Chapter 4, Part 3:- Preparing The Body

Post Training / Post Match Carbohydrate Replacement

Directly following exercise you've about a 2 hour period in which to maximise the uptake of glycogen into the body, and hence increase the rate of glycogen replenishment throughout the body. This window of opportunity gradually reduces within this 2 hour period and so the sooner you eat the right carbohydrates, the quicker the recovery will be.

Following this 2 hour window of opportunity it's generally accepted that under optimal carbohydrate intake levels the rate of glycogen replenishment will be about 5% per hour. Thus, even under the best of circumstances, it requires at least 20 hours to re-establish glycogen stores after a glycogen depleting exercise bout. The emphasis here's on the word, " depleting ", as many sports people won't have completely depleted their glycogen stores, and so it'll take them less than 20 hours to re-establish glycogen stores.

During this 2 hour period directly following exercise glycogen replenishment will be greater than 5%, although it should be noted that a specific amount of glycogen uptake during this 2 hour period can't be given.

However, the sooner carbohydrates are consumed following exercise, the quicker the recovery will be, and the greater the glycogen replenishment will be, due to the increased sensitivity of the liver following exercise, and vice versa.

When the livers sensitivity is at its highest it'll recognise all incoming carbohydrates, whether in simple or complex form, and it 'll do its best to channel it in simple glucose units around the body, and then send the rest into storage through glycogenisis.

Therefore in terms of energy production for footballers, it's essential to consume carbohydrates that are as high up as possible on the glycaemic index in order to facilitate as much glycogen replenishment within this crucial 2 hour period directly following exercise as possible, and as quickly as possible. These foods include foods such as white bread, white pasta, etc.

The reason for consuming mainly high glycaemic carbohydrates during this 2 hour period, instead of moderate or low glycaemic carbohydrates, is that in order to facilitate glycogen replenishment the carbohydrates need to get into the system as quickly as possible.

The problem which arises with regards sports performance is regarding the choice of carbohydrates following training this 2 hour window of opportunity. Following this 2 hour period, in which carbohydrates replenish at such a slow and steady rate, it's then advisable to eat a mixture of foods, and moderate to low glycaemic index carbohydrates, as these'll then allow for a much more steady, and progressive rate of digestion, and hence provide a continuous uptake of carbohydrates, and other nutrients, ensuring that you get that glycogen replenishment of about 5% per hour, which'll happen to a lesser degree if you're still eating just high glycaemic foods.

It's important to note that a person’s glycogen reserves will be replenished more rapidly if the person remains inactive during the recovery period. Legumes, fructose and milk products should be avoided during the recovery period when the requirement is for rapidly replenishing glycogen reserves because of their slow rate of intestinal absorption.

Thank you for your time.