FAQ’s – Is it Better to Consume Carbs Before or After a Workout?

Q: Is it better to consume high-glycemic carbs before or after a workout?

It’s difficult to say if one is better than another because they both offer their own benefits.

Carbs pre-workout:


+ provide a source of energy for the workout (it should be noted that weight training runs mostly on stored glycogen and a very small percentage 2-5% coming from the blood and what’s been consumed immediately pre-workout. However, in carb depleted individuals, the carbs in the bloodstream can play more of a role and the ‘every little bit counts’ theory comes into play)

+ stimulate the release of insulin which can help drive the pump and improve the quality of the workout (note that intra-workout carbs can do this as well)

+ anti-catabolic effects to protect the muscles against the stress of the workout and corresponding cortisol and free radical release.


-In some individuals, consuming high glycemic carbs pre-workout can lead to an energy crash during the workout due to blood sugar fluctuations, making them feel sluggish or weighed down.

– although the release is insulin helps with the pump, it can also blunt fat burning. So clients that are focused primary on fat burning as a goal shouldn’t focus on carbs pre-workout and make the most of their fat burning opportunities (noted that weight training is not a major fat burning activity, however it should be considered as playing a role in the overall picture)

-consuming carbs pre-workout can take away from the insulin sensitivity in the post-workout window due to the frequency of pancreas stimulation / insulin release. Some clients don’t include carbs pre-workout so they can take advantage of one big load post-workout.

….the safe and acceptable answer to say is, it’s better to consume carbs ‘peri’ workout – which means ‘around your workout’ to satisfy both sides of the debate.

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