All athletes know and have experienced that the amount of muscle glycogen storage is essential for the top athletic performance. Research shows that the level of glycogen storage in muscle is directly correlated with the onset of fatigue – the more glycogen you have in storage and longer you can work out without feeling fatigued. The highly trained athlete not only has potentially higher glycogen storages but also is able to synthesize and therefore recharge the storage more efficiently post-exercise.
You may ask – how does muscle glycogen storage get recharged? In order to quickly restore muscle glycogen after exercise, it is useful to know that muscle glycogen synthesis following glycogen-depleting exercise occurs in two phases. Initially, there is a period of rapid synthesis of muscle glycogen that does not require the presence of insulin. This phase lasts about 30–60 minutes. This rapid phase of muscle glycogen synthesis is characterized by an exercise-induced translocation of glucose transporter carrier protein-4 to the cell surface, leading to an increased permeability of the muscle membrane to glucose. This means that, after exercise, your muscle cells become more permeable to glucose and they can simply sponge up glucose without the help of insulin. Therefore, the more glucose circulating in your blood stream, the faster the glycogen gets synthesized and recharged.
Following this first rapid phase of glycogen synthesis, muscle glycogen synthesis occurs at a much slower rate and can last for several hours. In this second phase, insulin is required for the glycogen synthesis. Research has shown that insulin increases the activity of glycogen synthase, the enzyme that is essential for glycogen synthesis. Therefore, during this second phase, glucose is absolutely essential and serves two functions – to spike insulin (and therefore switches on the glycogen synthesis machinery in the body) and to supply the building blocks for the glycogen synthesis.
Furthermore, timing also matters in post-exercise muscle glycogen synthesis. Research shows that low muscle glycogen concentrations following exercise cause an increased rate of glucose transport and an increased capacity to convert glucose into glycogen. The highest muscle glycogen synthesis rates have been reported when large amounts of carbohydrate (1.0–1.85 g/kg/h) are consumed immediately post-exercise and at 15.60 minute intervals thereafter, for up to 5 hours post-exercise. When carbohydrate ingestion is delayed by several hours, this may lead to ∼50% lower rates of muscle glycogen synthesis.
Many athletes supplement large amount of amino acids and/or proteins thinking that the supplement would facilitate muscle glycogen synthesis. However, the addition of certain amino acids and/or proteins to a carbohydrate supplement may increase muscle glycogen synthesis rates, but only because the amino acid/protein increases insulin response. In fact, when carbohydrate intake is high (≥1.2 g/kg/h) and provided at regular intervals (which likely would max out the insulin response), the supplementation of protein and/or amino acids does not increase the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis. As amino acid or protein is not efficient in triggering insulin response, the most effective supplement benefiting post-exercise muscle glycogen synthesis is still carbohydrates.
Volumes of research suggest that carbohydrate availability is the main limiting factor for glycogen synthesis. There are a few factors limiting glucose availability post-exercise. First, a large part of the ingested glucose that enters the bloodstream appears to be extracted by tissues other than the exercise muscle (i.e. liver or other muscle groups) and may therefore limit the amount of glucose available to maximize muscle glycogen synthesis rates. Second, intestinal glucose absorption may also be a rate-limiting factor for muscle glycogen synthesis when large quantities (>1 g/min) of glucose are ingested following exercise. Therefore, in order to maximize the post-exercise glycogen synthesis, it is essentially to take carbohydrate supplement that can be readily and quickly absorbed into blood stream.
Energon Qube (EQ) Recover post-work gummy is designed to address the rate limiting factors and maximize the post-exercise muscle glycogen synthesis. Recover gummy contains high Glycemic Index carbohydrate complexes to quickly spike up blood glucose and insulin. In addition, SGC’s functional gummy delivery system (FGDS) taps into mucosal absorption avoiding the delay in digestive track absorption. Whatever you do post-exercise, the goal is to get as much glucose as possible into your blood stream as quickly as possible to pike up insulin and therefore maximize the glycogen synthesis.
Take EQ Recover gummies after a strenuous workout, they are good for you.
Journal Reference: Roy Jentjens, Asker E. Jeukendrup, Determinants of Post-Exercise Glycogen Synthesis During Short-Term Recovery, Sports Medicine 33(2), pp 117-144, February 2003
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