Post-Workout Carbohydrates - To Do, Or Not To Do?

There are many factors in which we as bodybuilders and
fitness enthusiasts implement into our nutrition programmes when trying to gain
muscle when we are not concerned by a small fat gain (typically in the winter
when our bodies are covered by baggy jumpers and coats!). These include well
researched methods such as creatine use to boost anaerobic energy and power,
whey protein immediately after we train to prevent muscle breakdown and fire up
the rebuilding process and use of pre-workout supplements containing arginine
and beta-alanine for optimal blood vessel dilatation and nutrient delivery.

Another in this list of tools from our anabolic tool box is
the use of fast digesting carbohydrates such as glucose or maltodextrin post
workout to cause the effects such as those reported in a 2007 Journal of
Strength and Conditioning review by Hass et al, of increasing insulin levels (therefore
increasing the delivery of protein to the muscles) having the effect of
increased rate of protein synthesis, topping up glycogen stores and creating an
anabolic hormonal environment, perfect for muscle growth.

So why then do we assume that the rules change when it comes
to cutting away excess fat from our bodies? The main issue that I hear day to
day is a concern that carbohydrates= fat gain. In fact this is far from the
truth and the issue is much more related to managing insulin release than
carbohydrates themselves, though this is a discussion for a different day!

In reality, no matter what our goal, or what we decide to do
in terms of carbohydrate intake for the rest of our day, we need carbohydrates
immediately upon waking (to halt overnight catabolism and ensure fast
absorption of our morning protein hit) and after we train to ensure maximal
benefit of the protein that we have ingested in our post-workout shake, and
replace the glycogen that we have used as an energy source for the workout that
we have just completed. Our depleted muscles act like a dry sponge, sucking the
carbohydrates that we ingest up and putting them straight to work re-fuelling
our muscle glycogen stores and ensuring maximal recovery. Provided we don’t
overfill the muscle, there is no reason why our bodies will store the carbohydrates
ingested as fat (think about a fully saturated sponge, once its fully absorbed
all the water it can, it will cause any further water to just spill out and
this is what can happen within the muscles if too many carbohydrates are taken

I recommend a
2:1 ratio of carbs to protein post workout, meaning that if you have 20g
protein, you should have 40g of fast digesting carbohydrates for maximal
anabolic effect and to maximise the gains achieved from your hard work in the





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