Nutrition

Intra Workout Carbs | Carbs Before Or After A Workout

What Are Intra Workout Carbs?

Intra workout carbohydrates have become fashionable in the fitness realm, in fact, I’m actually doing it now. But many have no idea why, or if they even should be consuming so many.

The rationale behind intra workout carbohydrates is to replenish muscle glycogen, our bodies primary source of energy during exercise, which becomes depleted during (to an extent depending on the duration/intensity). If you’re doing 90 plus minutes of exercise, extremely high volume workouts, endurance events, team sports player, for example, football – carbohydrates are a must, otherwise you will have minimal energy and in turn, will result in poor performance.

endurance writer

Why Use Intra Workout Carbs?

An endurance athlete relies heavily on stored energy (muscle glycogen) to sustain performance, so for these individuals, I can see a case for ‘intra workout carbohydrates’. However, during a typical bodybuilding style workout or strength training session i.e exercise within 90 minutes, you’re not depleting muscle glycogen as much as one thinks.

Whether you consume carbohydrates during, immediately or up to 24 hours post workout, plenty of literature has concluded a small if any noticeable difference in recovery rates. If you’re an unassisted athlete within a calorie surplus, intra workout carbohydrates are unlikely to provide a noticeable benefit for you (physiologically).

As well as endurance athletes, there are some other scenarios which intra workout carbohydrates may come in useful. If you’re dieting glycogen will already be depleted, so more likely to deplete during your workout, I can see the merit for intra workout carbohydrates here assuming it does not affect adherence over the course of the day, i.e. you can still be in a calorie deficit with no adherence issues. Then you have those who may train first thing in the AM, those with small appetites thus may benefit from intra workout carbohydrates because it serves as another opportunity to consume calories or those who despite research, ‘feel’
benefits, which brings me onto my reasoning for use.

training carbs

Do Intra Workout Carbs Help?

Using intra workout carbs, I can train harder, I can train for longer and it makes me feel good, thus I’m having improved workouts and I am improving my chances to grow. Is this physiological? Potentially not and it’s more like due to a ‘placebo effect’. A placebo effect is a psychological response of believing something, sometimes when you’re receiving no benefit at all! So the benefits I receive could well be a ‘placebo’ effect, but physiological or not, I’m still benefitting from a belief that I can train harder thus the use-age is justified.

Try it out, if you can adhere to your diet whilst using calories intra workout and you can train harder, again whether that’s psychological or not it’s a valid reason to consume intra workout carbs.

Luckily, my protein stock a variety of intra workout carbohydrates you could use such as Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin, Maltodextrin & Dextrose to name a few.
Thanks for reading guys, if you have any questions feel free to comment below.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.


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