Carbohydrate supplements - what to choose and how to use them?
Physically active people usually use protein supplements to supplement macronutrients to increase the supply of protein. However, it is not only worth reaching for them, because carbohydrate supplements can also help you achieve your training goals. Carbohydrates themselves are quite controversial among athletes and some people are concerned about body fat or the anabolic effects of insulin. However, the facts are that it is this macronutrient that provides energy to the muscles, and this is only one of the reasons why you should use carbohydrate supplements.
Carbohydrate supplements - principle of operation
Carbohydrates are responsible for numerous processes in the body, not only providing energy to working muscles, but also influencing the ability to exercise and regulating digestive processes. However, it must be remembered that not all carbohydrates work the same, and the effect of simple and complex carbohydrates is different. The former are the simplest form, consisting of only one molecule. Due to their structure, they do not have to be broken down into smaller compounds and are absorbed very quickly, providing immediate energy and provoking a sudden burst of insulin, the concentration of which does not last long - unfortunately, similarly, it is with a high level of energy.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, must be broken down into smaller particles before they can be used. Their transformations are the cause of a slow insulin release, the energy is released gradually and remains at a similar level for a long time. Carbohydrate supplements can include both simple and complex ones. The degree of absorption of carbohydrates in the supplement depends on its type. Monosaccharides such as dextrose, hydrolyzed starch or in blends are available on the market.
Maltodextrin is the main constituent of most nutrients of this type. It is a combination of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides obtained by partial hydrolysis of starch. Nevertheless, it is still a complex sugar, the breakdown of which into smaller molecules accelerates absorption and obtaining energy. Often, these preparations also contain vitamins, minerals and special ingredients that support performance during training, e.g. arginine or taurine. Particularly often in the composition you can find vitamin B, which stimulates the brain and muscle connections and supports the functioning of the nervous system.
Therefore, carbo supplements most often consist of a mixture of slow, medium and fast-release carbohydrates. Enriching them with magnesium and other electrolytes prevents involuntary muscle contractions. In the first place, muscle fibers use stored glycogen as an energy source, but even the brain uses as much as 50 g of glucose a day. Due to their composition, carbohydrate supplements are very cheap, but also highly effective.
Why is it worth taking carbohydrate supplements?
There are many positive effects of taking carbo supplements, although for many people the most important thing is replenishing energy. The body has only a small reserve of carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, and during exercise it quickly depletes, leading to a loss of exercise capacity. When the amino acids released from proteins during physical activity are converted into glucose, muscle catabolism is also increased.
Glycogen is stored by the body in the muscles and the liver, however, in the latter organ, its reserves are much greater and can be used not only to power the work of muscles, but also the brain. Meanwhile, muscle glycogen is stored in much smaller amounts and can only be used by muscles. During exercise, glycogen is broken down into glucose, which provides the necessary energy. However, when supplies of the former run out, which often happens quickly, then the ability to train at high intensity drops. The efficiency and pleasure of exercise decreases, which applies to both endurance sports and intense strength training.
However, it is not the type of physical activity that decides how long glycogen will last, but the proper replenishment of glycogen losses. In the period before, during and immediately after training, it should be done with carbohydrates of various structure and in liquid form, i.e. in the form in which they are taken with the supplement. It is especially important to consume this macronutrient during exercise, which allows you to maintain activity and exercise much longer and more intensively, and also immediately after its completion, to maintain glycogen reserves.
An energy injection that allows for intense and longer training, and consequently improving sports results, is not the only benefit of using carbo supplements. Such intensification of exercise results in a more effective burning of calories, so you do not have to worry that the additional caloric supply will translate into an increase in body fat. Carbohydrates are the most digestible and most economical source of energy. Without their participation, it is more difficult to burn fat, and increasing their amount in the diet promotes better absorption of calcium. This macronutrient binds water in the body and protects proteins (essential for lean body mass gains) against breakdown. Carbohydrates are also responsible for controlling the level of insulin, which is the most anabolic hormone in the human body, responsible for the ability to lose weight or gain weight.
It must be remembered that carbo supplements are not a building material for muscles, but they are an excellent source of energy, guaranteeing increased endurance during exercise and reducing fatigue after their completion. Digestion of these nutrients is smooth, so it is recommended to use them around the training period. They allow you to replenish your energy reserves, but at the same time do not burden the stomach, are easy to digest and do not cause discomfort during exercise. Quickly leaving the stomach is important because carbo supplements pass faster to the intestines, where they are digested and absorbed. Thus, the level of glucose and insulin is raised faster, after which the process of glycogen storage takes place and the body takes post-training anti-catabolic activities.
The loss of glycogen can also be supplemented by eating high-calorie meals, however, nutrients are a much more convenient form. Their liquid form is an additional advantage during training or immediately after its completion, when you should not eat or have no appetite yet. Of course, quick absorption and easy digestibility are other advantages.
