Summary: In this article you find the reasons why muscular pain arises and it highlights how the body prioritises your nutrition breakdown.

Balance your Body Fuels to prevent Muscular Pain

Author: Nanning Jacobs
Reading time: 5 minutes

Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle size or prevent muscular pain, it is vital that you recognise the order of nutritional breakdown by the body.

First of all, there are three types of body fuels namely; carbohydrates, muscles (amino acids / proteins), and fat for energy that we can distinguish.


These are the fuels directly available after a good meal. They are energy that the body efficiently transforms to energy.  On the short term, abundant energy can be stored as glucose in your blood or glucogen in your muscles and is the first source of energy.  The amount and speed through which glucose and glucogen can be stored and burned differs significantly per person. In case of abundancy and the fuel is not totally burned,  the left overs can be stored as (low) “fat”. This means that on a daily basis your calorie intake exceeds the calories you burnt. This should be in balance, especially for the long term in order to prevent overweight.

Please note that we burn carbohydrates through 2 disctinctive metabolism.  For short term high intensity impact (short sprints of 90 seconds) the an-aerobic glucogen metabolism is allocated. For endurence of + 1 hours the most effective metabolism is the aerobic energy system, burning glucose. The name for the latter already indicates that it requires oxygen to support the release of energy.

Carbohydrates releases 4 kcal / gram. 

Fat Metabolized

Fat (tissue), known as triacylglycerol, is the second resource that your body wants to excess when glucose or glycogen is not available, for energy. Especially low fats are high in energy, 9 calories per gram of fat.  It’s a logical next energy source. However, in case your body is low on carbohydrates or fat reserves, it has to change to proteins / start burning your muscles.

Fat releases 9 kcal / gram.

Muscle Breakdown / protein

When glucose and fats are not sufficiently available your body breaks down your muscles where amino acids can be released.  As your muscles give you the power to move in search of food it is the last choice of your body to start burning it. When in the jungle and not in reach of any other nutrition’s we say that your body activates the starvation phase that can eventually be live threatening.

Protein releases 4kcal / gram. 

Balance your Body Fuels to prevent Muscular Pain

The reasoning behind muscular pain

Muscular pain arises from not having enough directly available energy sources or the intensity of the sport requires more oxygen (aerobic metabolism) in order to facilitate the burning process that supports the release of the  energy needed.  Glycogen, in comparison to fats, requires relatively low amounts of oxygen. This makes it the most efficient energy resource.  In a high intensity sport like fitness or even with interval running as field hockey, it may be that the explosive nature of the sport forces your body to skip the carbohydrates or fat energy sources and go straight to (the energy sources in) your muscles. As a result amino acids are accessed and your muscles feel they are being burned with muscular pain as a result.

Let me explain in short; To prevent muscle breakdown, allow smoot circulation of blood in your body that sends oxygen to go to your muscles where any type of fuel burns up. When you do long and intense sports assure you continue to supplement your directly available energy sources!  A stretch (when warm) before the game or gym and a protein banana shake will already make a hell of a  difference!

Coming up in my next blog;  “4 Cures for Sore Muscles

  1. Stretching; after a decent warming up
  2. Heat treatment; stimulation of blood circulation
  3. Omega 3’s;  works for the next 48 hours
  4. Foam rollers; increase blood flow to your muscles via applied pressure

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