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What Is Carbohydrate Manipulation, and How Can It Help (or Hurt) Your Training? (Bicycling)

Fueling your body is often compared to putting gas in a car. The only problem is, your body is not a car—you don’t just have a full tank or an empty tank—so that overused trope falls flat when it comes to human performance.

The human body is more sophisticated than that. It burns two kinds of essential macronutrients for fuel: fat and carbohydrates. (You can burn protein, a.k.a. your muscle tissue, for fuel through a process called gluconeogenesis, but its far better to fuel appropriately so you don’t force your body to essentially eat itself.) And you can actually train your body to be better at burning one fuel source or the other. How far and fast you go depends on the fuels you put in and how effectively and efficiently you can access and process those fuels.

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