The Scientific Rational for Metabolic Efficiency in Sports Performance and Life
By CEO Robert Forster, PT
Last week I was asked to present at the Olympic Trials Sports Science Symposium at the University of Iowa on the importance of metabolic efficiency in sport performance. Although this presentation was for elite wrestling coaches and other sport scientists, the principles are applicable for all active people. Whether your goal is to win your club tennis tournament, run a marathon, or just to lose a few pounds, metabolic efficiency and the ability to burn more fat for energy is critical.
When we are active, our muscles have two primary choices to energize the contractile machinery in the cell and create movement: fat or carbohydrate. Metabolic efficiency is defined as the ability of the muscle cell to use fat as its preferred fuel source as apposed to carbohydrates. Training and nutrition plans designed to create metabolic efficiency are the foundation for all advanced sport performance and for life because a more robust fat based metabolism benefits athletes and non-athletes alike in several key ways.
Fat Burns Clean to Limit Fatigue
When our muscles are trained to use fat for energy we experience less fatigue in our daily activities and our athletic pursuits. Conversely, if we are programmed to burn carbohydrate as the “go to” primary energy source, a natural byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism called lactic acid builds in the cell and causes fatigue as the cellular machinery begins to slow down and eventually stop altogether. Athletes who are trained to use a more favorable blend of fat/carb fuel for energy are better able to perform continuous activity with less fatigue. As an additional bonus, our fat burning muscle fibers use lactic acid as an energy source and prevents the accumulation of lactic acid in the cell and the associated fatigue that would otherwise ensue.
Creating a Virtually Unlimited Gas Tank
Even thin persons have enough fat to power their body for many hours of activity. If our musculoskeletal system could hold up to the stress we could all run 2 marathons back to back with the 80,000 calories we have in stored fat. Conversely, we are only able to store 2-3000 calories in stored carbohydrate. When athletes are trained to burn more fat for energy, they are able spare the limited carbs stored in their body and avoid a serious energy deficit (known as bonking) where the muscles just stop working for lack of fuel.
Becoming a “Better Butter Burner” Creates a Lean Body
When fat is the preferred energy source for your daily activities and for sport, the implications for a leaner body are significant. Sustainable weight management results when we exercise and eat to develop a “better butter burner” metabolism, which constantly taps our body fat for energy and keeps us lean. While this is essential for sports with weight classifications it is also important for cyclists, runners and other athletes who benefit from maintaining strength at the lowest possible body weight.
To learn more about how we use science based training to help our athletes achieve their lowest possible body weight while peaking their fitness for Olympic success please call 310-582-8212 or e-mail email@example.com to schedule a complementary phone or office consultation.)