How many of you remember this line from Finding Nemo?! One of my all time favorite kid movies, can’t lie. Although, now that I am older, I find this quote a little more comical for a different reason.
As a shark, fish is probably your best source of food for energy for all the daily functions. Uhh, HELLLOOOO Bruce! Why are you cutting out fish then?! Maybe Bruce is trying to work on his figure a little, hehe.
Well, what would this “fish” translate to for us humans you ask? The taboo, and scary, topic for many years known as carbs.
As a student studying in exercise science, this topic comes up a lot in lectures, labs, and even from my friends here and there. Questions like “I wanna lose weight..should I cut out carbs?” to “I got the exercise down, how can I improve with my diet?” Well, the answer is simply determined by what your goals are set out to be.
Ever heard the saying “fats burn in the flame of carbohydrates” ? Maybe you haven’t, or maybe you have and you’re not quite sure what that means. Fear not, I have an answer! In the body, for fats to be broken down for energy, carbs are required. Therefore, if you have no carbs, how useful is your fat?! Not that useful I’d say….
You’re probably saying, ” Okay, I getcha Nat, but the why does Atkins promote a low carb diet and work for some?” Well, low carb diets still aren’t a bad thing- for someone whose goal is to shed their pounds and start their healthier lifestyle that is. With the low carbs, your body will utilize these in burning the other sources of energy.
So now you’re probably thinking…”This sounds fine for you, so why isn’t it the best for running then?!”
Not to say low carb diets wouldn’t work for forever, but how many of you could REALLY cut out the majority of breads (all hail the pizza crusts), vegetables, and fruits? Maybe you have the willpower that I wish I had! If you took away my weekly post-long-run pizza, and my delicious fruit sprees of shoving raspberries in my face, I think I would probably turn into grumpy cat…
Anyways, even if you were the almighty person of no carbs, it physiologically still isn’t what your body desires. In the first 3 to 5 minutes of your run, or any sport, your body uses its anaerobic system, where your body is using carbs as the main source of fuel, keeping your foot pounding one in front of the other. After these 3-5 minutes, the body starts using more fat as a source, due to the higher amount of energy fats produce in the body. These fats are what help keep your functions going and pushing you to the finish line! BUT as we talked about earlier, we need carbs to use fats. Ever see all those gels/chews at the aid stations in your run? Or in fact, maybe you brought your own! These are full of carbs, where the runner replenishes their carb storage, allowing them to put those fats to good use! For performance, the more carbs you have, the better.
In fact, there is a study out there that shows the comparison between trained individuals (in this specific one, soccer players) who have a low carb diet and trained individuals with a high carb diet. The study’s data showed that the high carb diet had a better performance (such as sprints, ball handling, jogging, and walking) and a higher muscle glycogen storage (this is an AWESOME thing). The individuals with a low carb diet showed to walk about half the game as their sprints/jogging declined as the game went on, and their muscle glycogen storage was about 3 times as less of those players with a high carb diet! Isn’t that crazy??
Bottom line, carbs aren’t only your friend for performance, they’re your BEST friend!