Hypoglycemia: Why Training on Empty Can Hurt Your Performance
- 1 Feb 2017
Low blood sugar is never fun. Not only will it cause you to hit a wall during exercise, but it can also make you feel like you literally hit a wall - blurred vision, lightheadedness, nausea, the general feeling that you might suddenly pass out are just some of the symptoms of low blood sugar, also known as “hypoglycemia.“
There are a number of factors why hypoglycemia kicks in during exercise, and while research still does not definitively know why it affects some athletes more than others, many of these causes can be prevented and remedied by using a carbohydrate rich sports fuel like INFINIT.
Just as we believe no two athletes are the same, there is no universal method to avert or combat low blood sugar, but here are a few tips worth sharing from our partners at U.S. Masters Swimming:
Sugar is Not the Enemy
Despite the bad press that our sweet friend has gotten recently thanks to the US obesity epidemic, cane sugar has been safely consumed by humans for centuries, and sugars from honey and fruit have been an integral part of the human diet for millennia. In fact, our bodies prefer to use sugar as energy to fuel athletic efforts, and using drinks sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, or acesulfame K simply won’t give you the same results. Artificial (and natural in the case of stevia) non-nutritive sweeteners produce a sweet taste, but with no caloric value, they are worthless to your active body.
Type of Carbohydrate Matters
Make sure you’re taking in the proper amount of carbohydrates, complex and simple, both of which are found in our Custom and Preset mixes.Sucrose in the form of pure cane sugar is a simple carb and is a concentrated and efficient source of energy. We also use pure powdered glucose (dextrose) as a second source of simple, easily absorbed carbohydrate in our fuel blends. If you are interested about Custom sports fuel, but don't know where to start, our U.S. Masters Swimming Formulas are perfect to test the waters (so to speak).
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 37% of American adults cannot swim the length of a pool. Every day, about 10 people die from drowning. INFINIT is proud to be teaming up to help support the U.S. Masters Swimming Save Lives Foundation which advocates and helps to raise awarness about accidental drowning, and serves as a resource for programs providing adult learn-to-swim lessons. Proceeds of each U.S. Masters Formula will be donated to the Swimming Save Lives Foundation.
What sets INFINIT apart from a lot of the big sports drinks out there is our use of a complex carbohydrate called “maltodextrin.” Maltodextrin accounts for the majority of the carbohydrate content in many of our mixes - this allows us to have similar carb content as the gas station sports drinks, but use about half the sugar! Maltodextrin provides the glucose your body needs, but the body breaks it down and absorbs it more slowly, so it provides a more sustained form of energy to your muscles.
Don't Go into a Workout with an Empty Tank
Make sure you fuel before the workout. You don’t need to cram down a bunch of food prior to training, but have a little something to top off those glycogen stores. On top of that, many of us do our workouts in the morning. If you’re doing an early morning training session, your pre-workout fueling is even more important.
Whether you like to mix up a cup of MUD in the morning, or you sip on some lower calorie HYDRATE or your own lighter Custom Blend on your way to the gym, taking in carbs prior to your AM workout is vital to getting the most out of your training. Our glycogen stores can become depleted during the overnight fast, so top off your tank with a little something before your early morning training. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be the biggest.
Prepare for Your Next Workout by Recovering from your Last
Ensure you take in the proper amount of nutrition during and after your workout. If you want to maintain a steady blood glucose level while training or on race day, maintaining adequate amounts of glycogen in the muscle and liver is key. Once you’ve finished dominating your workout, you need to restore that glycogen with adequate carbohydrates, and help your body synthesize muscle with high-quality protein. Recovery drinks, like :REPAIR, are an easy way to get all the post-workout nutrition you need to accomplish this, plus it helps you start rehydrating and gearing up for your next workout.
Laura Hering, RDN
For more information on this topic, we recommend Swimming on Empty: Masters swimmers prone to low blood sugar in the pool can find the sweet spot for their training by Jim Thornton (printed in Jan-Feb 2017 edition of SWIMMER)