Thursday, April 8, 2010

High Carb Intake After Intense Resistance Training Increases Inflammation

A study in this month's European Journal of Applied Physiology has shown that consuming a high carbohydrate diet soon after an intense weight training session results in more of an elevation of various inflammatory markers than does consuming a low carbohydrate diet.  I only have access to the abstract, so I do not know how the researchers defined the high carb and low carb diets, but I think it's safe to say that people may want to think twice about downing a high sugar "recovery" drink after a strength training session. 

Regardless of diet, moderate to intense exercise causes some degree of inflammation and oxidative stress.  It's been shown that the body produces endogenous anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant factors to deal with these events.  And it's obvious that these factors do their jobs well since physical activity is almost always associated with beneficial effects on health and not with inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.  But could a high-carbohydrate intake interfere with the body's natural defenses against exercise-induced physiological stress?  This study suggests that it very well could but more research needs to be done before we can say for sure.


Anonymous said...

I've read that the post-training inflammatory response is linked to (and perhaps part of what spurs on) beneficial adaptations to training. (I'd provide a citation if I had one... other than "The Deep Recesses of My Aging Mind".)

Based on that, I'm wondering whether the "extra" inflammation from post-workout CHO might not be, on balance, a good thing?

LynMarie Daye said...

That's interesting and it's certainly within the realm of possibility. This study is far from the final word on the subject.

When something increases inflammation, I personally get a little concerned. I exercise regularly and have for years, but I'm not competitive or trying to look like a fitness model. My primary reason is to be physically well and strong for as long as possible. Maybe increasing inflammation by consuming a lot of carbs after working out will turn out to be a good thing but I'd rather err on the side of caution for now. That's not to say that I eat no carbs after a workout - I do; I just don't have any sugar. Again, I have to stress that my goals are simply health and general fitness. Not consuming a lot of carbohydrates post-workout doesn't seem to have any negative effect on my recovery or subsequent workouts. Someone training competitively may need to eat a lot of post-workout carbohydrates to keep training and competing to reach the level of fitness they aspire to. They may be taking a chance with their long-term health; my blog post was written to make people aware so that they can make an informed decision.

Thanks for reading. Your comment is very thought-provoking!

Anonymous said...

oh! post-workout is the only occasion when i consume high-carb ("leangains" method)

LynMarie Daye said...

I wouldn't worry about it too much. There's still a lot to be learned about this. The first Anonymous' comment brings up some good points. My personal bias is against sugar (fructose) so I don't consume much of it. If I feel the need to consume carbs after a workout, I eat a small baked potato. That seems to do the trick for me, but as I said before, I don't exercise as intensely as an athlete does. I understand that fructose can refill glycogen stores better than glucose, but I exercise mainly for health, so in that vein, I forgo the fructose and go with the glucose. I have more peace of mind doing that.