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LAVERA STEWARTEditor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach
For people in the body fitness world, intra-workout carbs have become fashionable and are getting more popular by the day. Here, we guide you on the best intra workout supplement as well as why and how to consume the best pre workout supplement for the best results.
Intra Workout Carbs: What is It All About?
Intra-workout carbs are food sources that replenish muscle glycogen, which is the body’s primary energy source during exercise. If you are doing 90 minute plus minutes of exercise, high endurance events, or team games, carbohydrates are a must. Otherwise, you will have minimal energy resulting in poor performance.
Should You Use Intra Workout Carbs?
When you are doing high endurance exercises, you deplete a lot of muscle glycogen, and these must be recovered by the body to increase its efficiency during workouts. Intra-workout carbs will sustain such individuals as the average athlete heavily relies on muscle glycogen to sustain performance.
Are Intra Workout Carbs Beneficial to Your Fitness Regimen?
There are no benefits accrued from consuming carbohydrates during your workout if you consume enough carbs during the day to replenish your glycogen levels. However, some people can benefit from consuming carbs during workout.
If you typically cannot perform optimally on a full stomach, you may experience an athletic boost in performance by drinking a fast ingesting carbohydrate –BCAA shakes throughout your workout.
You will also benefit from intra-workout carbohydrate consumption if your training sessions are very high in volume, intensity, and length. This includes high-level crossfit athletes.
If you are a high endurance athlete that exercises for 90 minutes or longer, you will also benefit from intra-workout carbs.
The most critical factor in your intra-workout nutrition is total daily calories and macronutrients. Focus on consistently hitting your macronutrient ranges. If you are consistent with this, you can then begin thinking of nutrient timing. Placing your carbohydrates pre and post-training session is a good idea as such is the time when your body needs and uses more carbs to keep your performance high.
However, you should not go over your daily calories and macros to have a pack of sour patch kids around your training session. Perfect the big picture before you start worrying about the minute details.
- Great for Body Composition
Carbohydrates consumed during training are useful for energy and recovery after a workout, which leaves little chance for them to be stored away as body fat. However, this means that you have to factor in the carbohydrates consumed during training into your total daily intake.
- Eliminate Mental Fatigue
Besides fueling the muscles, carbohydrates also fuel the brain. Being mental-ready, having the sharp focus, and staying aware of technique is crucial for exercise and heavy compound movements. Low energy availability results in foggy focus and decreased ability to safely complete a lift, resulting in injury.
When you consume enough carbs throughout a really tough or long workout, your brain gets enough fuel and will help you avoid mistakes related to mental exhaustion.
- Reversing of the Catabolic Processes
Consuming carbohydrates during long exercise sessions will also blunt the increase in cortisol concentration during and after exercise. When the catabolic processes cortisol and bring down its level, muscle damage is kept at bay and will help you recover more quickly and prepare you better for the next workout session.
- Performance Boost
Your body’s recovery rate and ability take a hit when the reps and sets of your workout session start piling up. Your performance on the long-range will then diminish, and you won’t be able to lift as much total volume in your workout. Simply, it means you cannot achieve your workout goals.
The best intra workout carb will give you a rapidly available fuel source, which will keep your energy levels high for subsequent sets. Consequently, you can keep on working out without the need to stop to rest or reduce your weight.
Having readily available energy also means you will do more total work, which is advantageous for muscle and strength gains. How does that help? The volume drives growth and will increase your potential benefits.
The Science Behind Intra Workout Carb Supplement
Most research on intra workout carbs has been done on endurance athletes that train for long periods. A systematic review by Pochmuller et al. observes that consuming intra-workout carbohydrates is especially beneficial when the exercise bout lasts for at least 90 minutes. This is because glycogen depletion starts to impact athletes, and the consumed carbohydrates can be digested and undergo glycoside to provide the body with ATP at this time.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study by Kulik et al. tested the effects of intra-workout carbs on squats to exhaustion. In the study, subjects were made to do sets of 5 reps to exhaustion. The weight used was 85% of predetermined 1RM. The subjects received either 0.3g-kg-body mass-1 of carbohydrates from Gatorade or a placebo before training and after each successfully completed set.
There was no significant difference between groups in total sets, volume, work, or rate of perceived exertion between the two groups. This study suggests that intra-workout carbohydrates may not benefit an athlete performing resistance training.
Intra Workout Carbs Routine for you
- When to take intra-workout carbs?
Two considerations are essential when deciding how and when to consume carbohydrates during training; the length of your training session and the intensity.
Length of training: you can benefit from intra-workout carbs if you train for longer than an hour. In the case of nonstop, high-intensity sessions, you can benefit from 45-minute sessions.
Sessions shorter than 45 minutes will be adequately fueled by a pre-workout meal and not necessarily intra-workout carbohydrates. Therefore, you should save on carbohydrates by consuming real food before or after your workout if you have short sessions.
Intensity and volume of training: both volume and intensity of your workout dictate the amount you should consume. You benefit from carbs more during workouts of multiple sets of 6 or more repetitions than a workout built on long rest breaks and sets of 3 reps or fewer. However, you will get the benefits when you are busting out a 60-minute high-volume leg day or a 90-minute powerlifting session.
- How many carbs to take?
We crafted a simple to help determine the number of grams of carbs you should take based on the length of your session.
Length of training (minutes):
- Less than 45;
Amount of carbohydrates (grams):
While we recommend these numbers, try a few different amounts to determine what works for you. Also, keep in mind your size, training style, nutrition, and training goals.
To make sure you can tolerate the carbs you are consuming, ensure your mixture contains a 6-8 percent carbohydrate concentration of 15 grams per ounce of fluid. A higher percentage will work against you and slows down digestion, which will make your session uncomfortable.
Intra-workouts are great for body and energy recovery. However, you should take care to not overuse or underuse. Most importantly, use the precise one based on our guide and other factors you might get from reading other intra-workout carbs reviews. We also recommend intra-workout carbs for dieting and may need a lot of energy while minimizing carbohydrate intake.