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Alternatives To Gluconeogenesis For Rebuilding Post Workout Glycogen Levels

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
May 23, 2013
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Dr. Cordain,

Hello there. I am sure you receive a generous amount of email, so I will not waste time with small talk and hope you actually get this email.

Long story short: I earned my undergraduate in nutrition from University Nevada Reno in 2003. I left the world of academia with my general understanding of nutrition and felt ready to conquer the world of unhealthy eating ha! I have been doing a bit of research on The Paleo Diet as well as some others. I have been attempting to try out The Paleo Diet on myself as a sort of experiment. I had actually stopped eating grains for the most part about 5yrs ago, so it hasn't been that difficult. What I am ultimately wondering is whether gluconeogenesis via the use of protein aka amino acids is an efficient way to rebuild muscle glycogen (well liver glycogen and then to muscles). I just don't want to be turning my wheels in the gym. It seems like maybe my body will adapt, but I have felt so fatigued at gym. I bonk within the first 15-20 min. Maybe I should add more carbs but it is difficult to know which carbohydrates I can eat. I'm not going to lie, I kind of want to just go eat a bowl of dairy filled ice cream and quickly revamp my glycogen. I am sure you are busy, but any help or resources would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Shilo

Dr. Cordain's Response:

Hi,

Building glucose and then glycogen via gluconeogenesis is a very inefficient pathway. A better strategy is to obtain your carb stores as Joe Friel and I have outlined in our newly revised 2012, The Paleo Diet for Athletes. This book describes how Paleo foods such as sweet potatoes, yams, bananas, fresh fruit, fruit juices and dried fruit are both Paleo friendly and help to restore muscle glycogen. Additionally, we describe how to top off muscle glycogen before, during and after workouts and competition. Finally, by eliminating grains and refined carbs, you will force your body's metabolic machinery to rely more upon stored intramuscular triglyceride (IMT) which will increase beta oxidation of IMT, which is a highly labile source of ATP during exercise. Higher muscle concentrations of IMT "spare" muscle glycogen and actually allow you additional time before muscle glycogen stores are depleted causing you to bonk. Many high level endurance athletes have successfully employed "Paleo" to improve performance.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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