Fortunately, we are seeing more and more shifts in the supplement industry. When the bodybuilding industry emerged, all kinds of supplements were released that supposedly help with muscle growth. However, science caught up with these developments. Research was conducted into which supplements were effective and which were not. In themselves these are great developments. However, as you can read in this article the conclusion from scientific research is not be-all end-all. There are often many reasons why a study is not completely valid and even if the study is properly conducted, the outcome can still be influenced by external factors.
This by no means means that we should see scientific research in our discussions as that annoying, senile, younger brother who thinks he is wise but is just talking nonsense. However, it also does not mean that when a study says A, we should all burn ritual B.
Scientific research forms the basis for further thinking and logical reasoning. Not everyone who reads the summary of studies is capable enough to interpret this data correctly. With this in mind, I want to talk to you today about carbohydrate timing and carbohydrate supplements around workouts.
Pre workout carbohydrates
Many people think that the body needs carbohydrates for a workout. After all, during a workout we consume a lot of glycogen, right?
This is certainly true, but as you will read later in the post workout carbohydrates section, this is precisely when we replenish glycogen. Consuming carbohydrates before exercise does not have much of an effect on glycogen synthesis. Energy supply is often not a limiting factor in a calorie surplus. In a hypertrophy phase you could even make a good argument against taking carbohydrates before your workout, depending on the time of training. when fat loss is the goal, it is a bit more nuanced.
In an energy shortage you want to adjust your nutrition in such a way that they have a positive effect on performance in the gym. During a surplus, this is much less important. With cutting, you should therefore ensure that your pre, intra and post workout nutrition contributes maximally to output. Energy is limited during cut phases. You want to use as much body fat as possible throughout the day and want to use carbohydrates when they matter.
However, many carbohydrates pre-workout can inhibit the initial stress response at the start of the workout, which can reduce the output. The body will now also have to produce more cortisol to counteract the effect of this insulin peak. So carbohydrates are less beneficial in a heavy block and more efficient in a high volume block.
Intra workout carbohydrates
As in so many situations it is the answer to the question Are intra workout carbs useful? it depends on.
Intra workout carbohydrates will certainly not always be necessary depending on the individual, time of training and also type of training. As you could read in the articles about the different training phases (including 'the 3 training phases for results' and 'why periodization of your training is crucial') different phases have different needs.
If you eat carbohydrates outside of your workout, your body will want to regulate blood sugar. It will try to keep blood sugar from rising too high with the help of insulin. During a workout, your body experiences stress and stress hormones will rise. You consume energy at a high rate, including / mainly in the form of glucose / glycogen / sugar. These stress hormones will cause blood sugar to rise in order to meet the demand. In addition, stress hormones counteract insulin. This is important because you need to have fuel available for your muscles during a stressful situation. If insulin were to work during such a situation, this fuel would be unavailable or less available.
The difference between rest and training
The regulation of which blood sugar is optimal during rest or during activity differs. So, when a carbohydrate meal before your workout increases blood sugar during your workout, that says nothing about whether adding intra workout carbs is useful or not. Measuring blood sugar during the workout says nothing about where these carbohydrates come from. Without intra workout carbs, your body will mainly draw fuel from the liver. Of course we use local muscle glycogen, but the carbohydrates that boost blood sugar during the workout come from or via the liver.
However, in order to maintain the blood sugar level in this way, more stress hormone will have to be released than if you had taken intra workout carbs and these would supply the carbohydrates. Intra workout carbs can therefore help with taking some stress off the liver and perhaps also dampen the peak in stress hormones, provided you do not turn more volume than you would without intra workout carbs. In this case, you will probably be able to do more work with the same stress response.
Also do not forget how important the liver is for, among other things, recovery but also sleep quality. Steps we can take to reduce stress on this organ can contribute to results in various areas.
When you choose a carbohydrate supplement for during training, it is important that you go for quickly absorbing carbohydrates. An example of a good choice would be isotonic are.
Post workout carbohydrates
When the workout is done, stress hormones are still high. However, a lot of fuel has also been consumed. This is the time of the day when you are most sensitive to insulin, so when your body uses carbohydrates most efficiently. For hypertrophy, post-workout carbohydrates are an absolute must.
Post-workout carbohydrates have different functions
- First of all, the glycogen levels must be replenished. The presence of muscle glycogen has a direct correlation with muscle protein breakdown. The lower your glycogen levels, the more protein will be broken down.
- In addition, carbohydrates cause an increase in insulin. Less after training than the rest of the day, but insulin will increase due to carbohydrate consumption. Insulin is important not only for the storage of carbohydrates, but also of other nutrients such as amino acids. As a result, nutrients will be absorbed more efficiently in the muscles.
- Finally and perhaps the most important reason: cortisol. As I explained earlier, cortisol and insulin are counterparts to each other. During a workout, the body is catabolic and is engaged in converting reserves into energy. After the training we want to stop this process and move on to recovery and construction. By increasing insulin after exercise, cortisol will decrease and the body can switch to recovery.
How Many Carbs Do I Need After My Workout?
The amount of carbohydrates you should take after a workout, of course, as always, depends on many factors. When you are in good health and fit you can have more carbohydrates than when you are overweight and not very active. If you experience a carb coma an hour after taking carbohydrates, it may be a sign that you are consuming too many carbohydrates.
However, there are reasons not to take carbohydrates immediately after training. In order not to make this article too big, I will not go into this too deeply for now, but when inflammation is very high in your body, adding carbohydrates can actually be counterproductive. This may be the case, for example, when you have too much stress and too little sleep, but also if you have a very high percentage of fat or have type 2 diabetes. In that case, it may be good to postpone eating or to take antioxidants. In addition, temporarily keeping stress hormones high after your workout can contribute to more fat loss.
Post workout is an ideal time to plan carbohydrates in your diet. Since, as mentioned, we want to get rid of our cortisol peak as quickly as possible, the choice for liquid carbohydrates is a good one. These are absorbed faster than carbohydrates in solid food form. For example, think of Advanced Carb Loader.
If you have trouble getting enough carbohydrates in your meals after training, the choice for more complex carbohydrates would be a good one. In addition to your meals you could, for example, opt for Complete carb gainer.
Everything depends on your goal
This completes the whole picture. Remember that the goal determines how you put in your training and nutrition. There are hardly any approaches or supplements that you can use at all times. This also applies to carbohydrates around the workout. In some cases you would want to avoid carbohydrates, in other cases not.
If you have any questions after the above article, feel free to ask them as always.