NOTE: If you live near any of the workshop locations, please share this announcement with coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers,dietitians, nutrition educators, and yes, serious athletes themselves.
“Training low” (with low carbohydrate stores) and "competing high" (with muscles fully loaded with glycogen) as a means to enhance competitive performance is receiving attention from coaches, elite athletes, and researchers alike. A 2005 study (1) with untrained subjects suggests that training with deplete glycogen stores can enhance adaptive muscle responses to conditions that might occur at the end of a competitive event. Training low might also reduce reliance on limited glycogen stores. When Hansen’s subjects“competed” with loaded glycogen stores, they performed better.
These results have raised questions and controversy. If you restrict your carbohydrate intake during training, you will become unable to train hard, and that can hurt your athletic ability. Sports dietitian Louise Burke PhD of the Australian Institute of Sports suggests inserting a few “training low” sessions into the training program where the focus is on making “aerobic” gains. You would want to target the sessions in the week where quality, intensity, or techniques are not as important.
You can train low by having either low blood glucose or low muscle glycogen; both scenarios can happen during a second training session in a day. Note: Adding caffeine to a “low” training session can enhance power by about 9%, but this still does not match the power generated by fully glycogen-loaded muscles plus caffeine.
Training low is not much fun. For most ordinary mortals, staying well fueled on a daily basis is a smart investment. I suggest you fuel your muscles on a daily basis with quality grains, fruits and vegetables. By being well fueled, you'll be able to work hard and enjoy improving your performance.
(1) Hansen A, C Fischer, P Plomgaard, J Andersen, B Saltin, B Pedersen 2005.Skeletal muscle adaptation: training twice every second day vs.training once daily. J Appl Physiol88(1):93-9
I’m training for amarathon and get annoyed by having to stop to urinate during my training runs. I drink a lot the day before, and I drink about 8 ounces 45 minutes before I start. I then have to pee at mile 2, then mile 5. The urine is a light color. I’m tempted to not drink anything…
The kidneys need about 45 to 90 minutes to process liquid; nerves might hasten the process! Try drinking earlier, void the excess, and then tank up again. For example, if have a long run on Sunday at 8:00 am. Drink well the day before (stopping by 7:00 p.m, so you don't wake up 5 times during the night to go to the bathroom), then in the morning, have a good drink by 6:00-6:30. That should give you time to get rid of the excess water.
Alternatively, if drink well the day before and are well hydrated, you could drink 8 to 12 ounces right before you start the run, so the water will be in your system and not in your kidneys.
Experiment and learn what works best for your body!
Could eating beets or beet juice before daily training help athlete strain harder and thereby enjoy better competitive outcomes?
Speaking at a international sports nutrition conference organized by PINES (Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport), AndyJones PhD of Exeter University in the UK reported that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice boosts blood levels of the nitric oxide precursor, nitrite, and this helps reduce the amount of oxygen needed during constant-work-rate exercise.
Hence, for the same oxygen uptake, athletes who consume beetroot “shots” (concentrated beetroot juice) might be able to exercise at a higher intensity; for example, a runner might improve by 5 seconds per mile. In general,athletes see about a 1.5% improvement in performance.
However, some athletes respond better to beetroot juice (and other nitrate-rich foods) than do others. Perhaps the initially “strong responders” tend to have a low intake of all nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables and as a result have a lower nitrite baseline?
To boost your nitrate intake, consume not only beets, but also strawberries, rhubarb, arugula, and spinach.
Note: Athletes who take beetroot juice should avoid using mouthwash. Mouthwash kills the bacteria in the mouth initiate the converion of nitrate into nitrite and then nitric oxide.