Post-Workout Nutrition Catch-22

July 25, 2008

Another nutrition post today!!!

Everyone who takes a post-workout shake or knows they should understands that the reason is to replace nutrients that were lost during exercise as quickly as possible. Specifically, the idea of taking a fast-digesting carbohydrate (think simple sugars) post-workout when insulin is spiked to start replenishing muscle glycogen stores.

These simple sugars are usually either dextrose or maltodextrin. Here’s where the catch 22 comes in: These sugars are taken into the body with the intention of replenishing muscle glycogen, and since these are classified as fast-digesting (or high Glycemic Index) carbs, they should be absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream and then into the muscles than if taking a slower-digesting carb. What if this doesn’t occur as well as initially thought??

What appears to happen because of the chemical properties of these forms of glucose is that absorption into the bloodstream is slowed down. The osmolality of the solute (dextrose or malto.) is similar to that of the blood (when the osmolality of the solute matches that of the solvent, an isotonic environment results and no fluid displacement occurs). So a near isotonic solution is achieved between the dextrose/malto. and the blood. What ends up happening then is the carb “trickles” into the bloodstream from the stomach, which obviously will limit how quickly the nutrient arrives at the muscle to replenish the glycogen.

Side note: All the dextrose/malto. pooling in the stomach is what is happening when you get that bloated feeling after downing a shake.

After knowing this, we must wonder is there a better way?? Is there actually a true fast digesting, fast metabolizing carb for our post-workout shakes??


Here we have a fast digesting carb that passes through the stomach very quickly! (All due to its uniquely low osmolality) So when it gets to the stomach it does not pool there and trickle into the bloodstream; it gushes into the bloodstream! This allows it and any other nutrients in the post-workout shake to be delivered to the muscles very quickly.

Waxy Maize: 1                                                                                                                                                     Dextrose: 0

But what about dextrose, does this mean its worthless to include in post-workout shakes??

I would argue, no. First, dextrose is far more easily available than Waxy Maize so if you can’t find waxy maize at a supplement store near you or you don’t want to pay shipping from an online supplement dealer, dextrose is better than nothing. Also what I want to know is even though dextrose doesn’t “gush” into the bloodstream when its digested, does it still enter the blood quickly enough to take advantage of the post-workout insulin spike?? If it does, are we really missing any benefit when taking it??

What else I’m wondering about is what about that bloated feeling when comsuming dextrose/malto. or a protein/carb shake: would taking waxy maize eliminate this significantly due to the quick passing into the bloodstream?? If so, could this be the more attractive benefit?? (especially to the vast majority of those that take post-workout and protein shakes)

This is simply a summary and commentary on what I’ve read and reviewed lately about post-workout nutrition. As such, it piqued is a topic that piqued my interest and is something I want to try out to experience if there is a noticeable difference and true benefit to waxy maize. After my informal personal experiment, I will be sure to post a follow-up of what I found.



3 Responses to “Post-Workout Nutrition Catch-22”

  1. Patrick Says:

    Hi Chris,
    I am pretty certain that most of the sugar is absorbed in the intestines after gastric emptying has occurred. Given that malto and dextrose require very little digestion before they can be absorbed, the stomach contents spill into the intestines very quickly. This reduces the significance of the sugar trickling into the blood stream from the stomach vs. the rapid transfer we’d expect to see with Waxy Maize.

    When one adds whey protein powder to a shake containing Waxy Maize, the osmolality of the solution increases thus negating this benefit of this type of sugar solution. In the end, the intestines are still responsible for the bulk of the nutrient absorption.

    Waxy Maize is a great product, one that I use when I need to consume carbs DURING intense exercise because it doesn’t seem to cause the blood pooling of dextrose use. But as a post workout shake goes, dextrose is cheaper and I haven’t found there to be any benefit to consuming Waxy when I don’t have to continue to workout.


  2. Chris Brown Says:

    I’m glad you posted that seeing how you have taken WM so you can speak of its benefits and drawbacks in terms of personal experience.

    Also, you’re right in your second paragraph, I remember that too now…I must have forgotten to type it in.

  3. coach Says:

    Chris ,I’ve been using WM for a few years for pre-workout and postworkout with good results. But I’m a little suspicious about the facts or theories about what you can add to it or what you can’t. For instance; Vitargo, the so called inventers of the product say dont ever add any other sugar with it .But if you look on their website and read the ingredients of their energy bar, you can see they add all kinds of sugars with it plus alot of other stuff. I emailed them to ask them about that and they never replied .They also don’t use WM anymore ,they switched to barley for the past year or two. I’ve used a few different brands and right now I’m using IDS Waximaize. I use it by it self alot of times and I have to admit ,I really feel the energy from it alone but when I mix a full two scoops of whey protein with it ,I feel like superman. Does’nt your body’s own instinct tell you if something working for you or not. Why is WM or Barley starch the only foods or carb you have to watch what you mix with? Coach

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