Carbohydrates & The Bath Analogy
When you consume carbs they are broken down into glucose and used for energy. (This has been previously covered in detail on my podcast, Episode 8 www.townsontraining.co.uk/podcast) Any glucose that is not used is stored as Glycogen in the muscles and the liver, once full glycogen is then stored as fat in adipose tissue throw the process of Lipogenesis.
This is exactly why, manipulating the timing of carbohydrates can have huge benefits relating to body composition. Eating your carbohydrate sources around exercise, when the body is primed to utilize the fuel.
The best analogy, I have been able to come up with for this is ‘The Bath Tub’ analogy. Think of the water as your stores of Glycogen (stored carbohydrate energy). Once you begin exercising, you have pulled the plug, your stores or reducing. Now the important point to note here, is that your bath is not going to be full before you start, unless you have pre filled it with some Carbs. (Eating before exercise). Even during everyday activity, whenever the body moves it will use up glycogen stores, so unless you fill it, it will start at a depleted level.
You have come to the end of your exercise session, your body has pretty much used up its energy stores of Glycogen, you have an almost empty bath! Now I know what you’re thinking, that’s a good thing, we are done. Not so much, in the couple of hours after exercise, this is when the body needs fuel the most. This is the critical area of repair, recovery and most importantly improvement. In order to utilize Protein, Carbohydrates need to present, otherwise the Protein becomes useless (which we know is the building blocks of recovery in the body). This is where some quick acting sugars can work well, for faster absorption. Start filling your bath back up.
Now we have perfectly fuelled our training session. We have performed to our optimal potential, our body is now working overtime to recover and prepare it for the next. We know the body uses a combination of all our energy systems to fuel the body (previously discussed on a podcast episode 5 www.townsontraining.co.uk/podcast), and this is where the magic happens. Assuming we are following the guidelines for fat loss, in terms of a calorie deficit, our body will begin use our fat stores as prolonged fuel source for the duration of the day/night, which is why daily activity outside of exercise is just as important for fat loss and health.
The easiest way to now keep your total calories lower for the rest of the day, is to reduce your carbohydrate intake for the other hours of the day. Why? Because these are the ones along with fats that are the easiest to overeat. Please do not be tempted to cut carbs completely, as we have previously discussed, Carbs play a hugely important role in a balanced diet.
Now, go away, think of exercise as ‘Bath Time’, keep the bath full around exercise and let the magic happen for the rest of day.