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Fueling for Metabolic Fitness

Fueling for Metabolic Fitness

By Lauren Mitchell, Registered Sports Dietitian at eNRG Performance

Metabolic fitness is within our control and it's something we can improve based on the choices made on a daily basis. Our level of metabolic fitness can determine our ability to live a long, active and healthy life. Becoming physically fit requires consistent exercise. Becoming metabolically fit involves consistently making the right decision about what to eat, when to eat, and how to pair foods.

Current research shows that 88% of Americans are not metabolically healthy and we are more sedentary than ever. Being an athlete and physically active is a good start down the road to peak metabolic fitness, but it does not necessarily mean you are metabolically fit. For an athlete, improving metabolic fitness will positively impact focus, performance, and recovery.

Blood Sugar & Metabolic Fitness

An 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

Glucose (blood sugar) is the preferred fuel source of the body and needs to be tightly regulated for metabolism to work effectively. Excess glucose in the bloodstream can cause energy imbalances, inflammation, and insulin resistance - a condition that makes it more difficult to break down stored fat and use it for energy among other metabolic disruptions. We eat nearly 10x more sugar per day than we did 100 years ago and 120 million Americans are living with pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Getting sufficient nutritional intake throughout the day to keep blood sugar balanced and avoid big spikes & crashes are key for improving metabolic fitness.

How Athletes Can Get It Wrong

For 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 carbs

Most 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.

Often times 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-workout

When 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 Athletes

Here 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 intake

The 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.


Using UCAN to Improve Metabolic Fitness

UCAN is a unique tool for any athlete seeking to improve their focus, performance and recovery through blood sugar control. The primary function of UCAN products with SuperStarch is to maintain stable blood sugar levels, a key pillar of metabolic fitness.

Here are a couple ways to think about how UCAN can support improving your metabolic fitness:

1. UCAN for Workouts

What to eat before a workout? You want something that won’t sit heavy in your stomach, but is also substantial enough to provide sustained energy. High-fiber foods like sweet potatoes or oatmeal may not spike your blood sugar, but you can experience GI issues having them too close to exercise. Training fasted may limit the duration and intensity of a workout due to low blood sugar and low fuel, especially for those early morning workouts.

A great solution to optimize metabolic fitness and exercise performance is a scoop of UCAN Energy Powder or a UCAN Energy Bar before your workout. UCAN delivers sustained energy for high-intensity and long duration workouts and keeps blood sugar stable, allowing you to maintain high fat-burning potential during your workout and limit cravings caused by low blood sugar after a workout.

2. UCAN for Daily Nutrition

Breakfast isn’t for everyone, but when you limit energy intake during the first half of the day it can lead to dips in blood sugar that can cause over-consumption or heightened cravings later on, leading to increased total calorie intake.

UCAN Protein + Energy is a breakfast option that gives you hours of stable blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar stable promotes mental focus and satiety, making UCAN the perfect way to start the day or balance your energy between meals.

By pairing physical activity with a nutrition plan that emphasizes blood sugar stabilization, athletes can set themselves up to realize all of the benefits of exercise and improve metabolic fitness.

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