SWORD 101 | 04. Carbohydrates

Diet preferences come and go. They reflect our changing understanding of how the body works. Which is the right diet for athletes? Ketogenic Diet? Fat Adaptation? Paleo? Carbohydrate Loading?

The simple answer is that there is no single diet that is right for every athlete in every situation. Diets are as specific to athlete and event as training is. Your diet should follow your physiology and the specifics of your goal event. The key to unlocking your dietary needs is having the right tools and practicing with them, making small changes along the way; ultimately increasing your performance. SWORD®  is designed to be that carbohydrate tool during training and competition; with flexible concentrations, so you can modify as you improve. Pushing your performance further, increasing your fuel, working harder. This way you can control your carbohydrate needs and how a fuel source like SWORD®  works into your existing regimen. Many athletes still have questions about our newly developed fuel source and how carbohydrates in general play a role in their diet.

There are some misunderstandings about the role of carbohydrate in exercise, so let’s break it down. Carbohydrate is one of the three classes of macronutrients fuels used by your muscles to perform work. Of the three, it is the primary fuel source your body goes to when it needs energy. It is also used by many other organs in your body and is the preferred fuel for your brain. 

Carbohydrates in its most basic form known as glucose, is stored in relatively limited amounts in the body as free floating in your bloodstream (blood sugar). As the body's fast-acting fuel source for on demand actions, we've developed ways to temporarily hold onto this glucose in localized environments where they can be called into action at a moment’s notice. Places like the surrounding muscle tissue and in the liver as glycogen.

During increasingly hard work, your muscles consume progressively more carbohydrate to the point that at higher intensities, carbs become the primary fuel for working muscle. At the same time, your brain continues to consume carbohydrate setting up a tug of war between the muscle and brain for your body’s limited supply of blood sugar. This can contribute to fatigue, particularly in longer events, and there are literally hundreds of well-performed experiments which demonstrate carbohydrate’s ability to delay that fatigue and improve performance. The challenge has been how to interpret all the scientific research and taking into consideration real-world application, how to create the right carbohydrate fuel source to delay fatigue. That is why we have carbohydrate in SWORD® , but not just any carbohydrate, well characterized and understood carbohydrates. Our founders did some of the ground-breaking research on these carbohydrates and from that developed the unique concentrations and natural sources allowing the body a new level of fatigue resistance and performance improvement.

In order for consumed carbohydrate to be of any benefit, it must get out of your stomach and into your bloodstream where it can be used by the brain and muscles. The two sources of carbohydrate in SWORD® is designed to do just that by purposely taking advantage of two different carbohydrate transport mechanisms found in the gastrointestinal tract to move them into the bloodstream. We have chosen to combine a specific plant strain maltodextrin starch with '3F' [Full Fruit Fiber] fructose to take advantage of these carbohydrate transporters; avoid the excessive sweetness of too much simple sugar; and keep the osmolality of the drink well below that of blood.

The amount of carbohydrate in SWORD® was also carefully considered. Too much and the drink becomes too sweet and difficult to absorb, leading to increased GI distress. Too little and you’re not delivering enough carbohydrate to provide a significant benefit to increase endurance. Our research and athlete feedback leads us to believe that we have hit the "sweet spot."  Our 6% carbohydrate solution delivers about 60 grams of carbohydrate in every liter of SWORD® consumed. That is enough to make SWORD® the only carbohydrate source you need to consume during a race – or it can be used in smaller quantities and combined with other sources (food, gels, etc…) if you prefer.

Carbohydrate is an important fuel source to support hard work. Numerous studies have demonstrated its ability to improve performance and delay fatigue; some our founders were directly involved in. We've created a combination of carbohydrates that act as relentless work fuel. A unique combination that keeps your brain and muscles happy; your stomach quiet and calm; all from natural sources with flavors your taste buds will appreciate. What we've created is a tool. Use it to your liking during your training and competition. Join the wave of athletes who have found with SWORD® , they're capable of more.

This is the fourth installment in our Sword 101 series. Read about Osmolality next.   

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