Power up your postworkout meal and set muscle growth into motion with these fast acting carbhoydrate supplements and food

As a serious lifter, it's been a drumbeat pounded into your memory banks to the point it should be an automatic response "Lift, then eat protein." Protein is the building block of muscle. It's the essence of any suscessful bodybuilding nutrition plan. It's the only way anyone can get from puny to prodigious. Protein isn't the only key nutrientto take in after training, though. Carbohyrates are critical as well. For years, FLEX has recommended that bodybuilders consume both proteins and carbs ummediately after workouts. This potent one-two combo sates the stage for growth much more aggressively and accurately than protein taken alone.

The carbs you choose should be of the fast-digesting variety. This type of carbohydrate enters the bloodstream very quickly and spikes insulin levels, replenishes muscles, kick-starts muscle growth processes and blunts the release of cortisol (the catabolic hormone that increases muscle breakdown). Eating carbs and prteinright after training is probably the single best thing you can do to maximize results from your gym efforts. For this meal, you have several options to choose from in both supplements form and whole foods, including carb supplements that are taken along with protein powder, protein premixed with carbs and foods that can be eaten with protein shakes. Here are the best selections:




Standalone carb powders can be added to protein shakes. There are several types on the market, including pure dextrose (or glucose) powder, pure maltodextrin powder and Vitargo. Any of the following are solid postworkout options Dextrose (another name for dietary glucose) is the simplest sugar available. It's already in the exact form your body needs – it doesn't have to be broken down before your body can use it, meaning it's quickly absorbed and sent to your muscles.

Maltodextrin is basically a chain of glucose molecules derived from corn or potato starch. It's absorbed almost as fast as glucose because the body can easily break down the glucose chains into single glucose molecules. Vitargo is a patented complex carbohydrate derived from corn that gets digested 80% faster than dextrose and loads muscle glycogen 70% faster than any other carb.


If you don't want to do your own mixing, you have the option of ready-mixed liquid carbs. These drinks are easy to carry and many gyms sell them in refrigerated displays. Choose products that contain dextrose, maltodextrin or sucrose. A good postworkout carb drink should provide 40-100 grams (g) of carbs. Add protein powder directly to it or shake up the protein separately.


The thick consistency of carb gels allows for a concentrated form of ready-toeat carbs in small convenient packets. Although these products were originally designed for runners and other endurance athletes to literally take on the run, they can be an easy way for you to down some carbs at the gym. Either mix them in with your protein drink or wash them down with the drink. A packet usually provides 25-30 g of carbs; after a workout, you'll need two or three packets for the right amount of carbs.

4. GLUCOSE TABLETS These quarter-sized tablets provide 5 g of dextrose each. They were designed for diabetics, but they make a convenient way to carry postworkout carbs with you. Immediately after training, drink a protein shake and chew eight to 20 glucose tablets for fast-acting carbs.


Thanks to the knowledge afforded by sports nutrition research, many supplement companies are offering specialized workout powders and drinks that supply both protein and carbs. Look for products that provide about a 1:2 ratio of protein to carbs and have very little fat. This will help you hit the target of 40 g of protein and 80 g of carbs after training. The carbs in these products should be dextrose (sometimes labeled as glucose), maltodextrin or even sucrose. Try to avoid products with high-fructose corn syrup or plain fructose.




One of the fastest of the fast-digesting carb foods is white bread. A slice contains about 15 g of perfect postworkout carbs. Put three to six slices in a baggie in your gym bag, and you're good to go. Add jelly or honey to sweeten the deal (and get additional fast carbs). Wash it down with a protein shake for the perfect postworkout meal.


Plain rice cakes are a good portable form of fast carbs. Each one supplies a little over 7 g of carbs. Carry an entire package in your gym bag and have about 10 after your workout. As with white bread, feel free to add jelly or honey.


Russet or baking potatoes are another fastdigesting carb source that is excellent after workouts. One average-size potato supplies about 35 g of carbs. Bake two in aluminum foil and drop them into your gym bag after they've cooled a bit. Don't eat the skins, as you don't want the fiber to slow down the digestion of the fast carbs. An obvious problem with baked potatoes is palatability. They tend to be dry, so add a lot of water to your protein shake to wash them down.


It's not the best choice, since table sugar (sucrose) is half glucose and half fructose (a slower-digesting carb), but it will do in a bind or as a cheap option. One-quarter cup of sugar supplies 50 g of carbs, so add a quarter to half a cup to your protein shake. It'll supply you with the fast carbs you need after a workout and boost the flavor of any protein shake. FLEX