Need Help? Customer Support 1-866-236-8417

Confessions Of A Carbophobe: Carbohydrates For Muscle Growth!

If you've ever carb loaded, you'll know what a great feeling it is, and if you haven't, you'll never forget your first creatine loading experience. I must admit that I was actually a little giddy from this new experience. Here are my confessions:

Article Summary:
  • Author David Barr was extremely skeptical of Vitargo S2.
  • David was surprised by a fuller feeling after his post-workout shake.
  • David found that effects similar to creatine use were being produced.

  • Confessions Of A Carbophobe:
    Carbohydrates For Muscle Growth!

    Although I've always labeled myself as a protein/amino acid guy, I didn't realize that this had actually turned me into a bit of an anti-carb guy. And as one who practices what he preaches I began dropping my carbs on a regular basis. Even the sacred post-workout window, which is a myth for everything but glycogen restoration, was not immune to my carbophobia.

    This all seemed to be quite justified, after all, resistance training generally doesn't deplete muscle glycogen more than ~40%14, 17, so we don't need the high doses of carbs, right?

    Further, even taking advantage of that post-workout window for glycogen doesn't mean that we're going to get more glycogen storage - only faster recovery. This is of course crucial for MMA athletes or anyone doing 2-a days, but resistance training athletes don't benefit from it. Or so I thought.

    Faster Recovery Is Crucial For MMA Athletes.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Faster Recovery Is Crucial For MMA Athletes.

    Given my above level of reasoning I was exceptionally skeptical when I first tried the carb supplement Vitargo S2. While it's been shown to increase rapidity of glycogen restoration compared to glucose and maltodextrin,11 and enhance performance in a second bout of daily exercise - just 2 hours after glycogen depleting endurance training16 - , these studies didn't exactly impress me.

    What Is Vitargo?
    [ Click here to learn more. ]
    What Is Vitargo?
    What's the big deal about post-workout recovery and this product? I wanted to learn as much as I could about this...
    Eyad H. Yehyawi

    They're great for endurance and high intensity athletes, but I was a strength athlete and the research just wasn't applicable to what I do. But as always, it's important for me to try things out before I objectively rip on them - and I was certainly going to do so on Vitargo S2.

    "Feels Like Creatine"

      So here I am skeptical as h#ll using a carb supplement after training. I wasn't expecting anything to happen, and why should I? After all, in spite of what our perception may be it's pretty rare for us to really feel when a supplement works (this is why 2-6 month studies are usually required to find any differences).

      The notable exceptions to this are:

      • Creatine, which gives an obvious muscle volumization effect
      • Stimulants, which get the heart rate and body temperature up (among other possibilities)
      • Various [other] substances.

      Other than that it's pretty much a crapshoot in which the directed placebo effect runs rampant. It's just human nature and it affects all of us.

    Placebo Effect In Bodybuilding?
    [ Click To Join The Thread. ]
    Placebo Effect In Bodybuilding?
    Does anyone have an opinion about how significant the placebo effect is in bodybuilding, particularly in regards to the use of supplements?
    Started By:

      Getting back to my Vitargo S2 experiment, I quickly began to notice something happening after my post-workout shake - my muscles felt fuller than normal. I initially passed this off as an unusual prolonged pump; maybe because my caffeine intake had been affecting my metabolite clearance or production. But when the effect actually increased in magnitude as time went on, I knew something positive was happening.

      For whatever reason (I was still skeptical of Vitargo S2 at this point), I had a ridiculous increase in muscle volume after training. In fact I hadn't felt anything like it since I began supplementing with creatine a decade ago.

      If you've ever carb loaded, you'll know what a great feeling it is, and if you haven't, you'll never forget your first creatine loading experience. I must admit that after more than a decade and a half of training and supplement use, I was actually a little giddy from this new experience. It's not every day that you encounter this level of change.

    If You've Ever Carb Loaded, You'll Know What A Great Feeling It Is.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    If You've Ever Carb Loaded, You'll
    Know What A Great Feeling It Is.

    G.I.: Knowing Is Half The Battle

      Another interesting property that's worth pointing out is that in spite of the quantity of carbs ingested and the rapidity of absorption, there was no perception of fullness or bloating during this experiment.

