CARBS 101 - ARE CARBS IMPORTANT POST WORKOUT?
Time to read 5 min
Time to read 5 min
Your post-workout nutrition is incredibly important in shaping how you recover, grow and improve. While protein shakes and protein bars are the typical go-to’s after sweating it out in the gym, it is essential to fuel yourself with a balance of all of the macros, and that includes carbs.
Unfortunately for carbs, they have a pretty poor reputation and are often looked at as ‘unhealthy’ and, well, terrifying. You’ve probably heard friends or family say, ‘I’m cutting carbs’ at some point in your life; in fact, you’ve probably even said it yourself. It’s time to shift that perspective.
Carbs are an essential macronutrient for many reasons, from providing energy to aiding muscle recovery. Eating carbohydrates post-workout helps the body release insulin, which can replenish the glycogen stores in the body and help reduce muscle soreness (Garone, S. 2022).
Obviously, not all carbs are created equal. Simple sugars like those in candy, soda or even white bread can give you a quick burst of energy, but they don’t provide any long-term benefits. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, provide more sustained energy as well as essential vitamins and minerals (Manzella, D. 2023).
Well, as we said, they’re an essential macronutrient, but let’s probe a bit deeper than that.
A lot of people find carbs pretty confusing (I’m one of them), but the key thing to take away is that consuming high-quality carbohydrates is more beneficial than outright restricting yourself from them.
Carbohydrates are found in both healthy and unhealthy and come in three types (no, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are not types). The three main types of carbs are sugars, starches, and fibre, and they are usually split into ‘simple’ or ‘complex’ statuses based on their chemical makeup and how your body utilises them. Simple carbs are easy for your body to digest and include healthy options like fruits and fairy, to unhealthy choices like lollies and soda. Complex carbs take longer to digest and include healthier options like brown rice and oatmeal to unhealthier options like baked goods and white rice (Lawler, M et al. 2021).
Foods high in carbohydrates are essential for a healthy and balanced diet. They are responsible for providing the body with glucose, which is converted into energy to support your overall performance and physical activity. As you can imagine, some carbs are better than others.
Here is an example:
Good carbs (These ones will make you feel great)
Bad carbs (So bad they’re good? No, but they are tasty)
Don’t worry; you don’t need to cut these refined carbs from your diet. It’s just about finding the right balance. Enjoying a can of Coke or a croissant and a biscuit before work isn’t going to kill you. Just make sure you’re not letting it dominate your diet.
Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient when it comes to maximising your recovery. Here’s why.
Carbs support recovery:
Fatigue has often been associated with limited stores of carbohydrates in the muscles and liver after training, so one of the best ways to enhance your recovery is to ensure that your carbohydrate stores are restored after exercise. Consuming carbohydrates after training can help you increase the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis, plus a recovery diet that is high in carbohydrates can help you restore your exercise capacity the day after training (Williams, C. 2004).
Carbs reduce muscle soreness:
If you’re feeling pain after a heavy workout, consuming carbohydrates can help to alleviate that muscle soreness. Carbs like whole grains can help to reduce soreness by replenishing glycogen stores after training while supplying your body with a range of nutrients that include fibre, protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium & copper (Sanitarium).
Carbs support muscle growth:
Fuelling your body with carbohydrates after training can not only help you recover faster, but it can also help to prevent muscle loss and support muscle growth. Consuming enough healthy carbohydrates can improve your energy and optimise your physical performance, which can, in turn, facilitate muscle growth in the aftermath (Meyer, A. 2023).
Carbs optimise protein absorption:
Taking carbohydrates in addition to your usual protein shake after training can actually help you enhance the absorption of protein. When you consume carbohydrates with protein, your body releases insulin. By enhancing your insulin levels, your muscles can absorb amino acids more effectively, especially around exercise (Golden Gate Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2013).
We get it; you can’t always fuel yourself with carbs right after training, and if you usually mix up a protein shake on the way out of the gym, you probably don’t have the appetite for anything else.
Don’t worry. We’ve got the solution.
Incredible Carbs by Evolve is a rapid carb delivery system that is high in carbohydrates and can provide energy after heavy exercise. This formula supports glycogen replacement and is naturally flavoured to support easy stacking with your favourite protein shake. Incredible Carbs offers high-quality carbohydrates to provide energy that can replenish the glycogen burnt during training and can support muscle definition and recovery after training.
Switch Nutrition Carbs is a vegan-friendly formula that offers 100% pure, unflavoured carbohydrates that support energy, glycogen replacement and recovery. This formula is also ideal for stacking and can help to increase your intake of high GI carbs like glucose and maltodextrin, which can improve absorption and increase insulin levels.
Check out the rest of our Carbohydrate Supplements to find the most reliable carb formulas on the market.
What you fuel your body with is essential. While that protein shake is fantastic, don’t neglect the value of quality carbohydrates. Get the balance right, and you’ll be fuelling your body with all of the essential nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Try incorporating sources like oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice and other grains into your diet to get some quality carbs post-workout. Your body will thank you for it!
To learn more about how to support your body after training, check out our blog on Post-Workout Nutrition: Best Post-Workout Food.
If you need any help finding the right supplements to support your body after training, our friendly team at ASN can help. Just reach out online or visit us in-store, and our knowledgeable team can provide you with the right advice to support your goals.
Until then, don’t be afraid of carbs.
Garone, S. 2022, ‘Should I Eat Carbs After My Workout?’ VeryWellFit, accessed 28 April 2023, https://www.verywellfit.com/carbs-after-a-workout-6748707
Manzella, D. 2023, ‘Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates’, Verywellhealth, accessed 28 April 2023, https://www.verywellhealth.com/simple-and-complex-carbohydrates-and-diabetes-1087570#:~:text=Simple%20carbs%20have%20a%20basic,and%20take%20longer%20to%20digest.
Lawler, M et al. 2021, ‘How Do You Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Carbohydrates?’ Everyday Health, accessed 28 April 2023, https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/good-carbs-bad-carbs/
Williams, C. 2004, ‘Carbohydrate intake and recovery from exercise’, Elsevier, accessed 2 May 2023,https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S076515970400053X#:~:text=Consuming%20carbohydrate%20immediately%20after%20exercise,endurance%20capacity%20during%20subsequent%20exercise.
Meyer, A. 2023, ‘How Many Carbs You Should Eat to Build Muscle’, EatingWell, accessed 2 May 2023, https://www.eatingwell.com/article/8024634/carbs-to-build-muscle/#:~:text=Besides%20fueling%20your%20body%20for,you%20to%20maximize%20muscle%20growth.
Sanitarium. ‘6 foods you need to ease muscle soreness naturally’, Sanitarium, accessed 2 May 2023, https://www.sanitarium.com/au/health-nutrition/nutrition/foods-for-muscle-soreness#:~:text=Eating%20quality%20carbs%2C%20like%20wholegrain,%2C%20zinc%2C%20magnesium%20and%20copper.
Golden Gate Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2023, ‘How to Help Your Body Absorb Protein’, Golden Gate Obstetrics & Gynecology, accessed 2 May 2023, https://goldengateobgyn.org/how-to-help-your-body-absorb-protein/#:~:text=By%20consuming%20carbohydrates%20with%20your,the%20best%20protein%2Dabsorbing%20results.