Bicycling (South Africa) - - Stories -

Yeah, yeah, it’s stored glu­cose (sugar) and car­bo­hy­drate your mus­cles use to make en­ergy. Here’s what you might not re­alise about this pre­cious fuel re­source, ac­cord­ing to Iñigo San Mil­lán, PhD, di­rec­tor of the Ex­er­cise Phys­i­ol­ogy and Hu­man Per­for­mance Lab­o­ra­tory in Boul­der, Colorado.

You burn at least 1 gram a minute while riding – at low in­ten­si­ties. At race pace, you’ll need to triple that.

You’ve got 400 to 500 grams fully stocked. That’s about 8400 kilo­joules’ worth. Eat 30 to 60 grams of carbs an hour – two PVM En­ergy Bars – on rides of more than three hours to stay fu­elled.

It stores with wa­ter. You stash 90ml wa­ter with ev­ery 30g glyco­gen, which is why you may gain 1 to 2 kilo­grams dur­ing a taper.

Fit rid­ers have big­ger fuel tanks. Trained mus­cles can hold about 32 grams of glyco­gen per 100g of mus­cle tis­sue. The same un­trained mus­cle holds just 13 grams. Mus­cles mis­fire with­out it.

Glyco­gen reg­u­lates mus­cle cal­cium func­tion, which you need for mus­cle con­trac­tion. When lev­els de­cline, so does power out­put.

Re­cov­ery = prime stor­age.

Dam­aged mus­cles don’t store glyco­gen well. Fail­ing to rest can cause you to tap into your pro­tein stores to fuel ef­forts, lead­ing to over­train­ing and poor per­for­mance.

You might be de­pleted.

San Mil­lán’s lab found that about 30 per cent of com­pet­i­tive cy­clists had sub­op­ti­mal glyco­gen stores. If you’re riding more than an hour a day, get about 5.5 to 9 daily grams of carbs per kilo­gram of body weight.

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