What Carbs and How Much?
I’m sure all of my fellow athletes know how important it is to eat enough calories to fuel your workout, boost performance, and to enable muscle hypertrophy. But…
Is your digestion getting in the way of optimizing your performance?
We often hear the phrase ‘you are what you digest’ alluding to the notion that athletes who ingest food and digest it sub optimally are not getting the benefits of the food they’re intaking.
Isn’t that frustrating?
You could be doing all the “right” things when it comes to diet and exercise utilization, but hit a road block due to sub-optimal digestion.
Some complaints I hear often are the following:
Upper GI Symptoms: Regurgitation, upper abdominal bloating, belching, heartburn, nausea
Lower GI symptoms: flatulence, urge to defecate, lower abdominal bloating, loose stools, diarrhea
*dehydration will exacerbate all of these symptoms
First of all, I’m here to tell you that your gut is not “broken” for having GI discomfort in the midst of exercise (especially high intensity exercise). Physiologically this discomfort makes sense, considering the human GI tract plays a major role in delivering carbohydrates and fluid during exercise.
What are the general pre workout recommendations?
Most importantly carbs!! .25-.4g/ lb of BW is a good guideline. Minimize fat, and consume moderate protein. Here’s a great post for more on this: 𝐏𝐫𝐞-𝗪𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐍𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 + 𝐌𝐲 𝐆𝐨-𝐓𝐨 𝐌𝐞𝐚𝐥💪. Here are some more helpful posts on protein needs: Cycling & Source = 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐏𝐑𝐎𝐓𝐄𝐈𝐍 𝐃𝐄𝐁𝐀𝐓𝐄 or the idea of carb loading before workouts
Not all Carbs are Equal for Exercise
Consuming the correct TYPE of carbohydrate source is also very important. Fructose consumption in its own is likely to cause GI stress if utilized exclusively. Research shows it might be superior to consume multiple carbohydrate sources to decrease the possibility of carbohydrate accumulation in the intestine. Multiple transportable carbohydrates resulted in up to 75% higher oxidation rates versus carbohydrates that just use SGLT1 exclusively (SGLT1 transports mostly glucose and galactose). The use of multiple carbohydrate sources also has demonstrated an ability to delay fatigue and improve exercise performance.
Lastly, the human body is very adaptable. It might be possible to “train the gut” to get used to utilizing increased caloric/ fluid intake. This allows for adaptations in regards to stomach comfort, gastric emptying, intestinal absorption, and over time will decrease GI stress.
Tips for creating your pre workout meal/snack
- Pair a low fiber fast digesting carb source with a carb high in fructose (thus utilizing multiple transportable carbohydrates as explained above)
- Try some below
- Cream of rice+Protein Powder+Berries
2. Greek Yogurt+Banana+Cereal
3. Rice cakes+PB+Egg Whites
Remember that exercise is a stress. Granted a useful one, but a stress nonetheless. With the stress of exercise, your fight or flight system is activated for a duration of time, again not inherently a bad thing, but it does mean that your rest and digest system is repressed during exercise. This makes it extremely important to pay attention to the composition of your pre workout meal and how long you have it before your training session. As a general example, the higher fat your meal is the longer it will take to digest, and therefore the farther out said meal should be consumed prior to a training session.
The most important factor to remember in all of this is individual variability and the inclination of each individual body to respond differently to a type of pre-workout routine. Educated trial and error is overall the best and most effective way to create a consistent and effective pre-workout and intra workout regime in order to optimize your training!
Registered Dietitian and published nutrition researchers Dasha Agoulnik has created a protocol to help her clients get to the root cause of their digestive issues and empower their guts with everything they need to know to tackle life full force.
The program is 12 weeks and will help reduce bloat and identify food sensitivities naturally. 100% of her clients have seen inflammation. Click here to read testimonials and learn more.
Now that you know what affects the gut….
Want to know HOW to improve with each of these pillars? Click here for 50 ways to improve your gut health using the CorePerform pillars.