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Carbohydrate Supplements — What are They, Benefits, Functions & More


Carbohydrate Supplements — What are They, Benefits, Functions & More
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In recent years, carbohydrates have developed a relatively unfavorable public image. In recent years, diets that are low in carbohydrates and ketogenic have seen a significant rise in popularity.

Due to the widespread adoption of these diets, many people have entirely cut out carbs from their meals. Carbohydrates are often overlooked by bodybuilders in favor of protein powder and essential fatty acids, even though most bodybuilders have access to truckloads of protein powder. This is a significant error!

Carbohydrates can promote muscle growth, prevent muscle loss, and even speed up metabolic rate if they are handled correctly. Before you can understand how to make the most of carbohydrates for your own benefit, you need to first get familiar with the ways in which the body utilizes carbohydrates.

What are Carbohydrates?

The primary source of fuel for your body is found in the form of carbohydrates (also known as glucose and stored as glycogen). Glycogen is a kind of energy that may be accessed with relative ease. During exercise, glycogen is the primary fuel source that is used, followed by glycogen stored in the liver and glucose found in the blood.

Sugars, starches, and fiber are the three forms that carbohydrates can take. Amylase is an enzyme produced in the body responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates. This enzyme converts carbs into glucose, which is a quick-acting energy storage. If glycogen is not used as an energy source, it is stored as fat to provide the body with more energy reserves in the future.

Simple and Complex Carbohydrates

One must be familiar with the distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates before attempting to comprehend the various carbohydrate supplement types. Each variety of carbohydrate supplement either metabolizes and breaks down into glycogen at the same rates or provides energy in a manner that is distinct from one another in terms of both quality and duration.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates consist of sugar molecules that can be separated into glucose and fructose. Blood glucose, or sugar, is the brain's primary fuel source. Blood sugar levels rise, and insulin production is stimulated after consuming diets high in simple carbs.

In response to insulin, the body stores glucose as glycogen in muscle and the liver, with any surplus going to fat storage. Fast-acting or simple carb supplements like dextrose, maltodextrin, waxy maize, and cyclic dextrin tend to have a very high glycemic index.

The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks carbohydrates in meals by how quickly their consumption raises blood sugar levels. Slower digestion, absorption, and metabolism of carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) lead to a smaller and more gradual increase in blood glucose and, by extension, insulin levels.

Foods with a high GI cause large swings in blood sugar (glucose) levels due to their quick digestion, absorption, and metabolism. One of the keys to long-term health is consuming low GI carbs, which reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by causing fewer variations in blood glucose and insulin levels. It's also an essential part of preserving your hard-won weight loss.

Complex Carbohydrates

Structure themselves into starch or fiber, which are digested much slower than simple sugars. Longer-chained sugar molecules make up complex carbohydrates, which can be found in foods like whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and fruit.

Starch, unlike fiber, is made up of many sugar molecules and may be rapidly metabolized into glucose. Fiber, also made up of sugar molecules, does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the human digestive system cannot break down until it reaches the very end of the digestive tract. Bran, almonds, wheat, vegetables, barley, beans, and oats are all high-fiber diets.

Complex carbs are preferable because they prevent rapid sugar absorption, lowering blood cholesterol levels and prolonging appetite.

Why Carbohydrates are Important for Athletes

Glycogen is crucial for meeting the body's energy needs during prolonged, moderate exercise or high-intensity training. One of the primary causes of exhaustion during exercise is a decrease in muscle glycogen. Replenishing glycogen stores is crucial for a speedy recovery from extended exercise because it kick starts the muscle repair and adaption processes.

Carbohydrates are an integral part of your pre-, during-, and post-workout nutrition plan and significantly impact your ability to regain endurance and strength after high-intensity exercise.

Your body's carbohydrate needs will vary based on the length and intensity of your workout. Carbohydrates and glycogen are broken down and used as an energy source during prolonged, high-intensity exertion.

The majority of endurance athletes routinely exercise between 65 and 75% of their VO2 max. Two hours of activity is all it takes to deplete muscle glycogen, but a 15-hour fast will do the same to the liver. As a result, if athletes consume enough carbohydrates, they can postpone the onset of muscle weariness brought on by glycogen depletion.

Carb Supplements

Carbohydrate supplements have several benefits that make them an excellent choice in certain circumstances. Most foods take longer to digest than supplements, which means that taking supplements will result in a more intense insulin response.

Whole foods tend to be digested more slowly than processed foods, which can help decrease feelings of hunger and have many other health benefits.

Because of these factors, consuming high-glycemic supplementary carbohydrates such as dextrose, maltodextrin, and glucose before, during, and after exercise is recommended for optimal results.

Consuming carbohydrates from whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, is the healthiest way to get your carbohydrate needs to be met throughout the day.

Best Carb Sources for Supplementing

Before, during, and after exercise are the most effective time-consuming carbohydrates derived from dextrose and maltodextrin. How do you choose which option is most suited to your needs? Dextrose and maltodextrin are both quick-digesting carbohydrates with a high glycemic index that will result in an abrupt increase in insulin production.

Digesting dextrose, which is simply glucose in its purest form, is unnecessary. In the strictest definition, dextrose can be understood to refer to sugar. In addition to that, it has a highly sugary flavor.

On the other hand, Maltodextrin is technically not a sugar, even though it can be broken down into glucose just as rapidly as dextrose can. This is because maltodextrin is a polysaccharide. In addition to this, it could be sweeter and frequently possesses absolutely no flavor at all.

