Muscle glycogen is our main source of energy during exercise. The harder you train, the faster you deplete your glycogen stores. Once a certain amount of muscle glycogen has been used up, your body stops trying to obtain energy from glycogen in order to try and conserve your remaining glycogen stores. This will lead to a decrease in performance and focus in the gym.
By consuming carbohydrates during your workout routine, you are supplying your muscles with a constant supply of glycogen. This will prevent your body from conserving energy and will help you maintain a higher level of performance and focus while training.
Benefits of Intra-Workout Carbs
As you start nearing the end of your grueling workout routine, you will find that it gets harder for your body to properly recover between sets. This will often lead to you doing less reps or less weight than what you are capable of doing and the end results will be less muscle gains.
Consuming carbohydrates will provide a readily available source of energy which will help you recover faster between sets and will allow you to maintain your intensity throughout the entire workout.
Keep Cortisol Levels Low
Cortisol is an anti-stress hormone that is released in response to physical and mental stress. Higher levels of cortisol can put your body into a catabolic state (muscle loss).
Consuming carbohydrates during your workout can help keep cortisol levels down. This will help prevent muscle damage, and allow you to recover faster.
Just like your muscles, your brain also uses carbohydrates as an energy source. To avoid injury, it is important to be mentally focused while exercising, especially when doing heavy compound movements such as squats or deadlifts.
Intra-workout carbohydrates will provide your brain with the fuel it needs to keep you focused during your workout session.
Consuming Intra-Workout Carbs
For quick and easy digestion, it is best to consume carbohydrates in liquid form during a workout. Simply mix some glucose (dextrose) with water and slowly sip on it throughout your workout. This will provide your muscles with constant supply of energy and will help you recover faster, train harder, and stay focused.
How Many Carbs to Consume
The amount of carbs you consume will be determined by the duration of your workout. Most workouts will generally last around 45 to 60 minutes. Around 30 grams of carbohydrates mixed with 500mls of water should be enough to provide you with enough energy for a workout of this duration.
This is a basic guideline. There are many factors that will determine how many carbs you should be consuming during your workout, such as your size, how hard you train, your current diet, and your goals.
You can also increase the effectiveness of your intra-workout drink by adding extra ingredients such as BCCAs, creatine, whey protein, and a nitric oxide booster such as L-citrulline or L-arginine.