Dextrose… waxy maize… maltodextrin…

The practise of consuming huge doses of simple post workout carbs has pretty much become a religion in bodybuilding circles.

You finish your workout, you mix up a post workout shake consisting of whey protein and “rapidly absorbing carbs”, and you make sure to consume it immediately following your training session.

Consuming post workout carbs in the form of simple sugars seems to be a logical move. After all, your glycogen levels need to be re-elevated, and you need to “spike your insulin” in order to increase the absorption of your post workout protein.

Well, not so fast.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with consuming simple carbohydrates after your workout, it’s not the critical bodybuilding “must” that virtually everyone has made it out to be.

Let me dissect this myth for you in 2 simple steps…

2 Post Workout Carb Myths Debunked

First of all, a standard weight training workout does not deplete glycogen levels to any significant degree.

Unless you’re performing exhaustive endurance work, your glycogen levels will only be depleted by a maximum of about 30% after an intense weight training session. And unless you were planning on training those same muscle groups again in the next 24 hours or so, this is really of no practical concern.  (This may be a legit issue for hard-training athletes who work out multiple times per day, but not for the average bodybuilder.)

Because of this, the idea that you must immediately replenish these glycogen levels is simply false. By finishing your workout and resuming your regular nutrition plan, those glycogen levels will be naturally re-elevated and ready for your next workout.

Secondly, the notion that insulin levels must be “spiked” in order to maximize nutrient absorption is unfounded to begin with.

The reality is that the body always keeps blood sugar and insulin levels within a fairly precise range regardless of the specific foods (or amounts of those foods) you consume.

Not only that, but most high protein foods elicit a significant insulin response from the body in the same way that carbohydrates do. For example, beef has an insulin score of 51, which is around the same as that of brown rice, brown pasta or rye bread. Whey protein is also highly insulinogenic.

With these 2 points out of the way, it should be pretty clear why slamming 80 grams of maltodextrin post workout is simply unnecessary. There is no need to immediately replenish your glycogen, nor is there any need to “spike” your insulin levels.

Is consuming simple post workout carbs going to hurt you?

No. That’s not what I’m saying.  If you prefer it, and if it fits into your daily carbohydrate requirements, a liquid post workout carb source is totally fine.

It’s convenient and is an easy source of carbs for those on higher calorie diets. In addition, many people find that they don’t have much of an appetite following workouts, and this is where liquid carbs can come in handy as well.

The point here is merely to demonstrate that post workout simple sugars are not a necessity.

Whether you consume dextrose, maltodextrin, brown rice or potatoes, it’s not going to make any practical difference to your bottom line muscle gains.

Keep your pre and post workout nutrition simple. Get in a good source of high quality protein and carbohydrates within a couple hours of hitting the gym, followed by the same thing within a couple hours of completing your workout.

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