Ironically, as I write this post, I am in the final leg of a 3-hour glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes. With my daughter and with this pregnancy, I failed the 1-hour glucose tolerance test and am rewarded with the 3-hour fasted version. It encompasses three of my least favorite things: fasting, having my blood drawn (4 separate times), and drinking 100g of, what boils down to, super-sweet sugar water – the 100g is the amount of sugar I ingest… in 5-minutes.
So, while I’m pondering my own insulin sensitivity, I thought I’d talk about a strategy the Strength & Conditioning Coach for Maryland’s women’s basketball program just employed to help his team win the ACC tournament: carbohydrate depletion.
Now, I’ll admit that I don’t know the details firsthand. So this is conjecture based off of what I know for certain – he put his team of a carbohydrate restricted diet right before and during the ACC tournament.
My first response when I heard this: WHAA?
Well, his approach is actually brilliant! He was looking for a simple way to improve the team’s performance, in a short period of time, which would not require more training (i.e., more fatigue).
So, he provided the team with a list of what they could eat (protein, fat, veggies for the most part). Over, what I’m supposing, a few days the team ate accordingly and only consumed simple carbohydrates during and immediately after training sessions (I’m supposing this, too).
And the theoretical outcome? When the girls did get a sports drink during practice/games they would have had a more intense response to the sugar. Thus getting more bang for the buck (more energy). In the post-training timeframe this increased insulin sensitivity would have aided in a quicker recovery, too.
I thought this was a pretty cool technique. One that is not new by any means, but that I’ve never heard of being used with an entire team at this level.