Carb binge after competition paralyzes bodybuilder
After a competition, some bodybuilders binge on carbohydrates for a short period. So did a Korean bodybuilder, who ended up in the hospital. In 4 days he put on 10 kilos, and this increase of body weight disrupted his electrolyte balance. His muscles started to decay and he lost control of his legs.
Researchers from Changwon Gyeongsang National University Hospital described the case of a 28-year-old bodybuilder who had participated in a competition 5 days earlier. After that he had been binging on carbohydrates, and gained kilos. The bodybuilder denied the use of anabolics or other doping substances. And if a competitive bodybuilder says he doesn't use steroids, we believe him. Of course.
In his blood, the researchers found evidence of muscle damage: the concentration of creatine kinase and myoglobin was pretty high. And, very strange, the concentration of potassium was dangerously low.
After the competition, the muscle and liver cells of the man had been carb depleted, the researchers think. The cells had absorbed lots of glucose when the carb binge started. However, electrolytes such as potassium are required for the cellular uptake of glucose. Apparently the muscles and the liver had absorbed so much glucose that the bodybuilder's potassium level had become dangerously low. This could explain why his muscle cells were breaking down and neural pathways to his legs no longer functioned.
The researchers gave the bodybuilder potassium via an infusion. This could not prevent that the concentration of creatine kinase [CK] and myoglobin increased in the days that followed, but that increase was short-lived. All symptoms disappeared, and after 7 days the bodybuilder could go home again.
"In conclusion, with the recent, increasing numbers of new fitness centers and the increasing numbers of youngsters participating in bodybuilding, physicians should be able to recognize possible causes of sudden severe hypokalemia in these patients, with large amounts of muscle mass to treat, and advise the patients appropriately", write the researchers.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Oct;96(40):e8251.
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