There are two main types of carbs – simple and complex.
The only times you should really be taking in simple carbs are in the morning right after you wake up and post-workout.
The reason simple carbs are effective first thing in the morning is because you have essentially been fasting for the last 8 hours (hopefully you are getting 8 hours of sleep per night).
Therefore, your body needs a quick jolt of carbs and protein which is why you should opt for the simple kind since they digest faster.
However, if you are doing your cardio first thing in the morning you can skip the carbs and have a fast-digesting protein on its own.
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After your cardio session you can have the carbs you need.
Another time bodybuilders should have simple carbs is right after working out.
This will actually help kickstart the recovery process and replenish those glycogen stores.
When you workout your muscles use glucose and glycogen as energy.
After awhile your glycogen and glucose levels get very low and your body simply can’t continue as there is no energy left to fuel you.
When you get into a situation where you have no glycogen stores left your body begins to release a hormone known as cortisol – the same hormone that is released when you are feeling stressed.
Unfortunately this is bad new for us bodybuilders as it has a tendency to consume muscle tissue and convert it into glucose – also known as going catabolic.
This is where a post-workout shake plays a huge factor as it can prevent this from happening.
It will allow insulin to be released which will help replenish those glycogen stores.
Whey protein isolate is definitely the way to go here as it is the fastest absorbing protein out there.
This is also the time to be taking some simple carbs.
Also known as high glycemic carbs, these carbs spike blood sugar and insulin levels.
As a result the glycogen levels are restored. Keep in mind that for the most part high-glycemic carbs should be avoided but this is one of those times you want to be taking them.
Remember you want to get carbs and protein to your muscle cells quickly and elevated insulin levels are the way to do that.
High Glycemic Carbs
Simple carbs consist of two main types of sugars: Monosaccharides and Disaccharides.
One source of these types of sugars is fructose also known as fruit sugar.
A lot of guys assume this is a great source of sugar but the glycemic index is 11 – in other words it does not get digested quickly enough.
As a result it doesn’t raise insulin levels significantly and therefore does not accomplish our targeted post-workout goals.
Dextrose also referred to as glucose is another source.
This can be purchased in powder form and has a glycemic index of 96.
Due to the high glycemic index value it is a popular choice for post-workout shakes and is definitely effective.
However, some people find that it boosts too much and results in some fat gain. Therefore, give it a shot and see how it works for you.
The main source of disaccharides is sucrose or table sugar.
It is made up of both glucose and fructose and has a glycemic rating of 60.
The other is lactose also known as milk sugar and has a rating of 48.
Going purely on glycemic index we can see that dextrose is the way to go.
Complex Carbohydrates – Maltodextrin
This is a complex carbohydrate that is made from potato starch, corn or rice.
However, it is shorter than most complex carbs and is absorbed through the gut which means it raises blood sugar levels as well as insulin levels about as much as dextrose.
Before it can be used by the body maltodextrin passes through the liver at which point it is broken down and therefore the rate at which it can be used as a post-workout recovery carb is diminished. Also, due to this slower processing there is no sudden insulin drop and therefore maltodextrin is not as likely to cause fat gain.
Maltodextrin or Dextrose
Either of these is a solid choice. Try both of them out and see which ones works better for you. In fact, some bodybuilders will mix the two of them together.
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