Carbohydrates are our first source of energy for any movement, and the preferential energy source for our metabolism.
From getting out of bed in the morning, running down stairs and lifting weights to walking and even brain function - basically, we are using carbohydrates all the time. They are scientifically known as saccharides, which have four chemical groups: disaccharides, monosaccharides, polysaccharides and oligosaccharides. There are two types of carbohydrates, with half belonging to simple carbohydrates and the other half to complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are from sugars. They release quickly and instantly, and include disaccharides and monosaccharides. If you feel you’re lacking in energy than having a sugary sweet such as a wine gum or an energy gel will provide you with a quick burst of energy within about five minutes of taking it.
Complex carbohydrate come from pasta, potatoes and rice etc, and include polysaccharides and oligosaccharides. They release energy slowly, hence why sports stars often carb load the night before a match or competition to get the energy they need stored away for the next day. This type of energy is best for sports or exercise that’s longer, such as long distance running.
If you eat simple carbs then your digestive system will digest them quickly, causing a large and fast spike in your insulin levels which are released whenever you eat any form of carbohydrate. When you eat complex carbs the insulin spike won’t be as high or quick, but will be steady and subtle, allowing your carbohydrate energy to be released slowly.
Carbohydrates are broken down to either glycogen or glucose, depending on what sort of energy is required. Glucose is the number one preferred energy source for brain function and working muscles.
Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen when the body doesn’t require glucose at the time of digestion. Glycogen is stored within muscle tissue and the liver so it can be used when it is needed at a later time. When the body needs it, it will be transformed back into glucose. If all your stores are full of glycogen then the carbohydrates will be stored as fat. This is why consuming the right amount and type of carbohydrates is so important to everyone in everyday life, and not just weight lifters, athletes and bodybuilders.
Protein Dynamix have a wide range of carbohydrate products to help enhance your performance, including our Dynapro Gain weight gain whey powder, which is a high protein weight gainer, formulated to support muscle growth. To replenish your depleted carbohydrate stores post workout, our Dynapro Recovery whey protein is for you. Specially designed to promote the best, optimal gains outside of the gym, the highest quality protein is contained within this formula. This will help to support the maintenance and growth of muscle mass.
How much carbohydrates do you need per day?
The daily average is 40-60% of calorie intake should be carbs. To help build muscle it’s good to know that 1 gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories. Weight lifters normally aim for 50% of their daily food intake to be carbohydrate.
What is carbohydrate good for?
It is good at providing your body with the everyday energy required to survive, as well as helping to build your strength and muscle - which in turn helps to provide you with an improved performance when training. Plus, by reducing your carbohydrate intake you are hindering your supply of protein, which is counter productive as this can cause your muscle mass to decrease.
Can I have too much carbohydrate/will carbohydrates make me put on weight?
Yes! By eating the right sort of carbs and eating the right amount for you, i.e. not eating too much, plus exercising, it will help to keep your carbohydrate stores topped up, with no excess being stored as adipose tissue (fat). Eat too much and don’t exercise and then yes, you will put on weight as fat.
Carbohydrates will also help build your muscle, along with protein, so you will put weight on via increasing your muscle mass too.
Should I have carbohydrates at certain times of the day?
It is a good idea to have a carb and protein rich snack before you exercise, or eat an easily digested meal about an hour before you exercise. This shouldn’t include fat, as this takes longer to digest.
It’s good to also have a carb/protein snack up to an hour after you have exercised to help replenish your energy stores quicker.