      I usually have an iron gut when it comes to most things, but even this attribute can't protect me from the bloating that people experience after dumping 70 grams of glucose or maltodextrin into the gut. This benefit alone has caused several people to switch to this novel carb source after training.

    Do You Feel Bloated After Eating Large Quantities Of Carbs?

    Depends On The Type Of Carbs.

    The True Test

      Although I was walking around with what seemed like 10lbs of new muscle, the true test was to come 2 days later. This was my leg day, and while that's not at all unusual by itself (at least we hope not!), I was sure that it was going to kill any perception of muscle fullness I had. For whatever reason, leg training completely flattens out my upper body, leaving me looking like I weigh 20lbs less than I actually do. I've never been able to "fix" this - it's just something I've gotten used to.

    Muscle Milk GENR8 Presents:
    Vitargo S2

    Vitargo®S2 is the super-soluble form of Vitargo®, a patented, molecular carbohydrate with ZERO SUGAR. Only Vitargo®'s low osmolality, molecular carbohydrate form moves through the stomach more than twice as fast as the carbohydrates (e.g. maltodextrin and sugars) found in other sport drinks and powders. That means faster carbohydrate digestion and absorption into the body.
    [ Click here to learn more. ]

      But the challenge came, and I'm happy to report that my upper body stayed full for the first time I can remember during leg training. It was quite unexpected, but at that point even my stringent skepticism began to wane. Something good was going on here. Real good.

    Enjoying The Ride

      I usually analyze the h#ll out of a supplement to figure out why it works before I begin to take it, but I only did so in a negative sense with Vitargo S2. I didn't expect it to do anything, let alone have an incredible cell volumization effect.


    By: jcstorey
    This has become a staple to my post workout stack. Been taking this for a short time, but it has really amped up my recover time. Normally a leg routine left me feeling it for 4-5 days. With this new routine calling for legs twice a week, I honestly beleive this stuff has been able to help get them in at full intensity, not half assing a workout. I take this with a scoop each of whey and casein protein.
    Ten Out Of Ten.
    View More GENR8 Vitargo S2 Reviews

      I mean I'd tried everything, including glucose, maltodextrin, blended oats, and even the highly touted Waxy Maize - which has been shown to be less effective than white bread for stimulating insulin and blood glucose (/end future article teaser) - but haven't had an effect like this before. Even though creatine enhances glycogen storage, 9 my use of this supplement hadn't changed at all and couldn't be the cause of the outcome.

      But following my initial (and persistent) experiences, I began investigating what was going on. After many days worth of research, I must confess that I still don't know exactly what's happening inside my muscle cells. Clearly there's an unusual glycogen supercompensation effect that occurs with Vitargo S2, even with resistance training.

      Moreover, this is related to the speed of absorption, and potentially the subsequent insulin spike, because it doesn't happen with other types of carbohydrates. This is particularly interesting considering that the liver is going to have priority for glycogen repletion, which makes the muscle supercompensation that much more intriguing. Beyond that, I'm at a loss.

    Starting Your Day Off Right: Breakfast!
    [ Click here to learn more. ]
    Your Anabolic Powerhouse!
    Insulin is one of the body's most anabolic muscle-building hormones. More specifically, it's a hormone released by the pancreas in response to nutrient availability.

      Although I'm not completely resigned on elucidating the mechanism of action, I have learned to sit back and enjoy the volumization ride.

    More Than A Feeling

      For most people involved in athletics or bodybuilding, the benefits of an appearance of additional 10-15 pounds of functional muscle seem obvious. But far from simply a cosmetic effect, enhanced glycogen storage may have even more benefits!

      For example, it is known that resistance exercise increases glycogen breakdown, the extent to which is determined by the intensity of the training.14 From this, it has been suggested that glycogen supercompensation following post-exercise carbohydrate may ultimately result in improved resistance training performance.7


    Your 12-Week Daily Video Trainer
    Week 9: Post-Workout Nutrition!

    You've always wanted to get in the best possible shape, but you've just been waiting for someone to help you make that first step and keep you moving down the right path. Kris Gethin is your own Daily Personal Trainer! Today we're discussing the importance of post-workout nutrition.

    Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
    Or Download Here:
    WMV (58 MB) - iPod Video (81 MB)
    [ Your 12-Week Daily Video Trainer ]

      The fact that glycogen depletion, and subsequent resynthesis, occur to the greatest extent in fast muscle fibers lends further intrigue to the performance enhancing potential. 14

      Interestingly, it has been shown that performing resistance exercise (squats) in a carbohydrate-depleted state is ergolytic (i.e. performance impairing).8 Although it's too soon to suggest the extrapolation that training in a post-Vitargo S2 glycogen-supercompensated state would be directly performance-enhancing, the potential for such an effect remains exciting.

    Muscle Milk GENR8 Presents:
    Vitargo S2

    Vitargo®S2 is the super-soluble form of Vitargo®, a patented, molecular carbohydrate with ZERO SUGAR. Only Vitargo®'s low osmolality, molecular carbohydrate form moves through the stomach more than twice as fast as the carbohydrates (e.g. maltodextrin and sugars) found in other sport drinks and powders. That means faster carbohydrate digestion and absorption into the body.
    [ Click here to learn more. ]

      Perhaps even more important than any ergogenic effect is the actual benefit of cell volumization itself. It's been suggested that actually enhancing muscle cell size is responsible for anticatabolic effects in this tissue. 6 Although it's usually associated with creatine use, it's worth noting that some of creatine's effect may be due to its often-ignored ability to increase glycogen storage. 9, 15, 18

      Consistent with this idea, creatine supplementation has been shown to have an anticatabolic effect,10 leaving one to wonder to what extent glycogen contributes to this significant benefit.

    Getting The Facts Straight On Creatine For Optimal Results!
    [ Click here to learn more. ]
    Getting The Facts Straight On Creatine For Optimal Results!
    Creatine is one of the most popular weight gain supplements that users find themselves on and has shown to be very helpful.
    Shannon Clark

    All Signals Go!

      Continuing with the similarities between creatine supplementation and glycogen loading, we need look no further than the effect of each on muscle cell signaling in resistance exercise. These are the "stop" and "go" signals that tell the muscle to build up, and break down. By altering our control of these signals we should be able to optimize our training effect.

    By Altering The Stop And Go Signals We Can Optimize Our Training Effect.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    By Altering The Stop And Go Signals We
    Can Optimize Our Training Effect.

      One study showed that trained athletes had greater anabolic signaling following resistance exercise when the muscle is in a carbohydrate loaded state. 2 In fact, the anabolic factors that were activated following exercise in the high carb condition are the same that are stimulated from leucine supplementation and resistance exercise, 4 as well as protein and carb laden post-workout drinks. 5

      Other research indicates that the level of glycogen in muscle can affect muscle regulatory factors in a resting state. Considering that we're usually resting, the significance of this finding could be important. In fact, it has been shown that signals for overall protein metabolism are increased in normal, compared to glycogen-depleted, muscle.1

      What's really interesting about all of this is that these anabolic factors are also elevated in muscle with creatine use3 and resistance training.13

    Unrelenting Muscle Is Here!
    [ Click here to learn more. ]
    Unrelenting Muscle Is Here!
    Being a bodybuilder places us in a very elite realm and although we pour every ounce of sweat and blood into our workouts, we inevitably hit a muscle-building wall.

      Now we know that carbohydrate availability greatly affects the related signals for adaptation following endurance exercise, 12 but this has yet to be directly investigated for glycogen supercompensated muscle.

      Considering what we know about muscle glycogen availability and creatine-induced cell swelling affecting the growth signals, it's a good bet that there's going to be a net positive effect on muscle hypertrophy. Only time will tell just how powerful this effect is, when combined with resistance training in fed, and hyper-fed, states.

    Summary And Conclusions

    In spite of my skepticism and poor experiences with other carbohydrates, I noticed an immediate and sustained volumization effect from post-workout Vitargo S2 ingestion. Although I can't quite figure out why it works as well as it does, the added muscle size is enough to keep me coming back for more. Moreover, the potential for this glycogen supercompensation to promote a performance-enhancing, and/or anabolic/anticatabolic effect, remains quite exciting!

    Raise Your Expectations. Raise The Barr!

