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Workout Smarts

How research can build your body

By Wina Sturgeon
Posted // August 7,2012 -

Have you ever wished you could get personalized fitness facts without paying for a trainer? Have you ever wanted to know more about a training topic than you can find even with an online search?

If so, then the Eccles Health Sciences Library (10 N. 1900 East, No. 589, 801-581-5534. Library.Med.Utah.edu), in Salt Lake City, is your paradise. You don’t even have to be a student of the U’s medical school to use it. The studies you can pull up on this library’s computers aren’t published for the general public, so you’ll find some of them online only. The studies available at Eccles are the newest and are on the cutting edge of science. Of course, peer studies are written in medical language, which is often hard for the lay person to understand. If you are checking out research studies for the first time, ask your doctor for advice to make sure you’re interpreting everything correctly before making any changes to your fitness routine.

“We have very qualified staff and librarians who can help you find information and studies on whatever topic you’re looking for. Our primary clientele are medical, science, nursing, pharmacy and health students,” says head librarian Jeanne Le Ber.

Le Ber or one of her co-workers will set you up at a computer, create a free guest account, log you in and be there for any questions. The best part? You can print out any study (or studies) you want, for 10 cents a page.

I recently visited to research a subject with many myths: the effects of carbohydrates during and after exercise, like “energy” drinks of brightly colored liquid or little packs of tan goo.

I walked out a few hours later with 21 up-to-date studies, a thick file of paper that cost less than $20. Before getting into things learned from that research, some very simplified background. Both the muscles and the brain run on two types of what is essentially sugar: glucose and glycogen. Glucose is blood sugar. It’s “stored,” mostly in the liver, in the form of glycogen, which is then used for energy. But if the body’s storage capacity is filled, the excess glycogen is stored as fat. Consistent exercise will expand the storage capacity, which is why very active people are seldom overweight. The ability to store more glycogen means you can put out more effort before “bonking”—hitting the performance wall—physically or mentally.

Now, on to interesting conclusions from some of the studies, listing authors and the journals in which they published, with explanations in parentheses.

1. What you eat after a workout is important; eat carbs with protein to restore muscle glycogen. “... the addition of protein to a carbohydrate supplement will enhance the rate of muscle-glycogen restoration post-exercise and may involve facilitation of the glucose transport process (the transportation of glucose throughout the body, including to the cells).” Hara, Morrison, Ding, Ivy; Metabolism Journal.

2. Don’t exercise hard before a test or other brain burden. “... this is the first study to our knowledge to show that brain glycogen can decrease with prolonged exercise. These findings may provide a clue towards understanding the mechanisms related to central fatigue.” Matsui, S. Soya, Okamoto, Ichitani, Kawanaka, H. Soya; Journal of Physiology.

3. You’ll lose more fat exercising on an empty stomach. “... frequent training in a low-glycogen state results in improved fat oxidation (burn) during steady-state (repetitive) submaximal (low effort) exercise.” Philip, Hargreaves, Baar; American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology & Metabolism.

4. Speed up recovery and glycogen restoration after exercise by eating dairy products or fructose. “… when ingested at a rate designed to saturate intestinal CHO (carbohydrate) transport systems, MD (maltodextrin) drinks with added fructose or galactose (dairy products such as milk) were twice as effective as MD plus glucose in restoring liver glycogen during short-term post-exercise recovery.” Decombaz, Jentjens, Ith, Scheurer, Buehler, Jeukendrup, Boesch; American College of Sports Medicine.

The library allows you to look up the latest studies on diet or exercise and to learn some really big words as well. Call in advance to check that a guest computer will be available.

 
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