Most people go light on complex carbs thinking they cause weight gain. Pasta, Rice, Potatoes, bread, corn and other starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and other roots.
So instead they go heavy on protein, and fry it or add creamy sauces. Or pancakes and syrup, which is more sugar and flour than anything else.
Our muscles crave carbohydrates, to pack them full of glycogen, which provides the fastest combustion for energy. When depleted, protein and fat is used, but both take extra water and breakdown steps, and are used slowly. The classic look of people who are tired. Slow and lethargic.
The test of a balanced set of athletes who continued training says it all. All were very close in an exercise to exhaustion test prior to the cutover to precisely controlled diets. So they likely all had similar diets going in.
But after 7 weeks of continued identical training, but diet groups of 50% fat, 25% protein, 25% carbs; balanced; and 80% carbs, 10% fat and 10% protein.
Monitored exercise to exhaustion tests to ensure training heart rates were level across all groups, after the 7 weeks showed dramatic effects of the diets.
high fat, just under one hour endurance balanced, 1 3/4 hours endurance very high carb, about 3 1/4 hours endurance.
Putting the low performing sets on high carbs and continuing training for one more week, then repeat the same test, the two groups each improved about 15%, buts were still no where near the 3 hour performances of the group on the continuous high carb diet.
By training, the muscles recharge their glycogen and store excess in forms readily converted back to glycogen, not as fat. To burn large amounts of fat takes 1) longer term exercise sessions, and 2) carbs. Without the high carb base, people will be tired when their glycogen is low or gone. They will not and can not push past that effectively.
My own diet is more likely about 80% carbs, 15% protein, 5% fat. I'm still extremely sensitive to any dietary fat, which causes chest pain. I had pain for about 4 hours some weeks ago after a seemingly innocuous chicken lunch I thought met my low fat criteria. But using nitro spray every 15 minutes while on the road says differently. It finally went away when I got home and had my pomegranate juice and some oregano tea.
The volleyball group I play with are curious how I can be 50% to almost triple their age and have as much or more energy for longer than they can. Plus I may row an hour in the morning before I play, 4 to 6 hours, nearly continuous.
In the McArdle book I have, it is referenced and the results reviewed in Chapter 1, the section on Carbohydrate Dynamics in Exercise, pages 15-18. The comprehensive research study cited is from a Scandinavian physiology journal, circa 1967 (1967;71:140), titled "Diet, Muscle Glycogen, and Physical Performance. Authors listed as Bergstrom J, et al.
Book is fifth edition of Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance, by McArdle, Katch, and Katch. 2001.
My energy level definitely stands out when the other 30 people playing volleyball, no matter the outside temperature all take breaks between and I stay fresh as a daisy, though sweating not quite as much as a from a Spring shower.
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