Blood Sugar & Metabolic FitnessAn important way to take control of and improve your metabolic fitness is to eat and fuel with foods that help regulate blood sugar. There are several compelling reasons why we should all strive to keep our blood sugar at a stable and healthy level:
- Steady energy throughout the day
- Sustained exercise endurance
- Sharp focus and cognition
- Improved fat-burning ability and better body composition
- Better hunger control & reduced cravings
- Lowered risk for metabolic diseases
How Athletes Can Get It WrongFor most athletes, being physically active and exercising regularly is the component of metabolic fitness that’s easier to get right. However, many athletes can get in trouble by fueling their workouts in a way that is not optimal for blood sugar stabilization, creating a cascade of events that can be detrimental to metabolic fitness. Here are two common ways that well-intentioned athletes can get it wrong.
1. Over-reliance on fast carbsMost athletes over consume “fast-carbohydrates” before/during/after workouts that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar for quick, temporary energy. These fast-carbs have a variety of names - from simple sugars like sucrose, to granulated sugars like maltodextrin, to sugar syrups like brown rice syrup - and are commonly found in energy and sports nutrition products. Oftentimes when athletes use mostly fast-carbs for their workouts, they feel a dip in energy requiring continuous supplementation in order to get through the workout. Fast-carbs can disrupt the body’s metabolism and cause it to utilize more carbs rather than fat as fuel, limiting the impact of exercise on body composition. Supplementation during exercise should only occur if an athlete is exercising 90 mins or more in order to fully realize the metabolic benefits of exercise. Knowing when and how to fuel during and around exercise is key to improving metabolic fitness.
2. Overconsumption post-workoutWhen athletes engage in high-intensity exercise, the fuel source their body utilizes most for quick energy is carbohydrate (CHO). This rapid energy expenditure of CHO can lead to a dip in blood sugar post-workout and usually leads to feelings of extreme hunger and cravings for sugary, starchy, and salty foods. An exercise nutrition plan focused on blood sugar stabilization is key to avoiding the post-workout munchies and avoiding sabotaging your metabolic fitness.
Improving Metabolic Fitness for AthletesHere are two steps athletes can take to improve their metabolic fitness by focusing on better blood sugar control:
1. Pay more attention to daily food/drink intakeThe majority of energy intake among individuals in the US comes from ultra-processed foods and beverages. Reducing calorie intake from sugar-sweetened beverages such as juice, soda and sports drinks is an easy way to remove excess sugar in your daily food intake, as well as including more fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds into your everyday intake. Consuming more fiber-rich foods can help to balance blood sugar and promote satiety with meals. Plan for training by eating slow-release, complex carbohydrate sources that will help keep your blood sugar stable for long periods of time, all the while letting you burn more fat.
2. Choose a sport nutrition product that promotes balanced blood sugar
Most energy products are based on fast carbs that spike your blood sugar and require continuous supplementation, which is not the ideal metabolic environment for your body to burn fat. UCAN nutrition products are based on LIVSTEADY, a patented, low glycemic carbohydrate that both doesn’t spike your blood sugar and delivers extended blood sugar stability for sustained energy without the need for continuous supplementation.