Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your brain, body, and overall athletic performance. But not all carbohydrates are created equal. Clean carbohydrates sources or complex carbohydrates provide the long-lasting sustained energy you need for prolonged workout periods, such as running, cycling, and high-intensity functional training. Not only that but, clean carbs help you build more muscle and optimize workout recovery. The question is, what carbohydrates are best for building mass, optimizing body composition and performance?
The Problem With Simple Carbs
Chances are you’ve had a snack or chugged a sugary carb drink before a workout or long run and find yourself gassed-out mid-way through your training. This is because simple carbohydrates and supplements such as maltodextrin, dextrose, and cyclic dextrin, spike your insulin levels, which can attribute to low blood sugar leaving you feeling tired, fatigued, and lethargic.
Let me paint a picture for you. Most people, athletes included will consume a sugary energy drink or carbohydrates an hour or two before their training session, to get that mid-day pick-me-up, when their energy hits a wall. This infuses a vicious cycle, that we call the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster.
After the sugary drink or simple carb is ingested, your body is flooded with an abundance of carbohydrates, surmounting in a short boost of energy, followed by a devastating crash and burn. Once this happens, your body dispels the hormone insulin, to regulate the amount of sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream. When insulin is released by the pancreas, it disperses the sugar out of your blood into the liver, muscle, and stores it as body fat. When the blood sugar is removed, it results in low-blood sugar translating to low energy levels.
This is the reason why you have mood swings, feel hungry all the time, or get fatigued and have low energy. Insulin levels and blood sugar all depend on the type of carbohydrates you consume. When you hear certain carbs being ‘high’ on the glycemic index, it means that they will spike blood sugar and insulin quicker than other types of carbohydrates.
What You Need Are Complex Carbs
Complex carbs digest much slower than simple carbohydrates, due to their longer-chain molecular structure. Complex carbs are also sugars, but they do not spike blood insulin, keeping your blood glucose levels stable, and provide a long-sustained energy release. These types of carbohydrates or clean carbs work best for prolonged training, improving endurance, building more muscle mass, and optimizing body composition. Complex carbs slow the absorption of sugar, slowing down digestion, which results in lower cholesterol levels and keeping you fuller for a longer period of time. No Blood Sugar Roller Coaster with complex carbs. So, what are the best clean carbs for building more muscle and performance?
RELATED ARTICLE What’s The Difference Between Simple Vs Complex Carbs
Sweet potatoes have naturally occurring sugars which are full of dietary fiber, and micronutrients. Sweet potatoes are stocked full of Vitamin B6, which can help in maintaining good brain health, improving mood and energy levels. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which can help in immune health, eye health, and maintain low blood sugar levels.
Nutritionally Yams are very similar to sweet potatoes. Both are low on the glycemic index, making them good choices, for long-lasting sustained energy without spiking blood sugar. Yams, however, have a higher vitamin C content than Sweet Potatoes, but not nearly the amount of Vitamin A.
Oats are an amazing source of complex carbohydrates and protein to help build more muscle and optimize body composition. Oats are classified as soluble fiber which can help suppress appetite, and slow down digestion. Several studies have shown that oats can also protect against heart disease, reduce chronic inflammation, improve gut flora, benefit inflammatory bowel disease and provide sustained energy [R, R, R, R]
Swolverine's Clean Carbs® is different than other carbohydrates supplements. Other carbohydrate products use Maltodextrin, Dextrose and simple carbohydrates that spike blood sugar, creating more body fat and giving you an energy crash [R]. Clean Carbs® is made with 100% natural whole-foods from pure complex carbohydrates. including sweet potatoes, yams, and oats, which provide long-lasting sustained energy to fuel your training and exercise performance. Research indicates, that your body rapidly burns through glycogen stores during high-intensity functional training, resistance training, and endurance workouts. Replacing glycogen stores after strenuous exercise and training is vital for optimal performance and faster recovery during prolonged, intense exercise [R].
Brown rice is another great clean carb for building mass and weight management. Whether you’re shredding down or looking to increase size brown rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates and will sustain a low insulin release for longer lasting energy. Although similar white rice, is stripped of most the nutrients found in rice and will result in a blood sugar spike as opposed to stable glucose levels.
Quinoa is one of the only plant sources that is considered a complete protein. With all essential amino acids, in addition to micronutrients such as manganese, magnesium, and iron, quinoa is a great clean carb source for athletes.
The Best Clean Carbs For Athletic Performance: Takeaway
Crushing a sugary energy drink or dextrin-based carbohydrate supplement before your workout, will spike insulin levels and result in an energy crash, fatigue, and increased body at. When you’re looking for the best carb sources to help improve your performance and meet your goals, including a variety of complex carbohydrates in your diet, such as sweet potatoes, yams, and quinoa. Skip the blood sugar rollercoaster and opt for a carbohydrate that will fuel your performance and provide long-lasting sustained energy without the crash.
Looking for the best clean carb source to build more muscle, shred body fat, and improve athletic performance?
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Valeur J, Puaschitz NG, Midtvedt T, Berstad A. Oatmeal porridge: impact on microflora-associated characteristics in healthy subjects. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(1):62-7.
Rebello CJ, Johnson WD, Martin CK, et al. Acute effect of oatmeal on subjective measures of appetite and satiety compared to a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal: a randomized crossover trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(4):272-9.
Chappell, A.J., Simper, T. & Barker, M.E. Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 4 (2018) doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0209-z