Understanding Glycogen to Peak Right

What is it?

The stored form of carbohydrates in the body that serves as energy for later use.

Glycogen is stored with water in your muscles in a ratio of 1:3. So 2.7 grams of water are stored with each gram of glycogen. (this is why people lose so much weight on low carb diets – they’re dropping mostly water that had been stored with the glycogen)

The body has a limited storage capacity for glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscle tissues.

How much can we store?

There is no way to give an accurate number for the exact amount of glycogen someone can store, so the best you can do is come up with a rough estimate of average numbers based on the science we do know. Your individual storage capacity varies and is dependent on your % bodyfat, your current level of glycogen stores, the recent training you’ve done, carbohydrate metabolism and your recent diet.

Glycogen storage capacity is approximately 15 g/ kg of body weight. This is both liver and muscle storage.

220 lb = 100 kg x 15 = 1500g

200 lb = 91 kg x 15 = 1365g

175 lb = 79kg x 15 = 1185g

150 lb = 68kg x 15 =1020g

120lb = 54 kg x 15 = 810g

*Keep in mind these numbers would be total storage capacity and would assume the person is completely depleted.

The liver has a larger storage capacity for glycogen, however athletes tend to have larger muscle mass so it’s safe to say anywhere around 15-25% is stored in liver and the remaining 75-85% is stored in muscle.

How long does it take for glycogen storage after ingestion of carbohydrate?

Many individual/genetic factors come into play when evaluating the time it takes an athlete to digest and store carbohydrates such as type of carbohydrate, enzyme capacity of the individual and other macros present.

It generally takes around 45-90 minutes for carbs to be digested depending on what you eat them with and the glycemic rating of the carb. Higher glycemic rated carbs tend to get stored more rapidly as glycogen…and fats and proteins delay the digestion of the carb. This 45-90 minutes can go as high as 3 hours if you are consuming slower digesting carbs with mixed macros in the meal.

Coach's Corner


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