Intra-Workout Carbohydrates

Intra-workout carbohydrates have gained popularity in the fitness world. You will probably be familiar with the idea of ​​consuming fuel before and after a workout, but the notion of doing the same thing in the middle of the session may be new. However, depending on the intensity and duration of the training, it may be worth a try.

The idea behind this practice is to replenish muscle glycogen stores, the primary source of energy that our body consumes during exercise, which is depleted during physical exertion. Different types of training have varying impacts on muscle glycogen. If you are exercising for more than 90 minutes, training at extremely high volumes, endurance events or team sports such as football – carbohydrates are very relevant.

Lack of carbohydrates will lead to a lack of energy and, as a result, poor performance.

Why use intra-workout carbohydrates?

Endurance athletes depend largely on their energy reserves (muscle glycogen) to sustain performance, so there is an obvious reason to consume carbohydrates in the middle of exercise.

However, during a typical bodybuilder workout or a strength training session (ie less than 90 minutes), we don’t consume as much muscle glycogen as you might think. Whether you consume carbohydrates during training, immediately afterwards or up to 24 hours later, all the considerably voluminous research in this area has found only a small, if any, difference in recovery rates – protein remains the most important macronutrient for recovery. If you are not using supplements and are consuming a caloric surplus in your diet, it is unlikely that carbohydrates in the middle of training will have any observable physical benefit.

Endurance athletes have a more obvious need and a greater opportunity to benefit from this practice. If you have restricted the consumption of calories in your diet, it is possible that the glycogen reserves are already low, which results in less fuel available to the muscles. That is why many marathon runners use energy gels or pure carbohydrate packs, and why athletes often use sports drinks that contain simple carbohydrates as well as electrolytes.

If you prefer to train early in the morning and it is not possible to put something substantial in your mouth first, easily digestible intra-workout carbohydrates can provide a quick injection of energy, without making your stomach heavy as it could happen with a full meal .

What could be a good source?

Maltodextrin is an example of a fast-acting and easily digestible energy source.

It is created from various vegetable sources, such as corn, rice, or potatoes. Therefore, it is suitable for vegans and is often gluten free (but confirmed on the label). Made of starch molecules, it is as sweet as ordinary sugar, and can simply be mixed with water or any other beverage.


If your body is in need of a quick source of energy and you want it to continue to perform, science shows that intra-workout carbohydrates can be effective. Providing muscles with fuel when they run out of glycogen stores can prevent breakdown of muscle tissue to be used as an alternative energy source.

Take into account your diet and exercise routine – if it has been a while since the last meal, if you have restricted your caloric intake, or are straining your body intensely in a workout that lasts more than an hour – hydrates intra-training can give you an extra useful boost to help you achieve your goals.

Final Message

The benefits of intra-workout carbohydrates depend largely on the type of training you do. Take into account the duration and intensity of your workouts and decide from there if your body can benefit from this additional fuel source.

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