing a half marathon has been on your bucket list for ages, you finally round up a bunch of friends and sign up for a charity run in six months. After one of your training sessions, a friend suggests that you should add protein to your diet to perform better on your run. But another friend tells you that learning up on carbs is better for endurance. So who’s right if you’re into endurance training, like cycling or long-distance running,
Should you focus on carbs or protein?
First, let’s have a look at what happens inside a muscle during exercise. All dynamic forms of exercise like running require contraction of your muscle to generate force, and then relaxation so that the cycle can repeat itself. Deep down inside the muscle, there are two long fibers called actin and myosin. For a muscle to contract and generate force, myosin needs to grab the act and fiber and pull it. Of course, all of this doesn’t happen on its own. Muscles need the energy to make the magic happen.
When myosin pulls in actin fiber, the main fuel being burned is called adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP. Think of a muscle like the engine of a petrol thirsty car. Each muscle contains a small store of ATP, which is only enough to last for about three seconds of muscle contraction. So muscles need a way to continuously refuel and make new ATP. While the body has three energy storage tanks that it draws upon to power this ATP guzzling machine.
First, his creatine phosphate muscles break down creating rapidly make new ATP. But creating can only generate enough ATP to power a muscle for about 10 seconds. So creatine is good for short bursts of muscle power, like when lifting weights, but not so good for endurance. Then there’s the second tank, the glycogen lactic acid system.
Glycogen is a stored form of carbohydrates.
When you eat a slice of bread, the carbs that your body doesn’t use immediately is stored in the form of glycogen. All body cells can store glycogen to some extent, but your liver and muscle cells can store especially large amounts.
The glycogen lactic acid system can power muscles for about one and a half minutes, which is much better than the 10 seconds of the creatine system, but not enough to get you through a half marathon. Also, lactic acid causes extreme muscle fatigue. The final trick of the body sleeve is the aerobic system. In the mitochondria. pyruvic acid reacts with oxygen to produce enormous amounts of ATP. So to recap, stored ATP and creating can power muscle for about 10 seconds.
The glycogen lactic acid system powers the body for about one and a half minutes. But what about the aerobic system? Well, it is essentially unlimited. As long as there are enough nutrients, that aerobic system will continue to pump out ATP. But
what happens when the body runs low on glycogen?
But this process is not very efficient. So in order of priority, the body likes to use glycogen first, then fats and protein only as a last resort. So now that we know that the body likes to use carbs and fats for energy, let’s see which type of diet performs best for endurance training, a high carbohydrate diet, a high-fat diet, or a mixed diet.
On the left is a percentage of energy coming from carbs, with zero percent on the bottom and a hundred percent on the top.
For an athlete on a mixed diet. Initially, all the energy comes from cups, but they used up fairly quickly.
What about a high-fat diet?
Even at the start of the event, only 80% of the energy is from carbs, with fats providing the remaining 20% mainly due to low glycogen sources.
The athlete reaches exhaustion at about one and a half hours into the event. But the story is very different for a high carb diet. The glycogen stores are so abundant that even at one hour into the event, around three-quarters of energy is from carbs and the remaining 25% from fat
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