Judith Haudum

Why Energy Intake Matters During Training and It Doesn't Work to Compensate Later

Every athlete has had a training session at some point where the energy intake was insufficient. Sometimes it happens unintentionally, but there are also days when you realize it and say: Not enough today, I'll just eat more carbohydrates afterward to make up for the shortfall. The problem with this: It doesn't change the results of the training supported by inadequate energy.

If you forget to add the yeast to the dough, it will not rise.
Forgetting a crucial ingredient in the recipe will yield a different result.

Have you ever baked bread or cake? Then you know what the result looks like when you forget the yeast and only realize it when you take the cake/bread out of the oven. You can still bake the dough, but it won't rise. You can spread the yeast on the dough later, but it won't change the result. The bread/cake will be flat, hard, and heavy. The same thing happens to our muscles when we don't supply enough carbohydrates during training.

Your muscles need carbohydrates during training
Energy intake during training prevents rapid fatigue and enhances training quality.

I would say about 95% of athletes who come to me for nutritional counseling have inadequate fueling during training. Most of them only drink water. However, carbohydrates play a crucial role in sports. They are the preferred energy source for our muscles, delay fatigue, and are important for long and/or intensive sessions. There is a reason why we should consume carbohydrates during training. Without sufficient energy intake, your performance will decline more quickly, meaning you will complete fewer repetitions than with higher energy intake, and your pace will slow down because your glycogen stores will deplete earlier. At the same time, the perception of effort will change during training, and the exercise will feel more challenging.

You can still eat the recovery shake or recovery meal and double the carbohydrate amount. However, the carbohydrates you consume then will not change [improve] the quality and performance you achieved in the previous training. Your muscles needed the energy when they were working, not after the work was done. Therefore, to get the best result, make sure you fuel your training with energy. The better the training quality, the better the result.

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