Among the additional benefits of including carbo-type supplements in the menu, there is a very positive effect on the concentration of carbohydrates consumed around the training period. A positive influence on the ability to focus attention is important especially in sports that require quick reaction and making decisions in a short time. The supply of carbohydrates at the right level is also very beneficial for the dynamics and sudden changes of direction, which allows you to present skills at a higher level. This is because the gradual release from glycogen reserves delays the moment of fatigue.
Who should reach for carbohydrate supplements?
Often, bodybuilders are reluctant to consume a surplus of carbohydrates, fearing the insulin bursts that occur after their consumption, which exacerbate anabolic processes. Meanwhile, the use of glycogen reserves causes that the moment of burning your own endogenous muscle proteins is delayed. These nutrients contribute to the protection of muscles for a longer period, and it is worth mentioning that dextrose is also a carbohydrate supplement. Its consumption contributes to a rapid insulin release, significantly improving anabolic processes. The dextrose itself participates in better transport of creatine to the muscle cell, thanks to which mass and strength are built even more effectively, on which bodybuilders care most. Combining carbohydrates with EAA can also be of great benefit to these athletes as it increases growth hormone secretion, thereby improving recovery and reducing muscle damage.
Carbohydrate supplements are, of course, highly recommended for people who practice endurance sports. They provide an energy boost, improve regeneration and allow you to maintain high intensity of exercise for longer. These products can be used by people practicing any discipline, they are perfect for adepts of martial arts. The extension of training possibilities thanks to these nutrients is noticeable in strength and endurance sports. Powerlifters, whose training units often last about 2 hours, should in particular use carbo, which guarantees a surge of strength and energy during a long effort.
How to take carbohydrate supplements?
The use of these supplements depends to some extent on the nature of the effort made. The glycogen stores are used up in about half an hour for dominant anaerobic exercises, in 45-90 minutes in intervals, and in about two hours in endurance sports. Before intense exercise, it is most recommended to take a multi-component supplement that contains simple and complex sugars. During long-term training, the best solution is liquid carbohydrates, and up to 30 minutes after exercise, it is worth taking simple, easily digestible carbohydrates. The time of the glycemic window lasts then and the cells are more sensitive to insulin, therefore glucose is used more quickly for the synthesis of glycogen. Later, after the end of physical activity, mainly multi-component supplements are recommended.
The dosage of carbohydrate supplements is largely dependent on the daily energy requirement. Follow the recommendations of the manufacturer of the specific supplement, but usually the dose is 30 - 50 g before and immediately after exercise. Rapid supplementation of muscle glycogen is crucial from the perspective of people who care about building muscle mass. The restored glycogen stores contribute to the swelling of muscle cells, which is a signal for the body to grow.
The assumed goal also determines the method of using nutrients. If the supplement is to ensure a quick flow of energy, you should drink 30 - 40 g of carbo half an hour before training, but if it is to guarantee the intensity of exercise, then during exercise, drink 50 - 80 g of this nutrient dissolved in a maximum of 1.5 liters of water. Replenishment of glycogen stores and supporting regeneration after training is usually done with 1 g of supplement per 1 kg of body weight.
It is also important to choose the right supplement. The most common mixtures of simple carbohydrates on the market, such as dextrose, and complex carbohydrates, such as hydrolyzed corn starch and maltodextrin. This combination ensures gradual absorption of carbohydrates. People whose goal is to provide an energy boost in the pre-workout period should target the classic mixtures.
The best carbohydrate supplements
KFD Premium Carb Mix is one of the most recommendable mixtures. It contains only high-quality carbohydrates, i.e. dextrose, maltodextrin and waxy maize, which optimizes the absorption of this macronutrient during training and after its completion. The ingredients are perfectly balanced, thanks to which they improve the glycogenesis process, creating a store of muscle glycogen. It is an excellent post-workout meal for athletes, bodybuilders and health-conscious people. Thanks to the presence of as many as three sources of carbohydrates in KFD Premium Carb Mix, they are absorbed gradually and evenly, improving the effectiveness of training and muscle regeneration. One portion of this product (50 g) is mixed with 400 ml of water and drunk immediately after preparation.
An injection of carbohydrates to an exhausted body after training is guaranteed by OLIMP CARBO NOX. This preparation has been enriched with a lot of vitamins and minerals, and the L-arginine contained in it, which is a substrate for the synthesis of nitric oxide, is one of the reasons for the excellent solubility of this nutrient in the human bloodstream. The carbohydrate sources are maltodextrin, glucose and isomaltose. This product is taken half an hour before or immediately after the activity. One measure of it should be mixed with 100 ml of water.
VITARGO ELECTRO-ENERGY is a preparation enriched with electrolytes, which are characterized by low osmolality and high molecular weight. This product is recommended to all athletes, regardless of their discipline. You should consume two servings of this nutrient a day, preferably during and after training. They are made with 70 g of nutrient and 700 ml of water.