One of the functions of carbohydrates is providing the body with energy. When you eat food that contains carbs, they will be broken down into glucose. It is then that glucose will be absorbed into the bloodstream, utilized by cells and the body produces adenosine triphosphate, which is a fuel molecule. ATP is used by the body during a number of activities and can be produced from a few different sources, but carbs are preferred.
When you’re someone that is partaking in a lot of physical activity, your body will require more energy. Not all carbohydrates are the same, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re consuming complex carbohydrates for optimal results.
If you’re interested in upping your carb intake but don’t want to do so through food, there are carbohydrate supplements that you can consume instead. Unfortunately, a lot of carb supplements come from unhealthy sources that simply provide a quick burst of glucose without lasting results. In this article I want to talk about some of the best carb supplements available. But first, let’s take a look at some of the basics of carbohydrates.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are considered a macronutrient, which is one of the ways that our body will take in energy. Our nervous system requires carbohydrate intake in order to function properly and to power our muscles. Carbohydrates come in the form of starches, sugars and fiber. You can find them in things like fruits, veggies, grains, milk and more. While our body needs carbs to survive, consuming too many can lead to weight gain or trouble with losing weight.
What Types of Carbohydrates Should We Look For?
I’ve briefly touched on the different types of carbohydrates that exist, but are you wondering what types you should be looking for and consuming the most? Here’s a breakdown.
There are two main types of sugars that you can find in food. One is the natural sugar that occurs in fruit, milk, etc. and is called fructose. The other one is an added sweetener, also known as table sugar. Milk sugars are called lactose.
Carbohydrates in the form of starches often have a bad reputation because they are higher in calories, but our bodies can actually break down starch-based carbohydrates quickly compared to things like fat or protein. Starches often contain a lot of B vitamins and nutrients, making them a healthy option for carb intake. Since 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, starches are something you should pay close attention to.
Fiber is a little bit different from carbohydrates. It comes in soluble and insoluble forms, and insoluble fiber doesn’t have a dramatic impact on your blood sugar levels. It can actually positively impact the amount of fat that’s being stored in the body, which is something you might benefit from if you’re trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, fiber isn’t broken down by the body and used for energy. Insoluble fiber will pass through your digestive system and expelled through your waste material.
Benefits of Taking a Carbohydrate Supplement
Your average person looking to lose weight might think that adding carbs to their diet wouldn’t be productive, but this is actually something to consider using for the following reasons.
Could Produce More Energy
We’ve talked about the need for consuming carbohydrates in order for the body to produce energy. If you’re looking to increase your energy reserves and experience consistent energy throughout the day, a carbohydrate supplement can help. What you want is a high-quality carbohydrate supplement that will break down slowly, so you get a steady flow of energy that doesn’t result in a big crash later on. When you have more energy, you will perform better.
Could Help Improve Brain Function
It’s no surprise that our brain is busy performing a lot of functions throughout the course of the day. This includes breathing, regulating body temperature, and secreting hormones just to name a few. In order to think clearly and perform these functions, our body needs energy. The brain can get its energy from two different sources, glucose or ketones. Both of them have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. If you’re eating a normal amount of carbs each day, your brain is probably getting its energy from glucose. Low-carb lifestyles result in the brain getting its energy from ketones. While your body will find a way to power your brain whether you’re eating enough carbs or not, taking a carbohydrate supplement has the potential to boost your brain function if your diet is lacking in important nutrients.
May Help You Feel Full Longer
Many of the carbohydrate supplements that are out there are made with complex carbohydrates. Because of this, your body will take longer to digest them. This can lead to you feeling full for longer periods of time.
Could Prevent Weight Gain and Help You Lose Weight
Carbohydrate supplements are ideal if you’re trying to lose weight, curb your appetite or combat cravings. When you feel full for longer periods of time, you’re less likely to over-consume calories. Carbohydrates also provide you with increased energy, which can positively impact your ability to exercise and burn calories and fat.
The 10 Best Carb Supplements
Now it’s time to take a look at the ten best carbohydrate supplements that are on the market right now.
#1. 1st Phorm Ignition
1st Phorm’s Ignition replenishes your stores of glycogen, improves muscle stamina and boosts muscle growth. Fitness supplements are important because they address your body’s needs during physical performance.
We’ve talked a lot about the use of protein pre- and post-workout, but carbohydrate consumption is something a lot of people overlook. Protein alone will result in a slow digestive process with a conversion into glucose. This doesn’t help with the building of muscle very much. A carbohydrate like that in Ignition, will be quickly consumed to increase your insulin levels, replenish your stores of glycogen and make the most of the protein you’ve consumed.
Ignition provides you with dexanhydrous glucose that will result in a high insulin spike. It also bypasses liver storage so that your muscles get hit as quickly as possible. There are other sugars that will be distributed throughout your body slowly as well.
- Ignites the anabolic growth process
- Shortens recovery time
- Results can be achieved in just days
- Mixes well and has a pleasant flavor
- Restores glycogen levels
- May contain trace amounts of Milk, Egg, Soy & Wheat.
