Vifit sport energy range

As you may know, your body uses two main sources of fuel to create energy for you to be able to run, bike, swim, or do any other kind of sport: fat and carbohydrates (in the form of glucose). The higher the intensity of the exercise, the more energy, and thus the more fats and carbs your body uses. But maybe more importantly, with higher intensities, your body is more reliant on carbohydrates, and the relative contribution of fat decreases. This is because carbs can be turned into energy faster compared to fat, and therefore are a more efficient fuel for your body. Thus, if you want to go fast, your body really needs those carbohydrates!

There is one problem: whereas there is enough fat stored in the body to keep running for days, only a limited amount of carbs (in the form of glucose) can be stored in the body. This glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver (100 g) and the muscles (350 – 700 g), and is enough for only 45 – 90 min of moderate to high intensity exercise. Depleted glycogen stores can be experienced as ‘hitting the wall’ – the feeling of not having any energy left, which is definitely something you want to avoid! 

Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise

To make sure that sufficient carbs are available to be used as energy and subsequently maintain high intensity performance (going fast!), it is important to consume carbohydrates during exercise. The amount of carbs that you need depends on the duration of exercise. The table below gives an overview of the recommended carbohydrate intake for different exercise durations (these recommendations are for well-trained athletes. Less trained athletes may need to adjust these recommended values downwards). Here you can for example see that there is no need to take any carbs when exercising for less than 30 min, the glycogen stores in your body should be sufficient. However, when exercise takes longer than an hour you do want to take in some carbs, and higher carbohydrate intakes are needed with increasing exercise durations (up to 90 g/h for exercise than lasts longer than 2.5 h).


 

Carbohydrate intake recommendations during exercise for well-trained athletes. Adapted from Jeukendrup (2014).

*Single transportable carbohydrates: carbohydrates that only use one intestinal transporter. **Multiple transportable carbohydrates: a combination of carbohydrates that use different intestinal transporters, eg. glucose (SGLT1) + fructose (GLUT-5).

The recommendations given in this table are for well-trained athletes. Less trained athletes may need to adjust these recommended values downwards.

 Carbohydrate absorption

Then there is another problem: your body can only take up ~60 g/h of glucose. This is due to the fact that the transporters (kind of small trucks within the body) that transfer the glucose from the intestine into the body become saturated (fully loaded). When ingesting more, this will simply not be absorbed and the glucose will accumulate in the intestine. In the end this may result in gastrointestinal problems (something you definitely want to avoid, right?). The good news is that there is a way to bypass this problem and to increase the total carb absorption: adding a different type of carbohydrate that uses a different transporter in your intestine. You may have heard of the carbohydrate Fructose? Well, this is such a carbohydrate that is transferred from the intestine into your body via a different transporter, and thus can be absorbed while the other transporter is already fully loaded. This means that the combined ingestion of different types of carbohydrates that use different intestinal transporters results in increased intestinal carbohydrate absorption (up to ~90 g/h). Thereby glucose + fructose in the ratio of 2:1 has been shown to be one of the best combinations.

 

 

VifitSport energy range

The complete VifitSport energy range contain the carbohydrates glucose + fructose in the ratio of 2:1 (or come very close to this ratio) in order to maximize carb absorption and minimize gastrointestinal problems. In addition, the energy gels and bars all contain 30 g of carbs per serving. This makes your nutrition planning a whole lot easier: you can just take 1, 2, or 3 servings per hour, depending on the duration of your exercise (see table), without the need of figuring out how much carbohydrates different products contain and subsequently calculating the amount of product you then need (which can be a serious hassle, especially when doing long lasting events such as marathons or (half-distance) triathlons where nutrition planning is crucial). 

 Next to carbohydrates, other nutrients can be really useful as well, such as sodium and caffeine.

 Sodium

During exercise, body water is lost through sweat, and thereby also sodium is lost. This needs to be replaced in order to maintain the electrolyte balance in the body, and is especially important when sweat losses are high and exercise lasts for more than 2 h. In addition to just replacing losses, adding sodium has several other benefits: it improves water absorption in the intestines, it stimulates thirst resulting in a drive for you to continue drinking, and sodium helps to better retain the ingested fluids.  For these reasons 100 mg/serving of sodium is added to our energy gels and bars.   

Caffeine

It is likely that the first thing you do in the morning is drink a cup of coffee to get the day started. But did you know that caffeine can also improve your exercise performance? Caffeine results in a reduction in perception of effort and pain, and research has shown that ingesting caffeine resulted in faster time trial performances! So, it can be useful to use caffeine supplements, for example before a hard training session or before races.

 Next to normal energy gels, we also have caffeinated energy gels in the VifitSport range that contain 50 mg caffeine (similar to a small cup of coffee). As it takes some time before the caffeine is completely absorbed in the body, it is probably wise to take the caffeinated gels 40 – 60 min before the race or important training session. When you have a long race you can also take the caffeinated gels during the race, for example 40 – 60 min before the important, often decisive parts of the race (just like the pro’s of Team LottoJumbo do!). However, be a bit cautious with taking too much caffeine, especially when you are not used to it, as this can cause side effects such as a headache, anxiety, dizziness, and nausea. 

A little trick: the caffeinated gels are slightly bigger than the regular gels, this way you can easily feel which gel you need to grab from your back pocket when you are cycling!

 

So you got it ! Carbohydrate intake during exercise is important to make sure that your muscles have enough energy to maintain endurance performance, especially when exercise durations are more prolonged. Thereby it is optimal to include a combination of different types of carbohydrates that use different transporters in the intestine. For example, glucose + fructose in a ratio of 2:1 has been shown to be very effective. In addition, adding sodium can be helpful to replace losses through sweat and caffeine can give you just that little extra to perform at your maximum level!  

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