Best Post-Workout Carb Supplements for Endurance Training
We often think about what we need to eat before and during a workout in order to crush it, but the foods we eat after can have a huge impact on recovery. Let’s say one of your goals this year is to run your first marathon. Refueling your body after a long training run is essential for quick recovery and helping you reach those important daily goals without hitting the wall. The best fuel for this job: carbohydrates.
Yes, we know that carbs like bread, pasta, and rice, which our bodies digest into glucose (causing blood sugar levels to rise) get a bad rap in some diet circles. But they are important for our body’s immediate energy needs – from breathing, thinking and walking to running and working out. Additionally, when we don’t use all that glucose in the blood for immediate energy, it turns into glycogen, a form of sugar that can be easily stored by our muscles and liver for later access whenever we are not “nourished” (absorbent state).
Muscle glycogen is the predominant fuel source that athletes use (and must subsequently restore) for endurance training – for any intense aerobic activity that lasts longer than an hour. In fact, your training and endurance performance are directly linked to these glycogen stores. Once it’s worn out during training, you’ll feel that telltale low energy and fatigue. And while some athletes claim they can function on lower carbohydrate levels than is generally recommended, there is a big difference between “functioning” and performing optimally.
The aforementioned high glycemic index carbohydrate foods you eat (adding potatoes, fruits and maltodextrin supplements to the above list) will help replenish glycogen stores when eaten immediately after a workout. ‘endurance. Why? Because muscle tissue is like a sponge and therefore quickly absorbs glucose from high glycemic index carbohydrates when needed.
So how many carbs should you eat after your workout. The best way to replenish muscle glycogen quickly is to consume 1.2g of high glycemic index carbohydrates per 1kg of body weight immediately after exercise. Waiting more than two hours after exercise before replenishing carbohydrates will reduce glycogen synthesis by up to 50%.
What can you do if high glycemic carbohydrates are not available immediately after exercise? Go for a high-quality supplement to ensure that you are replacing glycogen for optimal performance and recovery. Here are seven of our favorites.
Jordan MazurMS, RD, is the Nutrition Coordinator and Team Sports Dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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