By improving general (aerobic) endurance training, the size and the number of mitochondria and the concentration of oxidative enzymes inside muscle cells increases, increasing the ability of an athlete to use higher amounts of fat during physical activity. Athletes deposit more calories from fat than carbohydrates, increasing the ability to use fat causes a proportional reduction in reliance on carbohydrates, which increases endurance. To simplify, if you can burn more fat at a higher intensity of exercise, and that will make your carbohydrate reserves to last longer, thus improving your durability. It is important to note, however, that the oxidation of fat can not be improved to the extent that the need for carbohydrates (glycogen) is eliminated during intense exercise. Also, the increased ability of fat metabolism to obtain energy should not encourage athletes to increase proportionate fat intake. Assuming that the level of calorie intake is adequate, athletes can produce and store the fat they need, and higher fat intake is a clear risk factor for the appearance of atherosclerotic heart disease. Even a short-term increase in fat intake with associated carbohydrate intake of only 3 to 5 days causes a decrease in endurance parameters when compared with high carbohydrate intake capabilities.
There is contradictory evidence that oils of medium-chain triglycerides (fatty acid triglycerides containing 6 to 12 carbon atoms) may have some beneficial properties for athletes. Oils of medium-chain triglyceride is directly absorbed and quickly catabolized into fatty acids and glycerol. As it is easily and quickly oxidized to obtain energy, the medium chain triglyceride oil seems to be metabolized similarly to carbohydrates. There is also some evidence that this oil accelerates the depletion of fat from the depot, and it is also possible to increase the speed of combustion of energy materials (accelerates energy metabolism). In a study aimed at assessing the relative impact of carbohydrates versus the effect of carbohydrates in combination with medium-chain triglycerides oil on the parameters of the bicycle test, it has been shown that carbohydrates have led to improvements in the ability of the 100km, but that the addition of triglyceride oil medium-chains did not further improve sports results. Another study suggests that timing (selecting of the time interval) for the insertion of medium-chain triglycerides is an important factor in improving endurance. The introduction of 400ml medium-chain triglyceride oil solution (3.44%) before the race, with a 10% glucose dilution during the race, had an impact on improving the ability during riding chronometer. The conclusion was that glycogen consumption and increased fat retention (medium-chain triglyceride oil) were reduced due to the observed improvement in results. In contrast to the above-mentioned studies, the regular intake of the medium-chain triglycerides oil did not improve the parameters of endurance, nor did the energy metabolism of trained male runners change. In addition, there is evidence that the medium-chain triglyceride oil intake may adversely alter lipid levels in the blood, which should be seriously addressed when it comes to athletes who have a family history of heart disease.
Omega 3-fatty acid
In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the potential beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids on sports achievement. Potential benefits are:
- improved supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscles and other tissues due to reduced blood viscosity,
- improved aerobic metabolism due to increased supply of oxygen by cells,
- increased somatotropin secretion (growth hormone) in response to normal irritations such as exercise, sleep and hunger, which may have an anabolic effect or improve the recovery time after exercise,
- reduction of inflammatory processes caused by muscle fatigue and overload, which can improve the recovery time after exercise,
- possible prevention of inflammatory conditions.
In general, studies in the evaluation of the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids did not show consistent improvements in strength and endurance, nor are there any unambiguous evidence that omega-3 fatty acids relieve pain in the muscles. It seems that the main effect of consuming omega-3 fatty acids is the improvement of aerobic metabolic processes, which is an important factor for sporting results and for the ability of an individual to effectively burn fat as an energy substrate. This does not mean that the increase of total fat intake is desirable or necessary in order to achieve the mentioned beneficial effects. On the contrary, increased fat intake is typically associated with a reduction in sporting results. However, athletes may consider changing the type of fat they enter into nutrition by including periodic but regular (once or twice weekly) salmon, albacore tuna, Atlantic Herring and other cold-water fish in the amount of 110 to 140 grams would increase the share of omega-3 fatty acids at their disposal.
“Advanced Sports Nutrition” Dan Benardot