Guide To Post Workout Carbs for Muscle Recovery and Growth

Guide To Post Workout Carbs for Muscle Recovery and Growth

Carbohydrates should be taken twice daily – once in the morning and after working out. Carbohydrates are necessary in the morning after a lengthy time of fasting during sleep. Therefore a simple carbohydrate source as soon as you awaken can be beneficial. However, in case you decide to work out on some morning cardio, then take a protein shake instead.

The second time will be your post workout carbs where you will be consuming simple carbohydrates after a proper workout session. This is crucial since the carbs induce recovery and muscle growth. A good workout leaves your body depleted of all glucose and glycogen. This means you are practically without any energy and hence can fall under stress because of the secretion of cortisol hormones a.k.a the “stress hormone”. Its effects are catabolic in nature.

post workout shakeThis hormone can cause damage to muscle tissue and converts proteins into glucose. A process called gluconeogenesis follows which produces glucose from the amino acids within the liver, ultimately resulting in muscle tissue being lost. The post-workout carbohydrate shake prevents such a condition from occurring by allowing insulin (an anabolic hormone) to be released.

Getting the carbs and proteins to the muscle cells as soon as possible is extremely important. This elevates insulin which ushers nutrients into the muscle cells. In this case, high-glycemic carbohydrates are the best.

There are two different types of carbohydrates-

  • Complex Carbohydrates
  • Simple Carbohydrates

What are Complex Carbohydrates?

top post workout foods for building muscleComplex carbohydrates in the form of maltodextrin are obtained from potato starch, corn and rice. Its glucose molecules are loosely bonded while the molecular chain is shorter than the other complex carbohydrates. Nevertheless, it has the potential to spike insulin levels just like dextrose.

Although maltodextrin is as efficient as dextrose, it still has to pass through the liver where the bonds between glucose molecules are broken down. Thus the rate at which it replenishes glycogen is slower than that of dextrose. However, since its metabolism rate is slow it doesn’t result in a speedy drop in blood sugar and insulin levels, as with the case of dextrose. Also it doesn’t cause fat gain.

What are Simple Carbohydrates?

Post workout carbs can usually consists of simple carbohydrates are your simple sugars that are naturally present in milk and fruit, including other foods. There are two types of simple sugars-


This consists of one single sugar molecule. Dextrose, a monosaccharide commonly called glucose is available in the form of powder for consumption. Its glycemic index rating is 96 for a 50 gram portion. This sugar is mostly used in post-workout shakes, but some reports claim that it can be fattening instead and hence should be consumed at your own discretion.


This consists of double sugar molecule. It includes in its composition 1glucose molecule and 1 fructose molecule. Sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk) are common forms of disaccharides with their respective ratings being 60 for a 25 gram portion-the former and 48 for a 25 portion- the latter. However, unlike dextrose neither of these can be passed off as a good post-workout shake.

Maltodextrin and Dextrose

consumption of a combination of maltodextrin and dextroseUltimately maltodextrin and dextrose are the two best possible options. Trying each one individually to see which is better is good, but combining them in a 50/50 ratio is way more beneficial. In a way, this combination is more logical since it combines the positive attributes from each of the sources.

There are several health benefits associated with the consumption of a combination of maltodextrin and dextrose, some of which are – optimal glycogen replenishment & hydration, improved performance, and better digestion.

Waxy Maize

Obtained from corn starch, it is the newest carbohydrate source that has been made available. It can be absorbed very fast within the body and allows for the swift absorption of other supplements such as creatine.

Similar to the above mentioned carbs, it too raises insulin levels. Waxy maize has also been combined with other formulas to increase its efficiency as a post-workout carb supplement. Thus in doing so, the insulin responses can be tremendously greater. But you can even mix waxy maize formulas with other protein powders as well to ensure you get back your lost energy as well as stimulate recovery and muscle growth.

How much of Post Workout Carbs should be consumed in addition with Proteins?

training routineYour body weight and the intensity of your training routine are the determining factors here. The most common suggestion from various sources is .25 (cutting) to .50 (mass gaining) per pound of lean body mass. The exact ratio of protein should be 2 to 1, implying that for lean body mass types of around 170 pounds 42 grams of carbohydrates & 21 grams of protein for cutting. Similarly, for mass gaining- 85 grams of carbs and 43 grams of protein. This quantity must be ingested within the given training time of say 30 minutes or so. Also having a healthy meal within an hour of your shake can have major positive results.