Friday, February 24, 2012

Optimized Fat Metabolism (OFM) Part 4: Glucose Dependency

Signs your body is dependent on Glucose
The last post on Glucose Partitioning laid out the basic physiology of how the body deals with the literal “flood” of sugar into the bloodstream. Today’s short post helps you to identify if that flood is compromising your performance as an athlete as well as your overall health.

There are several easy ways to tell if you are dependent upon glucose for the majority of your energy needs. Here are some possible telltale signs

1.       You are “hungry” every couple of hours and need to eat something
2.       You need to eat and/or have coffee first thing in the morning
3.       You have to eat before exercise
4.       You are really hungry after exercise
5.       For prolonged physical activity you have to eat or else you will “bonk” (i.e. Hit the wall)
6.       In the days following and endurance event you are constantly hungry
7.       Your body won’t release any excess body fat
8.       Erratic HR patterns
9.       Asthma, breathing problems or easily triggered allergic reactions
10.   Itchy, red skin or eczema

While there are other factors which can be the cause of the above symptoms if you are showing most or all of the above signs you are probably dependent upon glucose (blood sugar), glycogen and exogenous intake of carbs to supply most of your energy needs. Monitoring Blood glucose and/or having a glucose tolerance test (not fasting glucose) will confirm this because, ironically, having chronically elevated glucose, thus insulin resistance, makes the body dependent upon glucose.

Factors Which Drive Glucose Dependency
1.       A diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat; i.e. A “Healthy” Diet
2.       A diet high in processed foods, especially those with lots of carb calories, preservatives and/or commercial vegetable oils (i.e. corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil) which use high temps and pressures to produce.
3.       Overtraining (cortisol)
4.       No warm-up and always training at a high intensity.
5.       Lack of sufficient sleep and downtime
6.       Overuse of stimulants like caffeine
7.       Disruptions in Circadian rhythm (elevated cortisol)
8.       Stress (elevated cortisol)
9.       Frequent doses of antibiotics
10.   Thyroid issues

If any of the above corresponds to your situation you may want to seriously consider changing the way you eat, train and live so your body burns primarily “fat as your fuel”.  OFM/VESPA offers the athlete an individualized, science-based approach.