Consuming carbohydrates after the gym can boost your training results.
But how many grams of post workout carbs do you need to maximize results?
Today, I’ll dig into the science on this topic and get you an answer.
If you enjoyed my recent article on how much protein we need after a workout – where I showed that consuming 20 grams of whey protein was actually just as good as consuming 40 grams – then today’s article will reveal a similarly nice surprise for you.
Post Workout Carbs – Why Post Workout At All?
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding carbs.
So let me start by saying they are crucial to your results, just like protein and fat.
And they’re even more useful immediately after a training session.
We eat carbohydrates after a workout because they spike our insulin levels, which creates an anabolic response – meaning our ability to build lean muscle is temporarily enhanced.
And during that all-important post workout recovery phase we want to hit our muscles with nutrition hard and fast.
That’s why we use whey protein – it digests faster than food – and that’s why the primary source of your carbs in the post workout window should be simple, fast-release options.
Studies show that carbohydrates alone after a workout won’t have an anabolic response.
This tells us that protein is key for building muscle in the post workout nutritional window, but adding carbohydrates with protein can increase results a little bit further.
How Many Grams Is Optimal?
Now that we’ve established that post workout carbs are indeed useful, let’s take a quick look at how many grams will maximize results.
Is more better?
Well, you will often hear people in gyms saying that you should consume “at least 100 grams with your post workout whey protein shake.”
Back when I started training, this is something I heard from the local big guys and I followed it to a “T.”
I can still remember chowing down on a big bowl of pasta after every session.
And in theory at least, this made sense – i.e. the bigger the carb intake the greater the anabolic response – and that’s why many bodybuilders were willing to deal with feeling full and bloated after a session.
But the truth is, the high carb approach was squashed by recent research.
A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Physiology compared the post workout effects of two groups of individuals:
- Group A – 30g whey protein and 90g glucose
- Group B – 30g whey protein and 30g glucose
Contrary to popular belief, the results showed that the higher serving of carbohydrates provided no greater anabolic response. (1)
Much like our post on protein, where we found that the body seemingly has it’s own muscle building “tipping point” which renders excessive amonts no more beneficial – this was found to be 20g with protein – it seems post workout carbs are utilized in much the same way.
At least, in terms of the anabolic response which is created, 30 grams was every bit as effective as 90 grams.
What Does This Mean?
Basically, this means you don’t need to eat a ton of carbohydrates after training.
You can grab 30 grams and still achieve the maximum benefits from the post workout recovery window.
Not only does this allow you to maximize muscle building results without feeling bloated after the gym, it also saves more of your daily carbohydrate intake for you to enjoy with your meals.
This is also particularly useful information for anybody following a low carb diet.
So there you have it!
And this is why, after a hard workout, my male and female clients consume around 20g whey protein and 30g carbohydrates.
Many of them choose Haribo Gummy Bears as their “go to” source of those post workout carbohydrates.
Hopefully, today’s article helped clear up a few things on post workout carbs for you.
Share it if you enjoyed it.
Be sure to jump on my free email list – bottom of article – for more training tips like this from me. If you need a new workout program to smash in the gym, you can access all of my full training programs here. They are also free.
1. Glynn, E. L., et al. “Muscle Protein Breakdown Has A Minor Role In The Protein Anabolic Response To Essential Amino Acid And Carbohydrate Intake Following Resistance Exercise”. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology Published 1 August 2010 Vol. 299 no. R533-R540 DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00077.2010