#2. Transparent Labs Carb Powder
Transparent Labs Carb Powder is beneficial because it helps with consistent energy without causing jitters or blood sugar crashes. Each serving contains twenty-five grams of Cluster Dextrin, which is a slow-release carbohydrate. It’s perfect for athletes and active individuals that are looking for something that’s easy to digest and can provide long lasting energy. Works for before, during and after your workout.
- Contains twenty-five grams of Cluster Dextrin in each scoop
- Functions as a pre, intra and post-workout supplement
- Contains highly branched, high-molecular-weight carbs
- Available in unflavored varieties
- Reviews claim the taste is alright, but you may want to mix it in with something else to make it more palatable
#3. Jacked Factory Carb Surge
Carb Surge from Jacked Factory is a very advanced product that is designed for athletes and exercise enthusiasts. Every serving of product contains more than twenty grams of clean carbohydrates sourced from Carb10 Pea Starch and Cluster Dextrin. No sugar is included in its composition.
The goal of this product is to produce an anabolic environment in the body by replacing lacking glycogen and facilitating the synthesis of protein. It can also boost your ATP production. Easy of the stomach, you can mix Carb Surge with smoothies, juice, etc. Carb 10 and Cluster Dextrin have specifically been used thanks to their ability to provide you with a combined slow and fast-acting carb release. As a whole, the product is very easy to digest and doesn’t have a negative impact on your insulin production / secretion.
- Comes in an unflavored option
- Doesn’t spike your insulin levels
- Easy of the stomach
- A good mix of slow and fast-acting carbohydrates
- Functions as a pre, intra and post-workout supplement
- Contains an artificial sweetener (sucralose)
#4. Gorilla Mode Post-Workout Glycogen
Gorilla Mode Post-Workout Glycogen is the perfect supplement after your workout is done if you feel that you need to replace all of the things that were lost. For the most part, your body loses water, sodium and glycogen after a workout. It’s ideal to replace these things as quickly as you can while paying attention to the fat and protein content of what you consume. This product contains a mixture of fast digesting carbohydrates as well as sodium, creatine and leucine.
Carbohydrates inside Gorilla Mode Post-Workout Glycogen is a highly branched cyclic dextrin that is easily tolerated. It also works very well and is well tolerated by the stomach. The process takes place very quickly so your muscles can start recovering as soon as possible. Gorilla Mode has used a 2:1 ratio of dextrose to fructose in order to maximize their use. Sodium has been added to optimize performance and hydrate the body. Creatine will improve your strength while increasing muscle size and increasing power output.
- Replenishes glycogen reserves
- Supports the synthesis of muscle protein
- Enhances the recovery process
- Only twenty servings are included in one container of product
#5. Bulk Supplements Maltodextrin
If a fitness supplement isn’t something you’re interested in, but you would like to choose one ingredient that your body can benefit from as part of your fitness routine, you can purchase maltodextrin from Bulk Supplements. This is an easy-to-digest starch that is also a food additive. It’s usually found naturally in vegetables, and it is absorbed by the body quickly. A lot of professional bodybuilders supplement with maltodextrin thanks to its high carbohydrate content.
- Made from a non-GMO starch source
- Supplies energy and endurance for your workouts
- Aids in digestion
- Healthy source of carbohydrates
- An unflavored substance that you’ll want to add into some sort of smoothie or drink
#6. NutraBio Super Carb
Super Carb is a source of complex carbohydrates that come from long-chain polymeric fraction maltodextrin. It offers fast and consistent energy thanks to a slow metabolic rate. You can use this product as a pre-workout for energy, but it’s also optimal post-workout for faster recovery. Super Carb comes with a high percentage of long and branched chain carbs so that you get fast energy right when you need it most. There isn’t any additional fat, fiber or protein so you don’t experience any drops in energy or focus. It’s also a great way to replenish fluids and energy.
- Offers rapid glucose polymerization
- Increases energy levels
- Improves your exercise recovery period
- Calorie dense if you’re looking to increase your mass or strength
- Soluble in cold water and mixes easily in most liquids
- Easy to digest
- Can be a little over priced compared to others on this list
#7. Post-JYM Fast Digesting Carb
Post-JYM Fast Digesting Carb is a pure dextrose supplement that functions as glucose in the body. When you work out and your training depletes the carbohydrates that you have present in your body, you may also experience low levels of glycogen. Without these components you won’t be able to recover properly, leading to setbacks with your routine. This product also aids with muscle growth and strength.
Each serving of Post-JYM Fast Digesting Carb provides thirty grams of carbs. It mixes well with other products from this brand and mixes easily in liquid. When you consume these fast carbohydrates after your workout, you’re able to store more glycogen. You may also experience enhanced nutrient absorption with the consumption of this product. An insulin spike post-workout can result in a better uptake of creatine, beta-alanine and carnitine.
