How Do Fats Help in Athletic Performance?

February 3, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Caroline Attwood

The macronutrient super stars of athletic performance are, unsurprisingly, carbohydrates and protein. Where protein is used to build and retain lean body mass as adaptation to training occurs, carbohydrates are used as the preferential fuel for that training. 

Glycolysis is the conversion of stored carbohydrates into usable energy and muscle protein synthesis is the process by which new muscle tissues are formed from circulating amino acids. Glycogen depletion is the most common cause of fatigue and output decline in athletes and muscle protein synthesis can only occur in response to an appropriately difficult stimulus. Meaning an athlete must be properly fueled (with carbohydrates) in order to output at a high enough level to elicit a muscle building response from dietary amino acids. To use an analogy, carbohydrates are like the construction workers and protein is like the lumber. It requires both labor and raw material to build a house.

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