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Are there any benefits to eating carbs after a strength training workout?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 16, 2010 at 3:18 AM

I never seem to get a clear answer on this issue. Any ideas?

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 18, 2011
at 01:15 AM

.. whichever signal is stronger -- the fat-burning signal from norepinephrine or the fat-storing signal from insulin -- may dictate whether fat is stored. The fact there is a relative depletion of carbs in muscle cells comes into play as well. On the whole, if you had a healthy workout, don't fear that <150g carbs in the meal after the workout will be shunted into fat-producing pathways.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 18, 2011
at 01:12 AM

Taken from a review (http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/pancreas/insulin_phys.html): "Insulin facilitates entry of glucose into adipocytes, and within those cells, glucose can be used to synthesize glycerol. This glycerol, along with the fatty acids delivered from the liver, are used to synthesize triglyceride within the adipocyte. By these mechanisms, insulin is involved in further accumulation of triglyceride in fat cells" Insulin inhibits hormone sensitive lipase. Norepinephrine, produced en masse during a workout, promotes this fat burning enzyme...

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on February 18, 2011
at 11:34 AM

I believe Art de Vany said there was some benefit to eating a little fat PWO, but I may be wrong.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 17, 2011
at 11:41 PM

could you please explain how exactly "glucose from carbs get shuttled to fat cells"? i thought that only fats (=lipids) could be "shuttled" into fat cells

0adda19045a3641edac0008364b91110

(1146)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:50 PM

So did you have good results consuming fat post workout? Every where I read people say to avoid fat PWO.

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6 Answers

8
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:13 AM

Yes, eating carbs benefits you after intense strength exercise by replacing muscle glycogen and spiking insulin to switch the body back to an anabolic state.

However, bodybuilders usually don't take carbs alone after exercise. They take it with protein. So you're really only asking them about part of the picture, and not the full picture. That might be why it isn't clear.

Basic theory. 1) Strength exercises (intense challenging weights) causes microtears to the muscles and uses up glycogen. Long enough exercise pushes the body into a catabolic state where it eats your muscles for the protein.

2) Bodybuilders take carbs to replace glycogen and cause an insulin spike to switch the body back to an anabolic state (so it stops using muscles for protein)

3) Bodybuilders take protein to provide the base nutrients to rebuild the body (and keep it from going back to a catabolic state for protein).

Additionally, after a workout, there's a "window" where you get a synergistic effect out of taking carbs with protein (and low side effects from the excess carbs).

Ordinarily, when muscle cells are full of glycogen, glucose from carbs get shuttled to fat cells when you have an insulin spike. However, after strength exercises, the muscles are depleted of glycogen, and the insulin spike will pump the glucose into the muscle cells instead (to be converted to glycogen), and not the fat cells.

If you have an abundance of the amino acids from protein, that gets shuttled along as well, pumping the muscle cells even fuller of amino acids than without the carb/insulin spike. More nutrients = faster repair/recovery.

The window varies, but runs from right after exercise to up to 24/48 hours later (I've read different things depending on the study). Usual recommendation I see is to take the PWO drink within 30 min of ending the exercise, and then having a light meal (with lots of real protein) an hour after that, to provide ongoing sources of nutrients for multiple hours.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 17, 2011
at 11:41 PM

could you please explain how exactly "glucose from carbs get shuttled to fat cells"? i thought that only fats (=lipids) could be "shuttled" into fat cells

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 18, 2011
at 01:12 AM

Taken from a review (http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/pancreas/insulin_phys.html): "Insulin facilitates entry of glucose into adipocytes, and within those cells, glucose can be used to synthesize glycerol. This glycerol, along with the fatty acids delivered from the liver, are used to synthesize triglyceride within the adipocyte. By these mechanisms, insulin is involved in further accumulation of triglyceride in fat cells" Insulin inhibits hormone sensitive lipase. Norepinephrine, produced en masse during a workout, promotes this fat burning enzyme...

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 18, 2011
at 01:15 AM

.. whichever signal is stronger -- the fat-burning signal from norepinephrine or the fat-storing signal from insulin -- may dictate whether fat is stored. The fact there is a relative depletion of carbs in muscle cells comes into play as well. On the whole, if you had a healthy workout, don't fear that <150g carbs in the meal after the workout will be shunted into fat-producing pathways.

2
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on December 17, 2010
at 02:52 AM

N=1. I lost alot of weight training fasted, eating low carb paleo, not alot of muscle gain.

I tested tubers. I gained 20 lbs of muscle in a matter of months. Not by themselves, post workout meals were usually 1-2 hours later and high protein high fat and 1-2 large potatoes/sweet potatoes.

Insulin is a GROWTH Hormone. dont forget that.

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on February 18, 2011
at 11:34 AM

I believe Art de Vany said there was some benefit to eating a little fat PWO, but I may be wrong.

0adda19045a3641edac0008364b91110

(1146)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:50 PM

So did you have good results consuming fat post workout? Every where I read people say to avoid fat PWO.

2
33ab3c085652a0cfbd7ab15c049afd1f

on December 16, 2010
at 03:25 PM

I don't think there is one answer to this.

This podcast talks about the benefits of abstaining from carbs for hours after working out.

http://superhumanradio.com/super-human-radio-show/501-best-of-the-interview-that-started-it-all-dr-dipasquale-discusses-carbohydrates.html#comment-168

I think, though, it depends on your goals - performance or body composition?

It seems that the performance minded want to refill those glycogen stores and so they ten to do carb post workout. Traditionally, bodybuilders would do the carb + protein deal, but as the above podcast states, that's changing too. THere is some speculation that going low carb post workout increases lipolysis and growth hormone levels.

1
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:37 PM

When a specific action like this is so wrought with complexity and controversy, the best course is probably to try it and see.

0
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:46 PM

this is very intersting. i have accidentally lost about 13 pounds since going paleo and lifting 3x week. overall, im pleased because i needed to lose that slight extra bit and i didnt realize it. now i think i am very prepared to put on muscle from this point.

i've been essentially low carb/paleo but recently began eating tubers/white rice and upping my safe carbs by a significant amount, all while keeping my healthy fats and proteins up. i always do just the protein shake after a workout, but i think i might experiment with some added insulin spikes to force the growth. i know mark sisson posted an essay detailing how this is not necessary, but hey, i wanna try it anyway so i think i will.

0
D64a0ae059bb55a0881236bb60f81f7e

(204)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:26 AM

It has a muscle preserving action, more effective than a straight protein meal after a workout. Better to consume both.

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