Muscle Sugar More Important Than Fluid for Endurance

How fast you can move and how long you can exercise intensely depends on the amount of sugar (glycogen) stored in your muscles. The same rule applies in all sports: when muscles run out of their stored sugar supply, they require more oxygen and you have to slow down.

Fluid is less important than muscle sugar because dehydration will not cause you to slow down until your blood volume is reduced. As you lose fluid from sweating, interstitial fluid stored around cells is released into the blood to maintain blood volume. When you compete is sports at a very high intensity, your muscles run out for stored sugar long before your blood volume is reduced, and you slow down from lack of muscle sugar before you slow down from reduced blood volume (Sports Medicine, April- May 2007).

Fuel for muscles comes from sugar and fat stored in muscles, sugar and fat in the bloodstream and, to a lesser degree, protein. When you start to exercise intensely, more than 50 percent of your energy comes from sugar stored in muscles. Two hours later, most of the sugar stored in muscles is used up and less than 10 percent of energy comes from that source. If you do not supply extra sugar during exercise so that your muscles will use less of their stored sugar, muscles run out of glycogen and your performance will suffer. More on hyponatremia


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