Carbs have a reputation of being bad if not eaten in proportion but they have some good benefits too. In this article, we speak about the benefits of carbohydrates, specifically fast acting carbohydrates.
Slow-acting carbohydrates release in the body over a longer period of time and provide energy for a longer period whereas fast-acting carbohydrates release themselves at a very fast rate and provide instant energy.
Let’s have a deeper look into fast acting carbohydrates and their action.
Athletes usually consume fast-acting carbohydrates just before and after a workout. This is because fast-acting carbs provide instant energy and it is as simple as consuming sugar or glucose. Fast-acting carbs restore glycogen levels in the blood very quickly, hereby helping to stop craving for rich calorie diets.
When we workout, the body utilizes glycogen to give us energy. Glycogen levels are required to be refilled post a workout for a better muscle recovery. There are scientists that suggest that there shouldn’t be any need to restore glycogen levels as the body restores them within 24 hours but let’s think about it – would we really wait for 24 hours? Do you wait this much for the body to manufacture amino acids or protein? The answer is a big NO!
After a workout, the body and mind is in a lethargic and tired condition. Insulin levels are low, there is a craving for calorie-dense food, and depleted glycogen levels contribute to all these. Consumption of fast-acting carbs ensure metabolic support and refill the glycogen levels, thereby restoring the body’s balance.
80% is a large amount and it should be refilled very quickly. Carbohydrates are the fuel for your body and they should never be ignored – there shouldn’t be a delay of more than 30 minutes as research has shown that glycogen restoration decreases by 50% if delayed by 2 hours.
The benefits of consuming high glycemic carbs is immediately after the workout ensure that the muscle fiber fullness is increased as stored glycogen draws water into the cells.
Fast-Acting Carbs and Insulin Levels
Fast acting carbs spike the insulin levels. Insulin is a anabolic hormone and its role in promoting muscle synthesis is often talked about. Insulin was thought to promote MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis) and was helpful in reducing muscle catabolism. Some research shows that insulin is over-hyped and doesn’t deliver; in fact BCAAs contribute to MPS along with protein and other amino acids.
A study on post-workout meals with protein then ones with protein plus fast carbs was conducted. It was found that there is almost no difference in the insulin spike level in both the cases and it was concluded that a protein shake is enough to spike insulin levels.
Insulin still remains of greater importance to humans as it attaches to some specific receptor cells to ease the infusion of creatine and amino acids into the cells. Research shows that insulin is very important for creatine functioning.
Misconceptions Associated with Fast Carbohydrates
A common misconception most people have is that carbs will make them fat. Post-workout is the period where the body utilizes every single nutrient it gets for releasing energy. The post-workout meal is the meal where you can eat like a beast without worry!
Ideally, a post workout meal should be consumed within first 45 minutes after a workout and should have good quality protein source and a fast carbohydrate source like Dextrose. Addition of BCAA has its own benefits.
Fast Carbs in a Pre-Workout Diet
A pre-workout meal is usually consumed an hour before the workout. A pre-workout meal contains protein as well as carbs. While the protein sources might differ, carbs should be fast digesting ones. A slow digesting carb will stay in the stomach for a longer time duration and you would feel bloated while performing those squats! Fast-digesting carb sources including dextrose can be consumed keeping in mind the rate of digestion and the energy infusion.
Fast carbs should be eaten in the pre- and post-workout diet for maximum results. It also has to be noted that consuming only fast carb before the workout will rush energy but there is a chance you will quickly crash as soon as it gets depleted. It’s advisable to consume fast-acting carbs along with a source of low-GI carb like oats or fruit.
Fast Carb Dosage
The amount of fast carbs to be consumed is based on the individual’s choice. People who train insane need more whereas people training on the lower scale may require a bit less. Usually, fast-release carbs should be consumed at around 20-50 grams, post-workout for heavy lifters. People who lift low can consume 20-30 grams after a workout.
A good suggestion would be to mix in slow-releasing carbs for greater benefits. In that case 25g of fast carbs can be taken along with 25g of slow digesting carbs.
If your goal is Ketosis, make sure you consume most of your carbs pre- and post-workout. The Ketogenic diet allows a 50 grams carb window, therefore the carbs could be split equally in two halves.