    David Barr is widely recognized as an industry innovator, most recently for his work on developing The Anabolic Index. As a strength coach and scientist, he brings a unique perspective to the areas of diet, supplementation, and training. His research experience includes work for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, as well as studying the effect of protein on muscle growth at the world's most top muscle metabolism lab under Dr. Robert Wolfe. He holds certifications with the NSCA as well as USA Track and Field, and is the Official supplement consultant for Super Human Radio. He can be contacted through his website:


    1. Churchley EG, Coffey VG, Pedersen DJ, Shield A, Carey KA, Cameron-Smith D, Hawley JA. Influence of preexercise muscle glycogen content on transcriptional activity of metabolic and myogenic genes in well-trained humans. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Apr;102(4):1604-11.
    2. Creer A, Gallagher P, Slivka D, Jemiolo B, Fink W, Trappe S. Influence of muscle glycogen availability on ERK1/2 and Akt signaling after resistance exercise in human skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol. 2005 Sep;99(3):950-6.
    3. Deldicque L, Louis M, Thiesen D, Nielens H, Dehoux M, Thissen J-P, Rennie MJ, Francaux M. Increased IGF mRNA in human skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37:731-6
    4. Deldicque L, Theisen D, Francaux M. Regulation of mTOR by amino acids and resistance exercise in skeletal muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 May;94(1-2):1-10.
    5. Dreyer HC, Drummond MJ, Pennings B, Fujita S, Glynn EL, Chinkes DL, Dhanani S, Volpi E, Rasmussen BB. Leucine-enriched essential amino acid and carbohydrate ingestion following resistance exercise enhances mTOR signaling and protein synthesis in human muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Feb;294(2):E392-400.
    6. Fang CH, Li BG, James JH, Fischer JE, Hasselgren PO. The anabolic effects of IGF-1 in skeletal muscle after burn injury are not caused by increased cell volume. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1998 May-Jun;22(3):115-9.
    7. Haff GG, Lehmkuhl MJ, McCoy LB, Stone MH. Carbohydrate supplementation and resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Feb;17(1):187-96
    8. Leveritt, M. and Abernethy, P.J. Effects of carbohydrate restriction on strength performance. J Strength Cond Res. 1999 Feb 13(1), 52-57
    9. Nelson AG, Arnall DA, Kokkonen J, Day R, Evans J. Muscle glycogen supercompensation is enhanced by prior creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jul;33(7):1096-100.
    10. Parise G, Mihic S, MacLennan D, Yarasheski KE, Tarnopolsky MA. Effects of acute creatine monohydrate supplementation on leucine kinetics and mixed-muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol. 2001 Sep;91(3):1041-7.
    11. Piehl Aulin K, S?derlund K, Hultman E. Muscle glycogen resynthesis rate in humans after supplementation of drinks containing carbohydrates with low and high molecular masses. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Mar;81(4):346-51.
    12. Pilegaard H, Osada T, Andersen LT, Helge JW, Saltin B, Neufer PD. Substrate availability and transcriptional regulation of metabolic genes in human skeletal muscle during recovery from exercise. Metabolism. 2005 Aug;54(8):1048-55.
    13. Psilander N, Damsgaard R, Pilegaard H. Resistance exercise alters MRF and IGF-I mRNA content in human skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol. 2003 Sep;95(3):1038-44
    14. Robergs RA, Pearson DR, Costill DL, Fink WJ, Pascoe DD, Benedict MA, Lambert CP, Zachweija JJ.Muscle glycogenolysis during differing intensities of weight-resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1991 Apr;70(4):1700-6.
    15. Sewell DA, Robinson TM, Greenhaff PL. Creatine supplementation does not affect human skeletal muscle glycogen content in the absence of prior exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2008 Feb;104(2):508-12.
    16. Stephens FB, Roig M, Armstrong G, Greenhaff PL. Post-exercise ingestion of a unique, high molecular weight glucose polymer solution improves performance during a subsequent bout of cycling exercise. J Sports Sci. 2008 Jan 15;26(2):149-54.
    17. Tesch PA, Colliander EB, Kaiser P. Muscle metabolism during intense, heavy-resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1986;55(4):362-6.
    18. van Loon LJ, Murphy R, Oosterlaar AM, Cameron-Smith D, Hargreaves M, Wagenmakers AJ, Snow R. Creatine supplementation increases glycogen storage but not GLUT-4 expression in human skeletal muscle. Clin Sci (Lond). 2004 Jan;106(1):99-106.