Pre- and Post-Workout Carbohydrates

16 Mar

high-carbohydrate-foods[1]Carbohydrates are important before your workout, to provide fuel for your exercise session; and after your workout, to replenish glycogen (the stored form of glucose) stores in your working muscles.

But, what are the best types of carbohydrates to consume before and after your workout?

The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring the body’s response to food.  A high GI food will cause a rapid and high elevation in blood glucose and a commensurate rise in blood levels of insulin.  Conversely, low GI foods will lead to a slower, more sustained blood glucose concentration.

Processed foods and foods with added sugar tend to have higher GIs; while less processed foods — including whole grain, high-fiber carbohydrates — usually have lower GIs.  Foods with carbohydrates that also have protein and/or fat also tend to have lower GIs, such as milk and dark chocolate.

Although the quality of your pre-workout meal or snack may not always significantly impact performance, studies lean toward a rationale for low GI carbohydrates before a workout, especially if the workout is longer in duration.

To accelerate restoration of glycogen stores following a workout, high GI carbohydrates may be a better choice.  High GI carbs are also appropriate between games of a double-header, or at half-time of a sporting event.

Here’s an informational article about the glycemic index that describes the differences and effects of high and low GI carbohydrates.


Your thoughts?

2 Responses to “Pre- and Post-Workout Carbohydrates”

  1. Ginny Dashiell March 16, 2015 at 9:40 AM #

    Have to say that article was a bit confusing for me! But I am guessing with my age and my workouts lower GI’s are best. As always, thanks for sharing Brian! >

    • Brian Lebo March 16, 2015 at 10:36 AM #

      Thanks for the feedback, Ginny. I knew as I was writing/publishing this that it just wasn’t quite being conveyed as clearly as I would have liked. I am not a big believer in fasted exercise, for anyone, regardless of their goals. I simply wanted to provide another perspective, especially since there is some scientific rationale for fasted cardio, specifically for fat-burning. As a rule, I think lower GI foods are better, for a variety of health, wellness, and fitness reasons. Situationally, there is probably something to be said for high GI carbs as a “quick fix.” The only caveat to that is the inevitable (and sometimes soon to ensue) “crash” that follows. Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for always providing candid feedback — I value it!

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