Carbs are energy. Period.

But what does the science say about the importance of pre-workout carbohydrates for building muscle? Do you really need them?

Let’s look at my personal experience and then throw around the science.

If I am doing a fasted weight training session — usually early in the morning at the crack of dawn — I will take a scoop of my Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) within 30 minutes of lifting and, as I am walking to the gym, will take a pre-workout supplement like C4.

The pre-workout I take will usually be a caffeine shot or a pre-workout supplement that consists of caffeine anhydrous. And I will only have 150–300 mg of caffeine anhydrous — usually 2 scoops — depending on the brand and serving size.

This is a pre-workout supplement I am currently taking.

At times, I experiment with different supplements as part of reviewing them on my YouTube channel. Go and check it out here (and subscribe!)

I am not training with a carbohydrate if I am training fasted. I am only relying on the caffeine in the pre-workout to push me through the training session.

According to the research, eating carbohydrates such as oatmeal, figs, or white potato within 30 minutes of your training session will provide your muscles the fuel necessary to survive your workouts — but carbohydrate will not directly stimulate muscle growth.

So carbs are great for energy (this is just common sense — we’ll thank the researchers anyway!) but, due to their contribution for providing greater energy, we will be able to push extra reps and more weight! Translating to greater muscular breakdown and therefore, greater muscle repair.

This means more gains! Ha!

What Pre-Workout Carbohydrates Should I Eat?

I used to eat a single banana as my pre-workout carbohydrate — along with my 30 grams of protein mixed with water, usually within 30 minutes of starting a weight training session.

Now I just have caffeine with my protein shake!

But the choice is yours — whether you wish to take a pre-workout carbohydrate or not. If you are looking at doing endurance exercise, the research suggests a low-glycemic carbohydrate; short-duration weight training sessions — aim for high-glycemic carbs.

I’ve had figs, white potato, white rice, oatmeal, and bananas as a pre-workout carbohydrate in the past. Check out the photo above — that oatmeal was totally awesome. I had that 1–2 hours before a weight training session one time and felt like a machine!

Go to Google and type in “low-glycemic carbs” and you’ll get a list of food to choose from.

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How Much Pre-Workout Carbohydrate Is Enough?

There have been several studies I have looked at, including this one which compared a group of lifters that consumed almost 30 grams of carbohydrate pre-workout.

At the end of the 8 week study, the researchers found that subjects showed improved muscular endurance.

When I was taking pre-workout carbohydrates back-in-the-day, I would personally cap my pre-workout carbohydrate at 50 grams. The reason for this was due to some people reporting mild reactive hypoglycemia by taking a sudden high-glycemic serving of carbohydrate.

If you are wondering how you can quantify 50 grams of carbohydrates — download MyNetDiary on your phone and type in any medium to high-glycemic carbohydrate — and fiddle with portion sizes until you find a portion size that is equivalent of 50 grams.

For example.

Here is a list by Harvard Medical School of 100+ foods and their corresponding glycemic index.

Here is a sample list of possible pre-workout carbohydrate that I pulled from MyNetDiary.

  • 1 medium banana (27 grams of carbs)
  • 1 cup of instant oatmeal by Quaker oats (54 grams of carbs)
  • 1 cup of mango (25 grams of carbs)
  • 50 grams of raisins (40 grams of carbs)

You should play around with serving sizes, carbohydrate types, and timings. Use MyNetDiary or MyFitnessPal. If you prefer using CalorieKing — do that 🙂

Some people need to have their instant oatmeal 1–2 hours pre-workout. While having their 30 gram pre-workout protein shake within 20–30 minutes of their training session.

Other people fair great taking upwards of 100 grams of high-glycemic carbohydrate with their protein shake, 30 minutes out. Play with it and see what works for you.

If you need any help or have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. I will be happy to help you out!

LEARN HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN MEAL PLANS AROUND THE FOOD YOU LOVE THE MOST, WHILE BUILDING THE BODY OF YOUR DREAMS.

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