Why use fast-digesting carbohydrates in and around training?
The use of fast-digesting carbohydrates in and around training has many potential benefits for both endurance and strength sports. Many forms of exercise will deplete glycogen stores. Glycogen is the muscles’ primary ‘go to’ source of energy for high intensity activities such as weight training and sprinting that require an energy source, as it can be used without oxygen for short bursts when demand for energy is greater than the rate at which we can provide it from sources that require oxygen to sustain activity.
If we think of the energy we use as a continuum, starting with the use of glucose and glycogen as a fuel during high-intensity activities, then we shift towards part glucose oxidation and the use of fats as a fuel source as we get to moderate activities, then at low-intensity activities such as walking or performing normal daily activities we shift to use fat as a primary fuel source. The important thing to note here is that even though we shift the proportion of where we get our energy from, glycogen from the liver and muscles will eventually be depleted if not replaced.
This is important to consider from a performance and recovery perspective for anyone involved with strength sports, looking to develop muscle and particularly endurance sports, where glycogen levels can become depleted rapidly. It is often suggested that if an event lasts longer than 60 minutes, this is likely to require some form of intra-event carbohydrate feeding to support performance.
Replenishing our muscles with carbs
When we look at replenishing our muscles after an event or training session, it makes sense to use a majority of slow digesting carbohydrates to provide the fuel to do this as it provides more stable blood sugar levels and a more favourable insulin response.
However, there are times when we might want to ‘spike’ our insulin by using a fast-digesting carb source that elevates blood glucose quickly. The reason for this is that this will raise insulin levels and this can be used to our advantage to promote pathways that both prevent muscle breakdown and promote recovery and muscle growth.
It is an opportune time to consume this type of carbohydrate in the post-training session window when the muscles are highly sensitive to insulins action and more likely to shuttle carbohydrates straight to muscle glycogen to aid recovery and muscle growth.
Why elevate blood glucose levels prior to an event or training?
The use of carbohydrate sources that elevate blood glucose levels prior to an event or training can be used for a couple of reasons: firstly, from a performance perspective increasing glucose levels allows greater availability not only to the muscles but the brain, giving us a pre-activity boost in mood. This is important for performance across a number of sports/activities but especially for those training on a fat loss diet to support training output, and also by raising insulin you are going to help protect muscle which might be put at risk on a sustained and severe calorie deficit to achieve low levels of body fat like we see in physique athletes.
What fast-digesting carbohydrates are there?
There are many forms of fast-digesting carbohydrates that are commonly used for these purposes including glucose itself and various forms of maltose, dextrose and dextrin’s. In this article we will take a little look at an increasingly popular form of dextrin; highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD).
So why is HBDC so different to many of the other forms?
Well firstly, many forms of carbohydrates attract and hold a lot of water with them; which if we consume a large number of carbohydrates in a short period, we run the risk of some of this passing through from our small intestine (where glucose should be absorbed) into the large intestine. Once in the large intestine, these forms of sugars hold onto water in the colon that the body wants to reabsorb and therefore the only way for your body to get rid of the water and glucose in the colon is to flush it out rapidly… This is a condition called osmotic diarrhoea and as the name suggests, this is not something you want to happen, especially mid-training session or event!
Cluster Dextrin™ is considered the king of fast digesting carbs being a versatile product capable of fulfilling the roles described above more efficiently and effectively than other carbohydrate sources. How does it do this? Well, Cyclic dextrin in Cluster Dextrin™ form is highly soluble in water which means that it is easily and quickly absorbed when compared to other sources. Because of this, there is less chance of gastrointestinal discomfort associated with high doses of other carbohydrate sources, meaning that refuelling, recovery and muscle growth can take place at an accelerated rate.
This product should be firmly on your supplement radar, regardless of what your training goals are; as such it has been used by #TeamCSN athletes across a myriad of sports.
What are the main benefits of CSN Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin
- Fast digesting carbohydrate.
- Restores glycogen stores more efficiently than other sources.
- Reduces negative effects that high doses of high GI carbs can have, such as bloating and cramping.
- Useful for both weight training and endurance type activities.
How does cluster dextrin help bodybuilders and endurance athletes
For bodybuilders and endurance athletes, one of the main advantages is the rate at which HBCD clears the stomach; this is beneficial as it means that for those struggling to eat enough food to grow, they can have something that will increase calorie intake without them needing to eat lots of starchier carbohydrate sources that have high food volumes and can lead to a sluggish or bloated feeling (although these should still be the main portion of the diet).
For endurance athletes, this will allow adequate fuel without feeling bloated and this is especially important on high training volumes or sports that may have multiple events in a day or several days of competition were eating ‘real food’ might not be an option to support recovery.
Will HBCD suit everyone?
HBCD is not a supplement for everyone, but for the kind of athlete looking to get that extra 1% in terms of recovery and performance for those who put their body through an incredible amount of training and/or performance stress, then HBCD is definitely something to consider adding into your supplement stack, especially if you are suffering from poor recovery.