Strategic Carbs during Competitions and Training

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Strategic carbs during Races and High training loads

A key aspect to understand is that Insulin remains dormant during exercise. This means that there is no insulin response to ingested carbohydrate so it therefore does not inhibit fat oxidation. OFM still recommends A minimum time frame of 40 – 60mins of activity in order to ensure that the pancreas does not respond to any glucose intake.

During Endurance Training:

For most of the training, an athlete should try to use minimal caloric intake to help “train” the body to burn fat for fuel for OFM. This does not mean no carbs or waiting until you absolutely need them but it does mean stretching them out a bit to help the body adapt. For endurance events where a tempo or high intensity race simulation training run is in order then use carbohydrate sources that work for YOU during the activity like you would in competition Once the athlete has warmed up properly.

During competition:

This is the time where carbohydrates can be used without restriction to take full advantage of them. Use sources you are familiar with and work for your situation even if it means breaking your normal OFM dietary rules. So, if you find pretzels work well, go for it! The warm up structure is very important on race day. It is during the warm that the fat burning engine gets the chance to get things going before the athlete drops the hammer at the starters gun.

Also keep in mind even under race conditions of high intensity athletes find the amount of carb calories ingested is significantly lower and there is an absence of stomach and gut issues.

Here are a few tips for “strategic” use during competition:

  • Consider taking in calories strategically rather than by time for other types of races ….eg if you are competing in an event where you know you have a big extended climb coming up take, say a gel, 10-15 minutes before hitting that climb so the blood sugar rise from the gel coincides with the extra effort of the climb.
  • Use a formulated rate and time of taking in calories, for competitions where the athlete is in a state of metabolic homeostasis, i.e. a track run or flat terrain 
  • Take extra calories in the cold and especially cold & wet moist conditions to maintain core body temps
  • Back off on calories and focus on hydration in the heat (see section above on Hydration)
  • Race hungry! Trust your fat burning to prevent the bonk and fuel on the lighter side and/or spread it out.
  • Never ingest a lot of calories, including fats and protein, at one time during competition. It is better to keep it lite.
  • Allow at least an hour to two to “settle in” before starting a feed of calories to get thoroughly warmed up and in a metabolic fat-burning groove. Depending on the competition you may start earlier if the intensity is higher or wait a bit if you are competing in an extended duration event like a 100 Mile Run or Double Century or Ironman.
  • Take a VESPA CV-25 45-60 minutes prior to the start but then take a VESPA Junior within minutes of the start. This will not only “front-load” you with VESPA but the little bit extra Orange juice calories in the Junior will give you a fast acting sugar to help you in those 20 minutes after the start where you are going to burn a bit more glucose. If you are competing in a Triathlon use the VESPA Junior at T1 & T2 as a boost .
  • Always do a Long Slow Warmup (LSW) . This is key for fat adapted athletes because you need to prime the muscles with oxygen so they can metabolize aerobically. Start easy and do at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of a competition and allow time after the start before hammering.
  • Ingestion of carbohydrates can be done strategically  or by using a formulated rate and time
  • For competitions such as a track run or flat terrain use a formulated rate and time of taking in calories,
  • For other types of races consider taking in calories strategically, so if you are competing in an event where you know you have a big extended climb coming up take, say a gel, 10-15 minutes before hitting that climb so the blood sugar rise from the gel coincides with the extra effort of the climb.
  • This concept would also apply if there was a section of a competition where you wanted to throw down and compete hard or kick for home.
  • If it is hot make sure you also take in some salt and start sipping on water so that your muscles can sweat and thus cool the extra energy produced by the higher effort.
  • HEAT: In the heat your ability to digest is extremely limited so reduce your caloric intake to a fraction of what you would normally consume and focus on hydration. Often simple sugars with water and electrolytes works best under such conditions.
  • Always be adaptable to shifting conditions and situations and adjust accordingly.
  • Be flexible in what you can ingest as calories. Naturally, use what works for you!

An OFM/VESPA athlete does not need to consciously restrict themselves during a competition because there are too many more important things to consider and focus on. When an athlete is well adapted their stomach and gut can generally take a hit of crap and use it as fuel. While there are exceptions (like if an athlete has had Celiacs, IBS etc.) this freedom allows an endurance athlete to focus, compete, cruise into an Aid Station or Transition, grab whatever looks good, wash it down with a swig of Coke and get back to business rather than fret over finding their drop bag and special sauce, lose focus and stress (read Cortisol response) because they are lost without it.