If you have spent any amount of time in the gym, then you have very likely heard of carbohydrate powder. You may also be wondering what all the fuss is about. Some of you may be asking, in general, what is carbohydrate powder? Well, read on as we show the what, how, and why of carbohydrate powder.
Friend or Foe
Carbohydrate supplement powders are an excellent choice if you want to maximize muscle growth and energy during workouts. Traditionally, carbohydrate supplements were comprised of simple sugars like dextrose or maltodextrin. Recent formulas have taken on a whole new level of complexity. Carbohydrate powders are designed to provide speedy results and function, as long as you know when and how to take them.
Why Use Carbohydrate Supplements
When it comes to what fuels your body during a workout, your muscles rely heavily on adenosine triphosphate. ATP is stored in short supply in your muscles. During high-intensity workouts like weight training, muscles use ATP to drive muscle contraction. The problem is, your body almost immediately needs to make more to replenish its reserves. To accomplish this, your body turns to stored glycogen (carbs) in the muscles to generate additional ATP.
If you prefer your workouts intense, then you are going to need a lot of energy. Using carbs to supplement before and during a workout can help keep the glycogen that fuels your muscles readily available for immediate use, allowing you to keep your workout intensity on full throttle. Post-workout supplementation also helps to replenish lost muscle glycogen, loading the muscles for the next workout.
When and How Much
The first thing to consider is how many carbs your body needs. Most athletes will target 20 to 40 percent of their daily calorie intake to be from carbs. Take note of your carb intake from both dietary and supplemental resources when calculating your total.
Taking carbohydrate supplements before and during a workout helps ensure your muscles remain in an anabolic state and minimizes the effects of catabolic muscle loss. That’s right. As your body uses ATP, glycogen, and amino acid reserves, your muscles will naturally breakdown. Consuming a carbohydrate supplement while also including fast-digesting proteins or amino acids will help with glycogen refueling and also help target amino acids to the muscle to boost workout recovery. If your goal is to build muscle, consider supplementing with a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of carbs to protein. This ratio has been shown to be most effective for increasing muscle growth and improving overall body composition and strength in athletes.
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