What does it do for your muscles and burning fat?
Understanding the relationship between carbohydrates and glycogen can help you respond better to the demands of your body. Sometimes the more active we become and cleaner with our nutrition your glycogen levels can find themselves in a deficit. When your glycogen is low and needs to be replenished we can appear leaner and tighter. However, mentally we may feel foggy and tired. Have you ever notice after eating unclean food, had an all out binge and woke up the next day feeling just as tight, you swear maybe even tighter? You think your eyes are playing tricks on you. This may actually be the case! That is likely because your glycogen levels were low and eating that rich food restored them, letting the body let go of retained water and provided the illusion of swelled muscles to gain that look of tightness. You may even have heard of some fitness athletes before a shoot will plan a couple glasses of wine and a sweet treat the night before. This is because in their final stages of prep they have depleted their carbs to extreme measures to shed those last few pounds. So, as a final push, they are trying to restore glycogen just enough to provide that desired tightness.
So What Is Glycogen?
It is a stored form of Carbohydrates and when in the body stored as glucose. So as you know we do not want to have an abundance of glucose, therefore we try to limited our intake to keep insulin levels balanced. However, Glycogen is rare because it takes this glucose and attaches itself together, making it more compressed and easier to store. Best part? It loves to store itself in the muscle. Therefore, it acts as a huge energy source for our always working muscles. However, because we need to maintain balance of how much energy we store versus how much we use we need to remember the following. Unused energy does remain stored as fat. So, if we require a depletion in Glycogen to help lose weight and we do this by reducing the amount of glucose, we limited our stored energy. Glycogen also requires water, therefore when you drink water it actually depletes the stored glycogen which helps with reducing body weight. This is important to know because Glycogen actually has nothing to do with the process of burning fat. It can help lose weight, however it is tightly link to weight related to water.
So When Does It Benefit Us To Restore Our Glycogen?
In low carbohydrate meal plans our body will likely let us know we need to restore it. We will be tired, foggy, cravings will be high and you may even notice it is harder for you to recover post workout. Some eating strategies like Carb-Cycling intentional deplete glycogen to help promote leaner physiques. Therefore, reducing our amount of stored glucose, in return glycogen. If we maintain high water intake our body will be eliminating any abundance of glycogen. In conclusion, this is one reason why Carb-Cycles or Prep Style of eating need to be short lived. To live a balance lifestyle and to keep ourselves in a hormonal state of balance we require energy from carbs but with a little altering here and there, we can use that stored energy to sustain clean eating to really tighten based on your body specifics. It can take a period of trial and error to see the signs that your food may be off balanced but if energy levels are very low, I would bet your glycogen is low. I suggest a good old sweet treat and wait and see what happens the next day! Fatigue is a clear sign that your Glycogen is depleted and it could just be time to give it a little kick! We do not want to sustain a depletion in glycogen because our body does need energy to survive.