Supplying your body with the right type of pre-workout fuel means the difference between the best workout of your life, or you crawling away in defeat.
Carbohydrates are the most used, studied, and readily available form of pre-workout fuel available for the human body.
Therefore, choosing the right type of pre-workout carbohydrate supplement will give your body everything it needs to perform at its best.
This article will run through the pros of complex and simple carbs, the best types to use, and the best pre-workout carbohydrate supplement available in 2020.
Benefits of Taking A Carb Supplement Pre-Workout
When you use a carbohydrate supplement, your muscles will receive a fast energy supply which increases performance – both endurance and muscular strength.
Furthermore, when you take a carbohydrate supplement pre-workout, you’ll assist the body in the delivery of amino acids into the muscles, which increases muscle protein synthesis, preventing muscle breakdown.
Lastly, consuming a quality carbohydrate supplement pre-workout will also protect your immune system. This is due to the stress response of exercise.
To explain; when foods (carbs) aren’t present, and when too much stress is put on the body, it can affect the digestive system, which is the home of immune health in the body.
Endurance and Stamina
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source. Therefore, when consuming a carb supplement pre-workout, you’re giving your body a fighting chance to perform at its best.
Getzin and colleagues highlighted how runners and triathletes who finished competitions with higher blood glucose levels tended to perform better than those with low blood glucose levels post-exercise. (I)
This highlights how important carbohydrates are before and during exercise. By consuming carbs around exercise (especially before) you’re allowing your body to perform at its peak.
To explain this further let’s look at how muscle glycogen metabolism works:
Muscle glycogen is broken down during adrenaline stimulation and released as lactate. Lactate is the burning sensation you feel in your muscles during exercise.
In an oversimplified explanation, it’s during the release of these hormones and lactate acids the body converts either stored glycogen or blood glucose into usable energy. (II)
Strength and Size
If you’re not an endurance athlete but instead you hit the iron – either as a bodybuilder or strength athlete/powerlifter, then carbs should be your go-to macronutrient.
When lifting at full force your body requires immediate energy. This type of heavy, explosive lifting requires stored muscle and liver glycogen (or blood glucose) to contract muscles to their fullest capabilities.
One way in which your body does this is with the creation of adenosine triphosphate – ATP. It’s ATP that will provide immediate explosive energy, and carbs are hugely responsible for making the process of ATP production more efficient.
Furthermore, if you are aiming to grow your muscles with hypertrophy training, then carbohydrates are your secret weapon.
This is because carbohydrates will shuttle amino acids, such as leucine, into your muscles during exercise. The more efficiently your body can send nutrients into your muscles, the more muscle you’ll be able to grow. (III)
Lastly, by having enough carbs in your system before and during training, you’ll also limit muscle protein breakdown during and post-training.
Simple vs Complex Carbs for Pre-Workout
Simple carbohydrates supply the body with quick energy in the form of blood glucose. This form of energy is useful pre-workout when you’re short on time, due to the rapid absorption rates.
On the other hand, we have complex carbohydrates, which are best consumed several hours before a workout.
This allows time enough for the body to digest and convert glucose into glycogen, which is how the body stores carbohydrates in the muscles and liver.
Each type of carbohydrate (simple and complex) play an important role in fuelling pre-workout performance:
Simple carbohydrates are classified on the glycemic index of having high, or relatively high insulin response: a GI index of 70 or above.
This means that when consuming a fruit, or simple carb source such as white rice, they digest quickly and absorb quickly. From there, glucose enters your bloodstream and assists in the delivery of nutrients (and energy) to your working muscles.
If, on the other hand, you consume simple carbs and your body doesn’t need this instant energy, they will likely be stored as body fat.
One bonus to simple carbs (apart from instant energy), is they help to pull nutrients from your digestive system into your bloodstream. This is useful when looking to feed your muscles with minerals, vitamins and amino acids.
Complex carbohydrates are those on the glycemic index scale of 55 or less. These types of carbohydrates keep insulin secretion low and steady.
Low glycemic carbohydrates help to normalise blood sugar levels, whilst supplying the muscles with a steady release of energy. Some examples are whole wheat pasta, bread, brown rice and green bananas to name a few.
