Is There a Role for High GI carbs for Bodybuilders and other Athletes

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After all the high GI carb bashing I just did, the reader might think there is no place for them in the bodybuilders diet. This assumption would be wrong.

As the expression goes, "there is a time and place for everything" and there is one key time and place for high GI carbs, immediately following workouts.

Following workouts the body preferentially shuttles glucose into the liver and muscles replacing lost glycogen via both insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent glucose transport mechanisms (Gautier, J.F., 2001).

This is the key time to take advantage of the one thing high GI carbs do well: raise blood sugar and insulin quickly. Post workout, the catabolic (muscle wasting) hormone cortisol rises.

Drinking a post workout drink consisting of high GI carbs and fast acting proteins is perhaps the best way to prevent the post workout effects of cortisol due to the sharp rise in insulin which is known to counter act the effects of cortisol (Kraemer, W.J., et al, 1998).

Some bodybuilders will eat a high GI meal such as a bowl of white rice or corn flakes in skim milk, and drink a protein shake consisting of whey with it or mix a carb drink with a few scoops of protein powder.

Interestingly, studies have found a better insulin response when carbs and protein is mixed together post workout over carbs alone (Ivy, J.L., 1998). Specific grams of carbs per kg of bodyweight formulas exist for post workout carbohydrate and proteins recommendations (Burke, L.M., 1997), though 75-100g of high GI carbs and 30-50 grams of protein is the norm with most athletes and will suffice.

These numbers would of course be subtracted from the days total for carbs, proteins, and calories (see below). In a nut shell:

• High GI foods can help refill liver and muscle glycogen stores immediately following exercise and may reduce the catabolic effects of cortisol post workout.

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