The body needs energy to function. The brain, organs and muscles cannot in fact perform their function without fuel. This energy is present mainly in the carbohydrates and lipids provided by the diet. During a sporting activity, energy expenditure can be up to 3 times higher than that spent at rest. Sports practitioners are indeed asking the question of when is the ideal time to take carbohydrates. This article will give more details on this information.


A balanced diet should include carbohydrates. The athlete must consume more, according to the type of activity, the duration and the intensity of the effort. Therefore, the best time to take carbohydrates from the diet is before, during and immediately after exercise.

On the day of the test or session, it is important to recharge the liver reserves emptied during the night. If the muscle reserves are complete, those of the liver are not because the organs, in particular the brain, consume almost all of its reserves during the night. The liver can store around 100 g of glycogen. It is therefore advisable to consume carbohydrates at the last meal by choosing them with a low glycemic index in order to avoid reactive hypoglycemia. It is necessary to plan the last meal at least 3 hours before the exit so that the digestion is finished at the time of the departure. This time can be shortened if the effort is moderate.

The key times to consume carbohydrates are:


  • Before training  

Before training, the consumption of carbohydrate (15-30 minutes before) will save glycogen stores while saving energy more easily usable, also helps reduce the response of cortisol to training and will enhance absorption of protein by muscles during training (if amino acids are already in the bloodstream). In the meantime, there is a possibility that pre-workout carbohydrate consumption will decrease the rate of fat burned during workout.

On the other hand, in the case of a sporting event of the competition type, the stress caused releases hormones which greatly increase the consumption of glycogen. Hepatitis reserves thus decrease between the last meal and the start of the test. To avoid this depletion, it is advisable to consume a few low glycemic index carbohydrates before departure. It is best to take a fructose drink. Fructose does not induce a blood sugar spike. In addition, it is necessary to avoid sugary drinks (fruit juice, Cola, etc.) and carbohydrate bars which rapidly increase blood sugar levels and cause reactive hypoglycemia which would penalize performance at the start.


  • During training  

In order to maintain the blood sugar level and save liver and muscle glycogen and thus prolong the duration of the effort. This is valid even for sports of short duration (30 to 60 minutes) and sports requiring short but intense efforts (tennis, football, volleyball, etc.) A person can consume all types of carbohydrates. The high glycemic index carbohydrates consumed during exercise do not induce an insulin spike. On the contrary, during an effort, the body destocks its reserves. Any sugar ingested, up to a certain limit, comes in addition to these reserves to be directly used by the muscles which thus preserve their stocks. However, it is preferable to favor easily digestible sugars (glucose gels, honey, fruit pastes, isotonic drinks, etc.) which have a rapid effect.

In the efforts of more than 3 hours, a solid diet is useful to provide more carbohydrates and to avoid monotony. However, this type of food can quickly be disgusting during intensive efforts, not to mention that it does not provide the body with water. In addition, digestion consumes energy and is slowed down by activity. Cereal bars, fruit pastes or other products also slow gastric bleeding. In running sports (marathon, jogging), they can even cause stomach pain due to repeated shocks.


  • Post workout 

The benefit of consuming carbohydrate after training helps replenish glycogen stores expended during the workout and may also help deliver protein to trained muscles to aid recovery. Knowing that it will not raise insulin levels before training, it will have no change in fat loss during the workout.

The reconstruction of glycogen is optimal immediately after exercise. It is therefore necessary to take advantage of the few hours which follow the activity to reconstitute the reserves, in particular in the case of a new event occurring the next day. The practitioner can consume any carbohydrate, whether simple or complex, of low or high GI. The insulin spikes caused will store them as glycogen and not as fat reserves. It should be noted that high GI sugars would be more effective for this reconstruction immediately after exercise and that recovery would be faster if we accompany these carbohydrates with a little protein. He must also drink to rehydrate and allow the rebuilding of the reserves (3 g of water are necessary to store 1 g of glucose).


It contains all the information to reach your goal (anatomy, exercises, methods of intensification of training, metabolism, ..) of mass gain and dryness!


For an athlete, if the main objective is to gain muscle mass, it is suggested to add the consumption of carbohydrates before training (with some proteins) and if it concerns fat loss, the consumption of carbohydrates ( and protein) after the workout. On the other hand, watch out for refined products. Promote whole grains to replenish reserves such as the rind of cereals (rice, cereals, etc.) which contains fibers that help reduce their glycemic index.


The hyperglycemic power of foods can vary depending on the way they are prepared and on their accompaniment. Fiber helps slow down the digestion of carbohydrates as well as their absorption in the intestine and thus reduces GI. Proteins and lipids slow down digestion, thus the absorption time in the intestine. Mechanical treatments (grinding, cooking) increase the value of the index.


Another idea to especially know, is also to consume carbohydrates during the evening. For some, this may be against their belief (that the person is not active overnight i.e. carbohydrates are not spent so easily turns into fat). At the same time, it is advisable that this is the most favorable time, because carbohydrates lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and release serotonin (the neurotransmitter of well-being).


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