Carbohydrates, although seemingly insignificant play a major role in your success in any type of sport. Too many carbs and you will gain adipose tissue (bodyfat), not enough and your body may start burning the expensive protein as energy (this happens through glucogenesis, when the Glucogenic amino acids can be converted into glucose).

General Information About Carbs

The idea is to have a regulated amount of the right type of carbohydrate with every meal. Simplifying things a little bit, there are generally two types of carbs, simple and complex. Complex carbs are the preferred choice at all times except for immediately before, during or after exercise. This is because simple carbs give you an insulin spike which is good during and after training, but at other times can result in hunger pangs, tiredness and fat gain. Complex carbs give you a constant stream of energy throughout the day and with the right amount of complex carbs at each meal along with a sufficent amount of protein and a sound training routine, you are highly likely to see some good lean muscle gains without gaining fat.

Carbs come in three basic forms:

  • Simple carbs come in the form of sugars, i.e. glucose in energy drinks is the fastest type of simple carbohydrate, sucrose (normal sugar) is a fast releasing carbohydrate and fructose from fruit is the slower releasing simple carbohydrate.
  • Maltodextrin is a medium releasing carbohydrate and is not really classed as simple or complex.
  • Complex carbs come in the form of oats, wheat, rice, brown bread, potatoes, etc.

Most carb shakes and powders come from either maltodextrin or glucose and are cheap to buy. Maltodextrin is good to add to protein shakes, to turn them into meal replacements and glucose is good to add to post workout protein shakes, when a high GI, high protein drink is required.

TIP: A good way of creating your own meal replacement shake is to buy a fine milled oat powder and combine it with a good protein powder such as Pro-Peptide. You can also add things like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. and blend it all into one shake. You can fine tune the amount of carbs you have in your meal replacement shake using this method.