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Mon, October 11, 2021 | Nutrition

The Right Fuel for You

Which fuel source would your style of training benefit from most?

Carbohydrate, protein, and fat each play distinct roles in fuelling exercise. The intensity of what you’re asking your body to do, as well as available existing energy, dictates which fuel is used most

 

Carbohydrate

– Carbohydrates provide a highly efficient source of fuel. Because the body requires less oxygen to burn carbohydrate as compared to protein or fat, carbohydrate is considered the body’s most efficient fuel source. Carbohydrate is increasingly vital during high-intensity exercise, when the body cannot process enough oxygen to meet its needs.

– Preserves lean protein (muscle) mass: Consuming adequate carbohydrate spares the body from using protein (from muscles, internal organs, or one’s diet) as an energy source. Dietary protein is much better utilised to build, maintain, and repair body tissues, as well as to synthesise hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

 

Fat

– Fat provides a concentrated source of energy – providing more than twice the potential energy than protein and carbohydrate do (9 calories per gram of fat versus 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate or protein)

– Fat also aids endurance by sparing glycogen reserves. Generally, as the duration or time spent exercising increases, intensity decreases and fat is the more important fuel source. Stored carbohydrate (muscle and liver glycogen) are subsequently used at a slower rate, thereby delaying the onset of fatigue and prolonging the activity.

 

Protein

– Protein provides energy in late stages of prolonged exercise. When muscle glycogen stores fall, as commonly occurs in the latter stages of endurance activities, the body breaks down amino acids found in skeletal muscle protein into glucose to supply up to 15 percent of the energy needed.

– It also provides energy when the daily diet is inadequate in total calories or carbohydrate. In this situation, the body is forced to rely on protein to meet its energy needs, leading to the breakdown of lean muscle mass.

 

Struggling to get enough protein in your diet? Find recipe inspiration here

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