Most exercise, muscle building and weight loss plans highlight protein consumption and usage of protein powders as crucial steps to achieving ones muscle gains or weight loss goals. Less spoken about is the impact that carb powders can have, but it can be the difference between just getting fit, and getting absolutely shredded. Carbohydrate powders are exactly as their name suggest, post or pre-workout powders that have concentrated amounts of carbohydrates in them.
Why Take Carb Powders?
Most people have a terrible relationship with carbohydrates – they believe they should be avoided… they make you FAT! Although it is true that an unregulated consumption of carbs can have this effect, the human body needs carbs to survive! Carbs are the body’s energy source. Additionally, post or pre-workout carbohydrates is exactly what the body needs to maximize workouts. The reason being is that during a workout your body is primarily using glycogen and glucose as fuel (stored and unstored energy, aka carbohydrates). Now for the body to recover, restore and grow from its workouts, it needs to utilize carbs to do so. Especially after a workout, the body is depleted of carbs and is in need of more. Enter carb powders, ready to replenish the depleted stores.
After a high intensity workout, the body – under stress, will secret cortisol. Cortisol cannibalizes muscle tissue for the protein that muscles are composed of and converts it into glucose (carbs) through a process known as gluconeogenesis… sayonara muscles. This process is natural and makes a lot of sense evolutionary speaking; the body would rather turn excess muscle into energy in times of stress to ensure survival rather than worry about the aesthetics of the physique. You can’t be "swole" if you end up being eaten by a sabretooth cat because you were so outta energy that you couldn’t run anymore and dropped of exhaustion. This is why people who go on extended political fasts or sufferers of famine look so skinny, the body consumes itself for energy.
How Does It Work?
Anywho – taking Carb powders curbs this process because it spikes the body’s insulin. When insulin is higher than cortisol in the blood, it halts gluconeogenesis, and even increases protein synthesis (muscle growth). The body will begin to draw from the extra carbs for it’s energy. Any user of carb powders will also experience increased energy and vitality. For the aforementioned reasons, carbs essentially are introduced energy in the body, allowing one to feel reinvigorated and fresh when energy would otherwise be low. In the same way L-Carnitine provides energy from fat stores and achieves a feeling being energized, carb powders introduce energy to the body to the same effect.
Does The Cons Outweigh the Pros?
Some expert claimed having carbs after a workout will lower growth hormone and testosterone levels, some of the most important hormones when it comes to gains and maximizing HIIT exercises. Although this effect may occur, both growth hormone and testosterone drop post-workout no matter what, the positive effects of carbs on muscle recovery/growth and retention outweigh any drop in growth hormone and testosterone.
Now which type of carb powder to take? There are many carbs but to boil it down to the “need to know”, two outdo the rest. For post workout supplementation dextrose and maltodextrin are the best. Dextrose is a simple sugars that the body will intake rapidly without really having to digest. Maltodextrin is a complex sugar however the body easily breaks it down as well. There are also carb powders designed to give you a sustained energy burn throughout the day or to give you a spike that can help gain weight for bulking.
Whether you’re killing it with HIIT workout, pumping iron or doing some calisthenics, grabbing yourself some carb powders could have great effects. A cornerstone to great workouts they have a place in any buffs kitchen cabinets.