For decades and decades now, elite athletes, top performers, strength and conditioning coaches, and nutritionists all over the world have been telling active individuals that there’s nothing better for their bodies to consume after working out than a solid meal filled with complex carbohydrates. But according to research recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, this may not be the case. In fact, complex carbohydrates may not be the best thing for your body after working out – they may be one of the reasons why you aren’t getting anywhere near the results you’ve been hoping for.
Carbohydrates aren’t all created equally
The first thing that you have to realize about carbohydrates (and one of the areas that the research project really focused on) is that there is a world of difference between simple carbohydrates which are effortlessly digested in the body and translated into almost immediately usable energy and complex carbohydrates that release their energy stores slowly over time.
Simple carbohydrates are also much more likely to spike your body’s blood sugar level and insulin supply, and they transform into usable energy just as easily as they transform into fat cells. Complex carbohydrates – the kind of carbohydrates that slowly break down and more evenly distribute their energy – are much better options for athletes that are going to be consuming carbohydrates at all.
Carb cycling is much more effective than carb overloading
That research paper that we mentioned above conducted a study over five years that focused on the impact carbohydrates had on 21 competitive triathletes that utilized a different carbohydrate release programs over the process of the study.
Half of the trainees were put on a typical training diet (loads of carbohydrates after each and every workout) where the other half was encouraged to cycle carbohydrates – fill up with carbs after workouts one week and then you eliminate carbs altogether the next week – and then they were tested to see how their athletic abilities fared and what their body composition was like.
Those that cycled (heavy carbs one week, no carbs the next) were not only able to improve their overall endurance and their ability to fight against fatigue, but they also built more lean muscle mass, lost more fat, and were generally healthier than those that eight carbs after each and every training session.
If you’re looking to transform your athletic ability and want to get your nutrition right, this is something that you’re going to want to consider.