Post Workout Carbs
Supplements 101
by Jesse Seal

Post Workout Carbs

Post workout carbs supplements are flooding the market and leaving athletes and trainers with tons of options. So the question remains, which one should you buy?

First, let’s discuss the basic types of carbs, how each one is used in improving athletic performance, and when the best time to take them is.

Basically, there are two major times when one needs carbohydrates:

  • 30 to 60 minutes before you workout, and
  • up to an hour after you workout.

Pre workout carbs give the body a source of carbohydrates to use as energy. This is very important especially if you are going for a workout in the morning. Post workout carbs play a very important role in helping the body recover after resistance training when muscles are depleted of glucose and glycogen. Consuming simple carbs facilitates muscle growth and recovery.

As you are strength training, muscles use available energy in the body which is in the form of glucose and glycogen. The result of this exertion is a condition where glycogen and glucose levels in the blood are very low, resulting in what we call muscle failure. This is the time when your body does not have enough energy available for the muscles to perform the required movements in your training.

While you are lifting heavy weights or performing any type of resistance training, a hormone called cortisol is secreted in the body. This is considered a stress hormone since it has a lot of catabolic effects on the body, meaning it eats up the muscle tissue, converting protein into glucose. This process is known as gluconeogenesis. The amino acids produced from the conversion of protein are used and turned into glucose. Thus, the process leads to loss of the muscle tissue.

Clearly, since gluconeogenesis scavenges muscle tissue, it is a condition to avoid if your goal is gaining muscle mass.

Types of Carbs

Post workout carbs prevent loss of muscle mass by facilitating the release of insulin. A good trainer knows that promoting the production of insulin in the body is one of the most important things. Today, athletes and coaches have many options when it comes to choosing a carbohydrate supplement.

Among the most popular carbs that many people consume after a workout are maltodextrin and dextrose. These carbs create insulin spikes, causing more nutrients to enter the muscles and using the carbs as energy. The additional nutrients help in the repairing process, increasing recovery and proper growth of muscles. Basically, these carbs are simple sugars that are commonly found in fruits. They act as a major source of energy for the body.

Once consumed, they facilitate polysaccharide and disaccharide breakdown and the eventual absorption of glucose. If there is excessive glucose in the body, it is stored in the muscles as glycogen. During a workout, muscles need energy and the glycogen stored in the muscles is depolymerized, producing glucose and increasing muscular endurance and athletic performance.

Today, there are many people using these carbs. Even people who are not engaging in resistance training such as diabetic individuals use them.

Another popular carb supplement is waxy maize starch. This carb can be used before and after training. According to the information available from its different companies that manufacture it, it has higher molecular value when compared to majority of the carbs in the market today, including dextrose and maltodextrin.

Waxy maize starch is manufactured in a way that makes it bypass the human stomach. Thus, when consumed, it is absorbed through the intestines immediately. Waxy maize starch can also facilitate the immediate absorption of other supplements through the intestines by acting as a carrier. This effect aids in immediate pumping of nutrients into the muscles. Keep in mind that there has been little done in terms of research to fortify these claims.

Choosing a Carbohydrate Supplement
Basically, the best product to consume after a workout is the one that is most easily absorbed in the body. This is made possible if a product has small molecules that are capable of penetrating through the intestine at a fast rate during their absorption. It should also have the ability to raise osmolarity of glucose in the stomach, slowing gastric emptying. A faster rate of glucose absorption implies that there is optimized glycogen replenishing. Hydration and athletic performance are also improved when there is faster absorption of glucose in the body.

Nevertheless, it is important to always be on the lookout. New brands of post workout carbs are always emerging. Find out more about different brands before you start using them. If a brand has been in the market for sometimes, you can research more about its effectiveness. A good place to start is the website of the manufacturer to learn more about its ingredients. Knowing about the experiences of those who have used a product is very important. Therefore, read reviews and testimonials written by those who have used different brands of post workout carbs before purchasing or trying them, but remember to always listen to your own body when trying new supplements.


At Irondom Gym, all of our athletes like to take Dark Matter after a workout. It goes beyond being a carbohydrate supplement, it has tons of aminos to help support muscle growth. Check it out Dark Matter if you want to gain muscle and still have energy after a workout to complete your day.


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About the Author

Jesse Seal is the assistance Combatives Instructor, and has been training in Combative Sciences since 2008. He has also been training and learning through Bullock's Irondom Performance Systems since 2010.

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