Carbohydrates are the ultimate paradox.
On the one hand, they’re blamed as the root cause of all things evil, including obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, they are the ultimate training fuel for athletes allowing for superior performance and record-setting achievements.
You’re stuck in the middle trying to decipher truth from fear mongering and left completely, utterly, and hopelessly confused?
While it’s true that the excess consumption of carbohydrates can play a role in the progression of a host of nefarious diseases, consumed in the right amounts, and at the right time, carbohydrates are akin to rocket fuel, powering mind and body to heights unseen.
Leading the anti-carb movement are groups such as the Atkins loyalists, paleo diehards and keto converts. These groups profess carbohydrates are the root cause of all things terrible and horrible in the world, but what these groups lack in sophistication and understanding they make up for in sheer fear mongering and marketing.
The truth is, if you’re killing it daily in the gym or on the field, you NEED carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel, and without them, you simply won’t perform to your truest potential.
Today, we’re going to take a good, hard, and honest look at carbohydrates and their importance for improving performance and aiding muscle growth!
How Carbohydrates Aid Muscle Growth
When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into smaller and smaller chains of sugars, from polysaccharides to oligosaccharides and then to monosaccharides (simple sugars).
Once ingested and broken down, these sugars are then transferred to the blood stream where it can be absorbed by your muscles and stored as glycogen, the form of “stored energy” your muscles use during intense exercise.
Unfortunately, your body only stores enough glycogen for about 2 hours of hardcore training, and if you’re training longer than two hours, but not consuming some kind of intra workout nutrition, fatigue sets in, reducing your performance and leading to the sensation of “bonking” or hitting the wall.[2,3]
To prevent this depletion of glycogen and “bonking” sensation, you might think carb loading the night before might be a good idea. While that’s an “ok” idea, a better idea might be to sip on some fast digesting carbohydrates immediately prior to and during training. Examples of these fast acting carbs include Carb10, cyclic dextrin, or palatinose. We’ll touch on the best training carbohydrate a little later on, but let’s get back to why you want carbs around training.
One last thing to mention before getting to how and why carbs are important for training concerns “fat adapted” training. A popular training trend with the low-carb/no-carb crowd. Fat adapted means your body is running on its stored body rather than glycogen. The way you become fat adapted is essentially running an extremely low carb diet for prolonged periods of time, and during this time, your body “shifts” from running on carbs to running on stored body fat and ketones.
While “running on fat” may be beneficial for endurance type training, when it comes to building muscle and excelling at the “explosive” sports, carbs are king. Fats simply can’t provide energy fast enough to keep up with the body’s demand.[4,5]
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the benefits of consuming carbohydrates around training:
How Carbohydrates Improve Performance
Carbohydrates serve a vital role in the production of ATP, the cellular “currency” of energy” in the body, as well as the anaerobic energy system of the body. These two energy sources provide the preferred source of fuel for high-intensity exercise.
Enhance Nutrient Delivery
Eating carbohydrates around your workout causes your pancreas to release insulin, a powerful nutrient shuttling and anti-catabolic hormone that delivers essential nutrients, such as glucose and muscle building amino acids into muscle cells, improving stamina and muscle growth.
Enhance Neural Drive
What’s neural drive?
Neural drive is the “spiking” activity of motor neurons in your body that cause your muscles to contract with maximum force. Consuming carbohydrates enhances your neural drive, which allows you to exert more strength, power, and force during training and it also helps blunt fatigue and maintain focus during training.
Reduces Muscle Breakdown
As we’ve discussed before during our in-depth look at insulin, eating carbohydrates stimulates the pancreas to release insulin into the blood. Insulin “picks up” glucose and other nutrients and drives them into the muscle, which combats muscle breakdown that can occur during training. This helps support a positive net protein balance, which is crucial to growing more muscle.[10,11]
Ingesting fast acting carbohydrates (like C-Block 10) during and after training can improve recovery and help alleviate DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Recovering faster allows you to get back in the gym faster, which means you can train more frequently, ultimately meaning more gains.
Taken altogether, it’s pretty clear to see that carbohydrates are king when it comes to maximizing performance and muscle growth. But deciding which carb is right for you and your training needs isn’t always the easiest decision, so let’s take a look at the best carbs for training.
Ideal Training Carbs
Most of you with any sort of history of training regularly know what the “good” carbohydrates are (whole grains, green vegetables, potatoes, fruit, etc). These “slow” carbs provide a steady and sustained release of energy throughout the day, but immediately before training and even during training, you probably don’t want to be knocking back a pound of sweet potatoes just to get the carbs you need to keep training.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of sports scientists, hard training athletes now have performance carbohydrates which are rapid-digesting carbs that provide an immediate source of energy for your muscles when you need it most. There have been a slew of these fast carbs that have debuted in recent years, but none have the power of C-Block 10.
C-Block 10 — The Optimal Training Fuel
Carbohydrates are critical to maximizing your performance in the gym or on the field and when you’re looking for the ultimate athletic carbohydrate, there’s no better choice than C-Block 10.
C-Block 10 is a premium quality training carbohydrate containing 25g of pure Carb10™, a novel carbohydrate that touts lightning-fast digestion with minimal impact on your insulin levels. Due to this, C-Block 10 is ideal before, during, and after training, but, due to its low insulin impact, it can also be used any other time of day when you need to top off your energy stores. C-Block 10 is easy on the stomach and mixes seamlessly into any pre workout, intra workout, or protein shake, improving both taste and texture of your other favorite training supplements.
Try C-Block 10 today and see why carbohydrates no longer need to be feared and why they should be a staple component of your diet!
- Christmass MA, Dawson B, Passeretto P, Arthur PG. A comparison of skeletal muscle oxygenation and fuel use in sustained continuous and intermittent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999;80(5):423-435. doi:10.1007/s004210050614.
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- Mul JD, Stanford KI, Hirshman MF, Goodyear LJ. Exercise and Regulation of Carbohydrate Metabolism. Progress in molecular biology and translational science. 2015;135:17-37. doi:10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.07.020.
- Green AL, Hultman E, Macdonald IA, Sewell DA, Greenhaff PL. Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans. Am J Physiol. 1996;271(5 Pt 1):E821-6. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.1996.271.5.E821.
- Farina D, Negro F, Dideriksen JL. The effective neural drive to muscles is the common synaptic input to motor neurons. The Journal of Physiology. 2014;592(Pt 16):3427-3441. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2014.273581.
- Jeukendrup AE, Chambers ES. Oral carbohydrate sensing and exercise performance. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2010;13(4):447-451. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e328339de83.
- Borsheim E, Cree MG, Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Aarsland A, Wolfe RR. Effect of carbohydrate intake on net muscle protein synthesis during recovery from resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2004;96(2):674-678. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00333.2003.
- Howarth KR, Phillips SM, MacDonald MJ, Richards D, Moreau NA, Gibala MJ. Effect of glycogen availability on human skeletal muscle protein turnover during exercise and recovery. J Appl Physiol. 2010;109(2):431-438. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00108.2009.
- Poole C, Wilborn C, Taylor L, Kerksick C. The Role of Post-Exercise Nutrient Administration on Muscle Protein Synthesis and Glycogen Synthesis. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2010;9(3):354-363.