Fast and Slow-Digesting Carbs: Do You Need Them?

Fast and Slow Digesting Carbs

For some reason, carbohydrates are demonized these days, and people are drastically reducing their intake or eliminating carbs altogether. The fact is, you need carbohydrates — especially if you’re an endurance athlete. With fast and slow-digesting carbs, you need a mix in order to help improve endurance and allow your body to properly recover from training and competitions.

The secret to staying fit is not just a great workout program but also what you eat before and after the training session. Even if you are not an endurance athlete but someone who merely lives an active lifestyle, gaining the necessary knowledge about the nutrients you need and consume is the first step to take your performance to the next level and get better results from your efforts.

It’s commonly said that carbs are unhealthy, they convert into sugar, get stored as body fat, cause weight gain, and reduce your ability to burn fat. You’ve probably heard all of this and more! But the truth is — CARBS ARE FUEL FOR YOUR BODY.

Want to maintain peak performance and recovery? There are different carbohydrates that come into play.

Fast and Slow-Digesting Carbs

When looking at carbohydrates, you have two types — fast and slow-digesting carbs. These are also known as simple and complex carbohydrates.

Fast-Digesting Carbs

chocolate bar

If you were to look at simple or fast-digesting carbs, you might consider sources like white rice, a candy bar, cookies, ice cream, cereal, or even pasta. These types of carbs hit the system quickly and spike insulin while also rapidly causing an increase in energy. The downside of fast-digesting carbs is that just as quickly as they hit and produce energy, they are used up, and your energy levels can crash. Clearly, this isn’t ideal if you’re an athlete, but when you combine both fast and slow-digesting carbs at certain times, they can be extremely beneficial.

Slow-Digesting Carbs


Slow-digesting carbs are also known as complex carbs. As the name implies, slow-digesting carbs break down slowly over time, minimizing the insulin spike and providing more of a sustained release of energy. When you think of complex or slow-digesting carbs, you may consider foods like sweet potatoes, whole grain rice, legumes, oats, and whole grain breads.

Why Do You Need Carbs?

Carbohydrates are one of the most important parts of your diet if you want to live a healthy and active life. That said, you also need to be conscious of the types of carbs you’re consuming and when. And if you are an endurance athlete, you simply cannot eliminate consuming carbs. Below are a few reasons why you need carbs.

Improve Performance

man doing pushups

As an athlete, you need to optimize your performance, and carbs play a vital role in it. You need to fuel your body with sufficient carbs in order to avoid fatigue and poor performance. Maintaining high carbs can enhance your workout session as it helps in the functioning of muscles. When you don’t consume enough carbohydrates prior to training, you may quickly burn through your muscle glycogen stores which can lead to a decrease in performance and strength while increasing fatigue.

Pro Tip: When it’s getting close to the time you plan on working out, try to avoid food that is high in fiber and contains fat as that can slow down digestion and not allow your body to properly absorb the carbs and use them as an energy source during your workout.

Speed Up Recovery

man applying an icepack to his elbow

Consuming an adequate amount of carbs following a workout is extremely important to replenish the glycogen lost during exercise. If you don’t refuel your body with carbs, you will not be able to perform optimally during your next workout session.

Pro Tip: The perfect way to refuel your body post-workout (if you are an endurance athlete) is to consume carbs and protein in a ratio of 4:1. That means for every 4 grams of carbs you consume, you’d have 1 gram of protein along with it. RecoverElite is formulated in this ideal ratio to help you refuel and repair optimally!

Boost Endurance and Stamina

woman flipping a tire

As an athlete, you need a lot of endurance and stamina to perform at the highest level, and so your body requires a high amount of carbs. Consuming adequate carbs throughout the day will help you to sustain daily energy needs for training and exercise.

Your carbohydrate requirement ultimately depends upon your body type and the sports you engage in.

Fuel the Muscles and Prevent Breakdown

woman using battle ropes in a squat position

Carbs are one of the best sources of energy for working muscles. If you want your body to work like a well-oiled machine, fuel it with carbs.

Our body stores carbs in the muscles as glycogen and then converts them into glucose when required. This helps the body to sustain long workout sessions and avoid premature fatigue. Also, it helps in preventing muscle breakdown by maintaining and refueling glycogen levels.

How Many Carbs Do You Need and When?

If you’ve made it this far into the article, by now, you clearly understand the importance of carbohydrates in your diet. The next question you may be asking is how much you need? In short, your intake will depend upon your body’s requirements, workout session, type of workout, the duration, and the intensity.

Something to consider is that if you are really confused or don’t understand how to monitor your diet, it would be wise to seek the help of a qualified nutritionist or dietician — especially if you are an athlete.

Let’s take a closer look at pre, intra, and post-workout needs.

Pre-Workout Carbs

pre-workout carbs

The goal of your pre-workout carbs: To maintain optimal energy levels during the workout or athletic event.

If you prefer early morning workouts or training sessions, you’ll want to consume adequate carbs the night before. You may also want to have around 30 grams of carbs prior to your workout or training session in order to help maintain optimal glucose levels.

If you are getting ready for an athletic competition or event, make sure you have a meal containing carbohydrates 3 to 4 hours prior. Your pre-workout meal should contain around 4 grams of carbs per kg of your body weight. Also, add a small amount of protein to help regulate energy levels.

Intra-Workout Carbs

intra-workout carbs

The goal of your intra-workout carbs: To provide added energy to help you get through the last phase of the workout or athletic event.

The carbs consumed during the workout matters as it helps to improve your performance. You can either choose a sports drink or go for a solid or gel form of carb. Don’t confuse a “sports drink” with an “energy drink — they are drastically different. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbs with no caffeine. You will also want to consume water to aid the absorption.

Post-Workout Carbs

post-workout carbs

The goal of your post-workout carbs: To restore energy levels and help replenish the glycogen that was lost during the workout or athletic event.

After you finish your workout or the athletic event, consume a snack containing carbs within 30 minutes. You’ll also want to have a meal within 6 hours to ensure glycogen levels are restored in the muscles.

It is recommended to have 1 to 1.5 grams of carbs per kg of body weight within the first 4 hours of your workout. Add a small amount of protein as well to your meal to support and stimulate muscle repair and recovery.

Maximize Your Performance

Carbs are essential to ensure your body functions at an optimal level. While you can work meals around your workouts, training, and competition, supplements can come in handy and provide you with an added convenience.

EndurElite Sustain is the ultimate powdered sports drink for athletes of all calibers. This specific supplement is made up of electrolytes, amino acids, key vitamins and minerals, as well as a 5-stage sustained energy carbohydrate matrix that is made up of cluster dextrin, cane sugar, fructose, brown rice powder, and sweet potato powder.

The carb matrix found in EndurElite Sustain contains 30 grams of fast and slow-digesting carbohydrates to help you start and finish your workouts and competitions full of energy. With prolonged energy and endurance, you’ll have a competitive advantage compared to those around you.

When your performance and recovery matter, EndurElite Sustain has set a new industry standard. Try it today and feel the difference in your energy and endurance levels!