Consume SUGAR After A Workout?
This is Brent Vlcek. I am also a writer on Bodybuilding.com, but not nearly to the extent that you are. Nonetheless, I finished reading your Carb article in which you speak of consuming a sugary carb source after one's workout. I was shocked to say the least. For the past couple of months I have been trying to find different training, nutrition and rest techniques to get a better appearance. After reading your article, I think I will incorporate it into my regime. But first, I have a couple questions.
Should I drink a Coke after a workout? After all, it has 39-42 grams of sugar in it. Or should I opt for something with less sugar, like Gatorade (with 14 grams)? How much sugar should I consume after a workout? And, finally, to get it off my chest, is this... right?!?!? Do professional bodybuilders do this? I'm sorry for the doubt, but it seems strange to me. Please help!
Receiving a FAQ request from another Bodybuilding.com writer honored me. He has a good question. Read on to understand the reasoning behind consuming high glycemic index carbohydrates after training.
Well, Brent some theories seem to believe that products like Coke have an advantage over lets say a pure glucose source that is not carbonated. I believe that there was some research that actually saw an advantage to having carbonation in a post workout drink and of course there are other studies that will say differently. In my opinion it would be wise to drop the carbonation. Carbonated beverages not only interfere with the cells ability to take up and beneficially utilize oxygen they also tend to bloat you. Bloating results in a gassy stomach, which in turn will result in belching. Belching is not only rude and gross it can have long-term negative effects on the esophageal or cardiac sphincter as well as the esophagus as a whole. Belching (over time) may allow some acidic content to flow up into the esophagus, which has a delicate mucosa and will be damaged by the acid. The acid comes from the stomach. If you use plenty of carbonated beverages the esophagus lining may become irritated causing oral consumption difficulties. A short description of these events would look as follows:
Athlete drinks Coke for years = acid in esophagus on several occasions = damaged esophagus = difficulty swallowing = medical treatment. This may sound extreme and it may be but it is one heck of a great reason not to use carbonated beverages to replenish your glycogen stores after training. So what should you use? Well there are a number of great choices out there. The fact is that a liquid will work the best. I have gotten my hands on a product called Insta-Glucose, which is a gel containing 24 grams of carbohydrates. It is used in diabetic patients for treating hypoglycemic reactions but the bodybuilder in me, who is always in search of using science to grow muscles will use it tomorrow morning as a post workout replenishment agent. I only have one because it was given to me, but I could not afford it because it runs about $3.00 per tube. Supplements are just as effective and are much cheaper.
The facts reveal that the more concentrated the source is the better. So things like power gels, Carboplex, Carbo Fuel, Gatorade, and PowerAde would be great replenishment carbohydrates. If you find that the Gatorade is too weak you can add sugar or even better a scoop of Carboplex to it. Carboplex contains pure maltodextrin, which is by far the best post workout carbohydrate. If you just flat out love Coke you can use it if you shake it lightly and barley crack open the top to let as the carbonation escape. You are basically "flattening" out your carbonated beverage. It is now a glucose drink.
Lets look at the reasoning behind the use of liquid carbohydrates following training. What you are trying to do is replenish your glycogen levels in the muscles that were just trained. By eating a high glycemic liquid carbohydrate you can achieve this because the muscles are ready to soak up carbohydrates after training. Additionally the high glycemic carbohydrates will cause a spike in insulin, which will take those carbohydrates and jam them into the exhausted muscle cells. Insulin can be our friend if used at the right times. This is one of those times. As far as the professional bodybuilders doing this type of practice... heck yeah they do. On top of this they supplement with insulin to assure the carbohydrates get packed into the muscle cells. Some bodybuilders (not pros) see this as a dangerous method of glycogen loading.
I personally confronted an endocrinologist on the matter and he said that by supplementing with insulin even if you were not a diabetic and did not need insulin that you would not do harm to the beta cells in the pancreas. These cells are where your body produces its source of insulin. He said that the body would not stop producing insulin if you were to supplement with it. It does not work like steroids do because they will stop the body's natural production. For example if you are taking testosterone your body stops producing it because it recognizes that there is ample amount in the body, insulin is different. I personally have never used insulin but the concept has intrigued me for about 5 years now. I do like spiking my own insulin levels and assisting it with glucose disposal agents like chromium picolinate, ALA, and vanadyl sulfate.
I do not go super high on my post workout carbohydrates because I am really sensitive to them and I do not have a naturally lean body. I use 80-100 grams of carbohydrates immediately following my training sessions. I like sweet things like honey, black strap molasses, and maple syrup to supplement a drink or a little high glycemic food item like corn or grits. I mostly stick to fluid but I eat sometimes because the window is open for up to 2 hours after training so if the carbs digest a fraction slower because I consumed food and not pure liquid it is not too significant of a change. To learn more about insulin and glucose disposal agents (GDA) read my article concerning gluconeogenesis and insulin/GDAs. I think that you will find it really interesting. Good luck with your training!