Written by: Shawn Talbott, Ph.D
Endurance exercise makes us tired – that’s not exactly a newsflash – but methods to “reduce fatigue” or “prolong endurance” have become the Holy Grail of sports nutrition.
Undoubtedly, you’ve seen numerous “improve endurance” products in the form of energy bars, carb beverages, and related that provide calories to help maintain glucose, reduce lactic acid accumulation, and restore glycogen levels and thus help to delay “peripheral” fatigue (caused when your muscles fatigue).
However, a new category of endurance nutrition products are entering the market intended to improve “mental energy” and help to delay “central fatigue” (which occurs when the brain basically says, “No more, we’re done”). These new types of products can be broadly grouped into a category that we refer to as “Brain Ergogenics” – to suggest an overall effect of enhancing the brain’s capacity for high-performance work output.
Brain Ergogenics has the potential to be the “next big thing” in endurance performance. We have already gotten pretty close to optimizing the approach to extending endurance through “peripheral” mechanisms, which includes factors occurring outside the brain, in the muscles, blood vessels, etc – such as glycogen levels, oxygen delivery, maintenance of blood glucose, electrolytes for hydration and cramping, etc. However, we have only scratched the surface in terms of extending endurance through “central” mechanisms (brain-centered).
One way to think about obstacles to endurance performance is that you “stop” (or slow down) moving forward due to either peripheral fatigue (you bonk or hit the wall or succumb to the “burn” of lactate accumulation) or due to central fatigue (your brain says “enough”) – and both factors can be “pushed back” in various ways to enable us to keep going.Pages: 1 2