In most cases, dextrose is the superior option for consumption before, during, and after exercise. Maltodextrin is a good option for people who have trouble digesting sugar or who prefer a less sweet taste in their shakes. It works well in both situations.

Waxy maize is a supplementary carbohydrate that is relatively new but has gained much popularity in recent years. Waxy maize is a type of starch with a high molecular weight and no sugar. It is a highly unusual type of complex carbohydrate that can be absorbed in a short time. Those sensitive to sugar will find that this supplement, similar to maltodextrin, works very well.

On the other hand, Waxy maize starch is designed to refuel and restore glycogen stores, while proteins help rebuild muscle tissue. You can use waxy maize at any point before, during, or after your workout.

Benefits of Carb Supplements

Carb Supplements are as crucial as your protein or hydration supplements. Let's take a look at some of the advantages that carbohydrate supplements offer:

Improves Energy & Fuels Endurance

Glycogen is the primary source of fuel for optimal brain function, and it gives your body energy by creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is possible to experience feelings of fatigue, sluggishness, loss of mental focus, and a slowing of mental processing if you do not consume enough carbs.

Not to mention the fact that if you don't consume enough carbohydrates, your athletic performance will suffer because you won't have the energy to be physically active. Consuming supplements of complex carbohydrates while exercising will assist prolong performance and feed muscle endurance.

During prolonged and strenuous exercise, your body's glycogen stores will inevitably become depleted, which is the primary contributor to the onset of weariness. Numerous clinical studies have shown that longer bouts of exercise are associated with lower glycogen content levels in the muscle.

ATP is created from glucose oxidation via aerobic and anaerobic exercise during intense, intermittent, and continuous physical activity. ATP is necessary for muscular contraction and is produced during these types of exercise. The rate at which glycogen is drained is proportional to the amount of physical activity.

Consequently, high-intensity training will deplete glycogen stores more rapidly than exercise performed at a moderate intensity.

Enhances the Ability to Recover After Exercise

You are aware that glycogen stores can be depleted during high-intensity exercise. If your glycogen stores are low, you will have less energy and, in essence, less fuel to carry you through the upcoming training sessions and workouts you have scheduled.

According to several analyses, taking in a sufficient amount of protein shortly after exercise and replenishing your glycogen stores simultaneously both promote faster muscle recovery and significantly improve muscle mass.

Creates a Greater Muscle Mass

Protein deserves all of the praise for its role in muscle development. However, in addition to protein, you'll need to consume complex carbohydrates if you want to increase the amount of muscle and strength you have.

Post-workout nutrition needs to include an adequate quantity of essential amino acids derived from protein and glycogen derived from carbohydrates. This will allow you to initiate the process of replenishment and repair, which will allow you to get the most out of your training and build more muscle.

There is a correlation between the combination of carbs and protein in post-workout nutrition and the highest advantages in performance enhancement and muscle growth.

Make Sure You Get Enough Fiber

The normal bodybuilding diet typically does not include any form of fiber. We mustn't overlook the significance of this essential nutrient. The fiber in the diet offers a wide variety of health advantages, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, a reduction in cholesterol levels, and the maintenance of regular bowel movements.

Although none of these benefits will immediately affect muscle building or fat loss, general health will be improved. If you have an illness or aren't taking care of your body, you won't be able to gain muscle or operate well.

Aside from that, we all put a lot of effort into our workouts and diets to feel and look beautiful. Consuming fiber will ensure that everything inside of you continues to function appropriately.

There are fiber powders available that can help enhance your daily intake if you find it difficult to consume sufficient amounts of dietary fiber through the consumption of whole meals. In general, you should consume between 25 and 50 grams of dietary fiber every single day.


Although carbs may not be thought to be one of the most cutting-edge supplements, they are, in fact, one of the most beneficial products now available. It has been demonstrated that the consumption of carbohydrates promotes increased muscle growth via a variety of different mechanisms and routes. Because of this, you will be able to maximize the effectiveness of every training session and gain every last ounce of muscle within your reach.

When you prepare your post-workout protein shake the next time, include some carbohydrates in the mixture as well. Protein may be the show's star when it comes to bodybuilding, but it's important to remember that every hero needs a sidekick.

Reading List

Article Sources

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  • Burke, Louise M., et al. “Carbohydrates for Training and Competition.” Journal of Sports Sciences, vol. 29, no. sup1, Jan. 2011, pp. S17–27. Taylor and Francis+NEJM,
  • Fournier, Paul A., et al. “Post-Exercise Muscle Glycogen Repletion in the Extreme: Effect of Food Absence and Active Recovery.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, vol. 3, no. 3, Sept. 2004, pp. 139–46. PubMed Central,
  • Ivy, John L. “Regulation of Muscle Glycogen Repletion, Muscle Protein Synthesis and Repair Following Exercise.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, vol. 3, no. 3, Sept. 2004, pp. 131–38. PubMed Central,
  • Murray, Bob, and Christine Rosenbloom. “Fundamentals of Glycogen Metabolism for Coaches and Athletes.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 76, no. 4, Apr. 2018, pp. 243–59. PubMed Central,
  • Takahashi, Yumiko, et al. “Effects of Nutrient Intake Timing on Post-Exercise Glycogen Accumulation and Its Related Signaling Pathways in Mouse Skeletal Muscle.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 11, Oct. 2019, p. 2555. PubMed Central,

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