- Replenishes your muscle glycogen levels
- Enhances the uptake of creatine and carnitine
- Enhanced nutrient transport
- Contains artificial sweetener (sucralose)
#8. Now Sports Nutrition Waxy Maize Powder
Now Sports Nutrition Waxy Maize Powder comes from non-GMO corn as a complex starch. It contains ninety-percent amylopectin, which is a multi-branched polysaccharide. It has a very complex structure and is easily used by muscle tissue by being converted into glycogen. Glycogen is also stored in the body and used during your workout. When you’re done working out, this product can help sustain energy levels throughout the rest of the day.
- Enhances endurance
- Increases energy production
- Aids in workout recovery
- Contains complex carbohydrates for delayed release
- There doesn’t seem to be a lot of research done on the use of waxy maize
#9. Redcon1 Cluster Bomb HBCD Supplement
This product contains twenty-five grams of a highly branched cyclic dextrin. It’s very concentrated and can be easily absorbed by the body in a short amount of time. This product is for intra-workout use to provide you with more energy throughout your training session.
- You can subscribe and save thirty percent
- Science backed formula
- Rapid and fast acting
- Taken as an intra-workout for the most part
- Contains sucralose
#10. Nutricost Maltodextrin Bulk Carb Powder
Nutricost offers this Maltodextrin Bulk Carb Powder which contains fifteen grams of maltodextrin per serving. Made in a GMP Compliant, FDA Registered Facility. Nutricost delivers you a safe and pure source of carbohydrates without all kind of other ingredients added into the mix. It’s safe and easy to use. Simply mix it into your smoothie or beverage for fast consumption.
- Comes in two, four or eight pounds
- All natural with no artificial ingredients
- Gluten free
- Easily digested
- Doesn’t contain any other beneficial ingredients, so you’ll have to think about including other items in your regimen
Buying Guide for Carbohydrate Supplements
What to Look For
If you’re still on the fence about what kind of carbohydrate supplement to purchase, I have some tips on what to look for when you’re doing your shopping.
Quality of Ingredients
We’ve covered quite a bit of information regarding the different forms of carbohydrates that you can consume and where they come from. Always choose a product that contains a healthy form of carbohydrates that your body will easily tolerate and benefit from. I find that a combination of fast acting carbs and slow-release ones do the best job.
Brands that are transparent provide you with the opportunity to really select a product based on safety, purity and potency. If you’re having trouble figuring out the details of a product, move on to something else. Lack of transparency usually means that a brand is hiding unhealthy or unsafe ingredients that you’re better off without.
Third Party Tested
Using a third-party testing provider determines if you’re getting what is advertised, but it also ensures that you’re not consuming any banned substances. Look for the third-party testing label on a product or on a company’s website.
Excellent Customer Service
If you need to ask a question about a carbohydrate supplement, a customer service department should always be able to get you the information that you need in a short amount of time. A company that can’t be reached within business hours probably doesn’t deserve your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Looking for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding carb supplements? Here’s what I have to offer you.
What are the main functions of carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates have a few different functions, including providing fast energy to the body. Carbs are also stored within the body to provide energy for later on. Carbs can also be converted into other substances that our bodies need to thrive.
Is it good to take a carb supplement?
A carbohydrate supplement isn’t necessary for everyone. For instance, eating a well-balanced diet and only partaking in minimal physical activity might not warrant the need for additional carbs. However, athletes and fitness buffs may need additional carbs to help them get through a workout or to aid in muscle growth and recovery.
Is carb powder healthy?
Carb powder is healthy as long as you’re choosing a high-quality supplement that doesn’t contain artificial or unnecessary ingredients. Make sure you know where the carbs are sourced from as well.
Which type of supplement provides simple carbs for energy?
The products that offer simple carbohydrates for energy include dextrose, maltodextrin, waxy maize, and cyclic dextrin. They rank quite high on the glycemic index.
Does carb powder help gain weight?
Carb powder can help you increase mass if you’re looking to focus on converting that mass to muscle later on in your training process.
Will carb supplements make me fat?
Carb supplements will not make you fat if you’re using them as directed. Only use them before, during or after your workout based on what you’re looking to achieve (energy, recovery, etc.).
There are a lot of different nutrients that our bodies need in order to feel energized, focused and healthy. When we work out, we’re putting our body under quite a bit of stress. It’s stress that’s actually good for us, but we need to consider this process and what we’re putting into our body before, during and after we exercise. Hopefully this information will allow you to utilize carbohydrates a bit more efficiently in your own life, whether you’re looking to increase mass for muscle development or you’re in need of energy.
Tips for Success from the Nutritionist
Looking to increase carb intake from food alone? Here are some of the top healthy sources.
Sweet potatoes are very healthy as they contain a vast profile of nutrients. They’re also very high in carbohydrates, but not the kind that’s going to slow you down.
If you’re going to consume bread or other grains, always choose the whole grain variety. They are far less processed and much better for the body.
Oatmeal contains slow-acting carbs and are very healthy for you. They’re a great breakfast item but can also suffice as a quick afternoon or evening snack if you’re hungry but don’t want to consume too many calories.