The truth about carbs and training!

Eating carbs at the right time?

The main reason to eat carbs post workout is to replenish the muscle glycogen that you have burned during the workout.

Are you cutting carbs out of your post workout regimen? Do you need to have carbs after your workouts?

The main reason to eat carbs post workout is to replenish the muscle glycogen that you have burned during the workout.

During the workout your main fuel source is glycogen from the muscles.

What is Glycogen some of you may ask?

Glycogen is the storage form of glucose.

The best way to replenish muscle glycogen stores after workouts is to consume high-glycemic carbs as soon as possible after workouts such as potato, bread or pasta.

Consuming pure glucose after a workout means that the body doesn’t need to digest it and it can be absorbed into the bloodstream almost as quickly as it is ingested. This gets a dose of glucose to your spent muscles as rapidly as possible. This will keep your muscles stocked with ample glycogen to fuel your next workout. Glycogen also pulls water into the muscle cells, which keeps them fuller and bigger.

The sugar fructose (50% of the sugar in most fruits, honey, and sucrose or table sugar, is fructose), on the other hand, is a low-glycemic carbohydrate.

Fructose is a form of sugar that the body doesn’t really use well. It can’t be directly turned into muscle glycogen, like glucose, due to its structure. So when you consume fructose (fruit or high-fructose sugars), the fructose does not get absorbed immediately into the bloodstream like glucose/dextrose. Instead the majority of it travels to your liver where it can be converted into glucose and stored in the liver as glycogen, to be released into the blood stream as glucose when the liver deems it necessary to maintain blood glucose levels. So fructose is not a great choice to have postworkout as it won’t optimise muscle glycogen replenishment. And that is one of the main reasons why we recommend opting for the jelly babies against fruit or most other sweets post workout.

Because fructose does not get mainlined into your bloodstream, it does not spike your insulin. While this is good news for most other times of day, it’s another reason why glucose trumps fructose postworkout. Insulin attaches to specific receptors on muscle cells and allows glucose and amino acids to enter the blood stream. Insulin is also important for aiding muscle protein synthesis and decreasing muscle protein breakdown.

When you workout, both muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown go up.

If you consume nothing after the workout then muscle protein breakdown will be greater than muscle protein synthesis.

Here comes the maths

Net protein balance, which is the ability of your muscles to convert protein into muscle mass is equal to muscle protein synthesis minus muscle protein breakdown. So if muscle protein breakdown is greater than synthesis, you have a negative net protein balance. This means that not only will your ability to maximise muscle growth be limited, but you may lose muscle mass, at least in the short term.

At PunchStrong we believe to maximise muscle protein synthesis after workouts, you needed to consume protein and carbs, particularly high-GI carbs but don’t over do it.


To truly maximise muscle recovery and growth your best bet is to consume fast carbs along with protein immediately after workouts. The postworkout window is the best time to maximise the utilisation of those carbs and it helps with the utilisation of other supplements that you should be taking postworkout (such as creatine and carnitine to name a couple).

Immediately after workouts, shoot for about 40 grams of protein from a mix of whey and casein to maximise muscle protein synthesis.

When you are consuming carbs, go with about 30 grams of high-glycemic carbs depending on your weight, goals, and the intensity and duration of the workout. This could be a baked potato… Simple!

Alex Johnson

By Alex Johnson

My friends think of me as a mixed martial arts ninja and I don't disagree with them. I live in Essex (UK) with my wife and dog Kingston, who eats more protein than I do.

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