The question of which carbohydrate sources are best for you depends on quite a few factors.
Most carbohydrates in powder form are absorbed very quickly. Consumers are often looking for a quick energy source prior to training, a source that will rapidly restore blood glucose levels (in the case of post training) as well as a trigger insulin release, which is reported to be important for muscle growth through increased protein synthesis.
Many people will take carbohydrates with protein, especially when 'Bulking' or trying to increase muscle mass. When attempting to gain weight, it is typical for people to have carbohydrate to protein at a 1-1 or even 2-1 ratio (ie 60g of Carbs to 30g of Protein).
Please note: Ensure you take an adequate amount of fluid when consuming carbohydrate supplements as FSANZ warns that high carbohydrate supplements may cause gastro intestinal upset if not consumed according to directions.
Dextrose is generally the most popular carbohydrate used by bodybuilders. It is a monosaccharide, which means it is a single chained carbohydrate, which results in very fast absorption. D
extrose is quite sweet (80% as sweet as sugar) so is great for flavouring unflavoured proteins or those who have a sweet tooth.
Dextrose mixes very well and has a great texture, it is generally said to improve the mixability and taste of proteins so works very well when blended with proteins. Dextrose is likely the best carbohydrate for those looking for a rapid insulin spike, which also means it should be avoided for those concerned about these effects (and the possible weight gain due to it).
Maltodextrin is by definition a complex carbohydrate (as it is multi chained with a complex structure), however due to its weak bonds it is rapidly absorbed by the body, in a very similar time frame to Dextrose.
Maltodextrin has slightly less of an impact on insulin levels but will still raise insulin significantly.
Maltodextrin is slightly sweet (much less sweet than Dextrose) and is the best choice for those who want a carbohydrate which has a great texture, mixes well and does not affect the taste of their protein.
There has been some research into the combination of using Maltodextrin along with Dextrose. It is reported (but not particularly well verified) that the combination of these is ideal for rapid absorption, thanks to their structure. Due to this, many people prefer to take a combination of Maltodextrin and Dextrose at a ratio of 50:50.
Waxy Maize Starch (WMS) is a complex carbohydrate which is not as well understood as dextrose or maltodextrin. WMS received a lot of press due to the release of a patented high molecular weight – “Vitargo” some years back. Vitargo was originally a Waxy Maize Starch, however now it utilises another carbohydrate.
The benefits of High Molecular Weight Carbohydrates are due to the effect they have on gastric emptying. The theory here is that, the higher molecular weight a carbohydrate has, the less molecules will be present for a certain volume of liquid. The lower the “osmolality” of solutions the faster they will leave the stomach and the faster the absorption.
Unfortunately the original studies which proved Vitargo’s rapid absorption have not been replicated since on other starches, however the theory is that as other Waxy Maize Starchs have very high molecular weights, the same results are probable.
If using Waxy Maize Starch there are some key steps, which must be taken to gain maximum benefit. It is suggested that a ratio of 3-1 is the minimum (so 45g of WMS per 15g of Amino Acids), and the volume of liquid (ideally water) must be high.
We do not recommend mixing Waxy Maize Starch with whey proteins due its taste and texture (it will make your whey taste much less pleasant) and it is highly unlikely the rapid absorption benefits of Waxy Maize Starch will be gained if it is mixed with whey.
Fine Powdered Oats is perhaps the most versatile and suitable carbohydrate for general use. Fine Powdered Oats have all the nutritional benefits of oats, being high in vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as protein. Oats are considered complex carbohydrates, however our fine oat powder is highly refined so although the sugar content is very low, these would still be considered a rapidly absorbed carbohydrate with a high GI (though not as high as Dextrose or Maltodextrin).
Fine Powdered Oats mix well and have minimal texture so they are great for adding to whey protein when making a bulking shake.
If your nutritional intake is lacking, then Fine Powdered Oats would be the best carbohydrate to use. They can be used for energy source pre-training as well as for post workout to restore glycogen levels. They are also great added to pancakes and other baking!