Last week I looked at the benefits of including whey protein in your diet, and named it as my number 1 supplement! I also mentioned 2 other supplements that I considered essential, which were creatine monohydrate and vitargo. Today I am going to look into vitargo, which I am sure some people will not have heard of before!
Over recent years carbohydrates have been tarnished with a bad name. Whilst low carb, or even no carb diets do work, we should not forget the importance of carbohydrates in our diet, and the vital role they play in hydrating our muscles (hence why they are named carboHYDRATES).
In this article I am now going to look at carbs in general, but more importantly for the avid trainer I want to focus on the role of post-workout carbohydrates. These are the carbs we consume in the anabolic window created by training, which cannot be underestimated.
What is the anabolic window I here you cry?! I’ll go on to explain so don’t worry – but first let me educate you on 2 important words that I will use from time to time through the rest of this article:
- Catabolism – the term used when the body breaks down its own muscle tissue for fuel and nutrients. If you are catabolic you won’t grow new muscle.
- Anabolism – the term used when the body is in a state to grow additional muscle tissue. Whatever your sporting goals, it is important to remain in an anabolic state.
The anabolic window is a term used to describe a period of time before, during and after training. The use of the word anabolic has hopefully indicated to you that this window is about enabling your body to grow muscle tissue. Typically the anabolic window refers to the period of time an hour before training, and 1.5 hours after training. The best way to maximise the growth of muscle mass and/or increase strength is to take advantage of the anabolic window before and after weight training.
Before training it is important for you to fuel your muscles in preparation for your workout. Whey protein or a BCAA rich pre-workout drink (or the addition of BCAA’s to your pre-work out drink of choice) will reduce the effects of muscle breakdown during training. If you fail to supply these nutrients before training, your body will break down your own muscle tissue during training to provide them, and if your body is breaking down your own muscle tissue for fuel you are losing muscle mass (you have become catabolic), and not increasing it, which is counter-productive to training in the first place.
After training it is important to fuel your muscles and your body with the right nutrients. Just like you pre-work out meal or shake you are trying to defend against your body breaking down its own muscle tissue for fuel and nutrients. At this point in time it is also important to replace the nutrients stored in the muscles, which will have been used during training. The best way to look at your muscles after training is as huge sponges, and this is because they are primed to absorb any nutrients you provide them with.
Its well known, and accepted by most that BCAA’s, normally found in the form of whey protein, can double the bodies ability to stimulate protein synthesis, especially so after training. What is often overlooked, is the importance of carbs as part of your post- workout shake, in particular high GI carbs, as they increase blood insulin levels, and further stimulate protein synthesis within the body. The inclusion of high sugary GI carbs will also help to shuttle nutrients to the muscles quickly so any additional supplements like creatine and glutamine will get to where they are needed quicker.
Now we know that carbs are important for your post-workout shake we need to look at what carbs to use…
If you use a specialised recovery product or sports drink chances are that the carbs will be from dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose or a combination of the 3. All 3 of these have a high GI and are classed as sugars. Whilst all 3 are relatively cheap to produce, or purchase they are perhaps not the optimal product to consume, and I personally, and many others, have found that these sugars can cause bloating, which can be very uncomfortable. I also had an issue with consuming these 3 products, or anything containing them because they are sugars. We all know that sugar is bad for your teeth and I didn’t want to grow my muscles only to ruin my teeth – what good is being fit and ripped with muscles if you smile and have a mouth full of black teeth?!
This is where Vitargo comes into the equation.
Vitargo is a carbohydrate that is derived from barley starch. Whilst maltodextrin, dextrose and fructose are sugars, vitargo is not and is in fact a starch.
Vitargo has a larger molecule size than sugars. The large molecule size of vitargo minimises its osmolality (osmosis is the process in which a substance naturally draws in liquid). As vitargo does not draw in much liquid it will not bloat you and can pass through the stomach very quickly (twice as quick as maltodextrin). The stomach is the delaying factor between a product being ingested through the mouth and being absorbed by the body – the longer something has to pass through the stomach the longer it takes to get to where it is needed! Vitargo replenishes glycogen levels (which are severely depleted during training) 68% quicker than ordinary sports drinks and simple sugars – mainly in part due to the fact it rapidly exits the stomach.
Including a carbohydrate source, and in particular, vitargo in my own post-workout nutrition has seen no bloating, increased muscle fullness, increased recovery speed and greater muscle gains.
MultiPower X-Plode is a great post-workout recovery drink which utilises Vitargo as it's carbohydrate source! Combined with pure whey isolate protein this product will really help drive nutrients into the muscle cell after your intense workout!