Do Carbs After a Workout Help with Muscle Recovery?
We all agree that consuming protein after a workout is beneficial for muscle recovery & growth. But, does the same hold true for carbs? Is there more to post workout nutrition than just protein?
Importance of Carbs After a Workout
After a workout, your body is weaker than it was when you began. Muscle fibers have been damaged and energy stores depleted. The recovery process now needs to begin to get your body back to homeostasis. Protein is needed to repair damaged muscles, but carbs are also needed to replenish lost glycogen stores. Carbs help you feel less fatigued and are a necessary fuel source. You may feel fine without them for a couple days, but soon you’ll likely feel more fatigued and see a decline in athletic performance. Like protein, the most ideal time to consume carbs is within 30 minutes after a workout.
Kelly Jones, a sports and fitness dietitian, sums it up.
“Poor recovery from exercise due to lack of carbs will lead to excessive hunger and binge eating tendencies, lethargy, and feelings of stress as well as increased muscle soreness. Over time, it can lead to muscle weakening, poor immune function and increased injury risk.”
Which Carbs to Choose
Not all carbs are created equal. When it comes to muscle recovery, you want to avoid highly processed and refined carbs. These will make your blood sugar spike and crash. Instead, go for complex carbs, like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, or quinoa. These take longer for your body to digest, keeping your blood sugar more balanced.
Timing plays an important role in the body’s optimal absorption of carbs after a workout. Carbohydrate-rich foods with a moderate to high glycemic index should be eaten immediately after a workout. This helps get glycogen levels back to normal at a quicker rate. However, consuming carbs with a high glycemic index consistently throughout the day isn’t recommended. For more stable blood sugar levels, eat complex carbs for meals and snacks.
Argument Against Carbs
Some experts say that eating carbs after a workout should be avoided – claiming that consuming a lot of carbohydrate rich foods spikes insulin, causing chronically high blood sugar levels. Insulin is shown to promote the storage of excess carbs as fat and leads to the body being less able to control blood sugar levels. However, the key here is the quantity of carbs consumed. In high amounts, this is true even whole grains can spike blood sugar levels. The easy solution to this is to eat enough carbs to replenish, but don’t go overboard.
Muscle recovery after a workout is necessary to maintain health and performance. Consuming carbs with protein after a workout can help your body get back to homeostasis quicker. Nutrition is one component of muscle recovery, but don’t forget about other parts like hydration, active recovery, and sleep. If you feel tired & sore after workouts, being more conscious of recovery is a must. Keep in mind, better recovery doesn’t have to mean more time. Marc Pro allows you to recover while doing activities you’re already doing.