Glycogen: The key to unlocking your performance

by SwimSwam 9

January 12th, 2016 Lifestyle, Opinion, Training

Courtesy of AthleticFoodie, a sports performance company that helps athletes unlock their potential

Written by Cristina Caldwell and Garrett Weber-Gale

Glycogen is another name for carbohydrates. It is really just stored carbohydrates in the liver, and in your muscles. Your body only has a set amount of glycogen in storage, and when it’s depleted, you’ll feel like you’ve “hit the wall.” I’m sure you’ve had that feeling, you’re in the main part of your workout, and all of a sudden your body has no more power. It’s as if you just don’t have any energy left. This is your body telling you it needs to be refueled. Just as a car needs gas, your body needs glycogen.

Types of Carbohydrates:

Simple:  Simple sugars are found in fruits, dairy products, and products like sports drinks, granola, and energy bars. Some simple sugars are natural, while others, like sports drinks, have added sugars.

  • Simple sugars are great to have within 60 minutes before a workout, during a workout, and in the 60 minutes following a workout.
  • These sugars provide fast acting energy that your muscles will use to fuel your training and racing.
  • Post workout or race, your muscles will be re-fueled quickly and you’ll be ready to go for your next race, or training session.
  • It’s important to watch our food intake of added sugars when we’re not pre, during or post-workout. Eating fruit and dairy throughout the day is fine, as these simple sugars are natural, and contain other important nutrients.

Complex: Complex carbohydrates are starches like whole grains, beans, vegetables and peas.

  • Focus on having complex carbohydrates for every meal other than pre, during and post workout. You can have a mixture of simple and complex carbohydrates for your everyday meals, but the emphasis should be on complex carbohydrates.
  • Complex carbohydrates provide long-term fuel for energy, fiber, and will help your body’s metabolism stay steady.
  • Complex carbohydrates contain fiber, which takes longer to breakdown, and can leave you feeling full, causing some athletes to experience stomach discomfort during workouts.


Athletic Foodie, AthleticFoodieSimple carbohydrates:

1.      AthleticFoodieTM granola
2.      Banana
3.      Sports drink
4.      AthleticFoodieTM energy chews
5.      Bagel
6.      Applesauce
7.      Fruit smoothie

Complex carbohydrates:

1.      Whole grain bread
2.      Brown Rice
3.      Quinoa
4.      Black beans, Pinto Beans, Kidney Beans
5.      Peas
6.      Broccoli
7.      Lentils

Take Away:  It’s important to eat a mixture of simple and complex carbohydrates.

  • When you’re close to a race or workout, aim to consume simple sugars.
  • These are fast acting and gives your body the quick fuel it needs.

When you are outside of your practice or meet window, focus on a combination of natural simple sugars (fruit and dairy) and complex carbohydrates, as these will provide long lasting energy and fiber to keep you feeling full.
At AthleticFoodieTM, we believe food is the key to unlocking your performance, which is why we make snacks specifically designed to help you swim fast. For more information, visit

Author Cristina Caldwell

Cristina Caldwell works with AthleticFoodie to create useful nutrition information for athletes and parents. Cristina is a former Div. 1 swimmer at Miami University, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist, and is the founder of Fueled and Focused. She works one on one with youth and adult athletes, and has a customized meal plan service designed to provide athletes with fueling guidelines for peak performance. To learn more about her services or to sign up for a customized meal plan, go to

About Garret Weber-Gale, the AthleticFoodie

Snack SwimSwam ShotIn 2005, Garrett was diagnosed with dangerously high blood pressure, and was almost forced to give up his Olympic dream. Luckily, a small dose of medication, and a total revamp in his diet saved his dream and put the Olympics back in sight. Garrett began to see the direct connection between what he put into his body, and what he could get out of it.

After his diagnosis with high blood pressure, Garrett made it his mission to learn how to make healthy food taste great. He’s traveled the world working in famous restaurant kitchens in Italy, France, Copenhagen, Spain, and New York City. Garrett has taken his knowledge and experience from all over the world, and shared it with others through speeches at the White House, to schools, sports teams, TEDx, universities, TV and radio appearance, cooking classes, authored articles and AthleticFoodie Events.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
6 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Bagels are junk. They are high in processed white flour, contain no fiber, protein, or micro nutrients. Bagels are loaded in sodium, and high on the glycemic index. Put on some cream cheese and you’ve got one of the worst foods you can put in your body as you’ve added saturated fat and about 500 empty calories total per bagel.

No one should eat bagels.

Becky D

What everyone needs when evaluating diet: hyperbole. Thanks for that little nugget of wild exaggeration.


Johnny –

Go to Murray’s Bagels on 8th btw 22nd and 23rd and get an everything bagel with a good veggie smear and tell me that doesn’t change your life. I’d fill a tub up with their bagels and bath in the glory if I could.

bagel god

just because one bagel has hurt your feelings doesnt mean all bagels are bad. i hope one day you can open yourself back up to the bagel life.




A bagel has about ten grams of protein. It took me almost 10 seconds to discover this using a search engine called google. You are probably wrong about everything else you wrote too.


Better off eating a donut instead.

Salman Rushdie

Robert Hughes, Time magazines’s art critic, told me on the phone that after he saw the planes flying over SoHo he had walked around in shock. On his way home he had stopped by a bakery and found the shelves cleaned out. Not a loaf remained, not a bagel, and the old baker standing amid the emptiness spread his arms and said, ‘Should happen every day.’

George Carlin

The things that matter in this country have been reduced in choice, there are two political parties, there are a handful insurance companies, there are six or seven information centers, but if you want a bagel…there are 23 flavors. Because you have the illusion of choice.

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!