The reason why you’d choose complex carbs over simple carbs is because they increase energy supply for much longer, allowing you to perform at your peak far greater than what simple carbs can offer alone.
Complex vs Simple?
It’s not a case of which is better than the other, it’s more of a combination of the two as they both have their benefits.
When combined, they have a more positive impact on energy supply, compared to being consumed individually. In short, combining the two gives you the best of both worlds.
This is due to the way complex carbs slow down the release of fast-acting carbs, whilst allowing for glucose to be used immediately but at a timed release, thanks to the presence of complex carbohydrates.
- Help to pull nutrients through the digestive system into the muscles
- Supply a quick burst in energy
- Increases nutrient, blood and oxygen delivery
- Supplies a steady release of glucose into the working muscles
- Slows down the release of fast-acting carbs (best of both worlds)
- Provides quality carbohydrate storage, which the body prefers long-term (in the form of muscle glycogen)
Best Carb Supplement for Pre-Workout 2020
After looking at the science, and from my own trial and error, I can honestly say that Performance Lab Carb is the best carbohydrate supplement to use pre-workout or otherwise in 2020.
This is due to the way it acts as a complex and a fast-acting carb source at the same time.
Its intelligent formula will give your body energy for 2+ hours without the crash!
Performance Lab Carb is made using Karbolyn®, which is a highly sophisticated carbohydrate formula made using potato, rice and corn starch.
This key ingredient, and the supporting elements inside Performance Lab Carb help to pull nutrients through your digestive tract, increasing the supply of essential nutrients into your working muscles.
Furthermore, you won’t experience a spike or crash with this supplement as it’s a relatively complex carb. Yet it’s able to provide you with rapid release energy when you need it for 2+ hours.
Performance Lab Carb Benefits:
Works faster than sugar, yet supplies a steady rate of glucose into the working muscles for 2 + hours.
Provides fast energy for intense bursts of activity, without the crash.
Increases energy production using essential minerals.
Contains organic compounds, and scientifically proven ingredients designed for enhancing performance.
If you want to step things up a notch, then you might want to take a look at Performance Lab Pre. This is by far the most intelligent and sophisticated Pre Workout formula that’s been created.
For instance, the ingredients are grown in a laboratory to mimic exactly what nature provides. This makes the supplement easy to absorb, fast-acting, and it offers incomparable benefits compared to other supplements.
Therefore, if you combine the intelligent carb source of Performance Lab Carb with their Pre Workout formula, your performance will skyrocket! Believe me, it’s the best combination in pre-workout supplementation.
With the rapid development in sports nutrition, the variety and choice of supplements have increased. This, as I’m sure you can agree, has created a lot of confusion.
In other words, there are simple sugars such as dextrose, and more complex sources such as maltodextrin. Then we have a carb and protein combinations, and even fat loss supplements. The list goes on…
However, there’s been some interesting development within supplement manufacturing in recent times.
Performance Lab Carb, for example, is a ‘state of the art’ carbohydrate formula made using potato, rice and corn starch. Along with minerals and organic flavourings which enhance energy production and recovery.
Supplements like Performance Lab Carb work faster than sugar, yet it won’t drop your insulin levels in the same way – among other benefits which you can see in the full review here.
To summarise; if you combine Performance Lab Carb Supplement with Performance Lab Pre Workout Supplement, your body will have all of the necessary amino acids, minerals and macronutrients it needs to perform at its peak.
(I) Getzin, Andrew R, et al. “Fueling the Triathlete: Evidence-Based Practical Advice for Athletes of All Levels.” Current Sports Medicine Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017. (source)
(II) Jensen, Jørgen, et al. “The Role of Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Breakdown for Regulation of Insulin Sensitivity by Exercise.” Frontiers in Physiology, Frontiers Research Foundation, 30 Dec. 2011. (source)
(III) Børsheim E; Cree MG; Tipton KD; Elliott TA; Aarsland A; Wolfe RR; “Effect of Carbohydrate Intake on Net Muscle Protein Synthesis During Recovery From Resistance Exercise.” Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), U.S. National Library of Medicine. (source)