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Carbohydrates are currently getting a bad rep—the rise of keto and low carb diets has led many health-conscious people to believe they’re the enemy.
The truth is, whether a cardio athlete or anaerobic bodybuilder—carbohydrates can prove invaluable.
This article brings you the best carbohydrate supplements on the market—and a handy buying guide.
The Best Carbohydrate Supplements - Top Five
Here are what I consider to be the best carbohydrate supplements currently available:
1. NOW Sports Carbo Gain Powder
If you’re a seriously competitive athlete or a sportsperson who is subject to drug-testing—this may be one of the best carbohydrate supplements for you.
This product has been independently tested and achieved “Informed-Sport” certification—meaning that there are no ingredients that will produce a positive banned substance result. Hence you can consume with confidence.
It delivers 60 grams of carbohydrate in its 63-gram serving (95 percent). People on a low salt diet should be aware it contains two percent sodium.
The carbohydrate content is all from maltodextrin—a fast-acting and easily absorbed carb which, in this particular product, is sourced from non-GMO corn.
- Large 8 lbs (3.6 kg) container—57 servings.
- Family-owned US company.
- No artificial sweeteners.
- Users have remarked that it tastes a little salty.
2. EFX Sports Carbolyn
If you want the energy-boosting power of a carbohydrate supplement—but hate the crash that some pre-workouts can provide—this may be the ideal product.
This nutritional booster takes pride in the fact that it’s completely stimulant free—meaning all your energy bursts come from natural glucose—not caffeine.
In each 52.5-gram serving, this product packs in 50 grams of carbohydrate (95 percent). Furthermore, the product is delivered in a one-kilogram container (2.2 pounds) providing 19 servings.
The carbohydrate in this supplement is Karbolyn—a patent-pending compound that’s both complex (delivering sustained release) yet is also quickly absorbed by the body.
- Available in 14 flavors.
- Sugar, stimulant, and gluten-free.
- Karbolyn is naturally sourced from potato, rice, and corn.
- Contains zero sodium.
- Some users feel bloated after consumption.
3. Metabolic Nutrition Glycoload
If you’re already consuming solid amounts of carbohydrates through food and just want to “top up” your stores—this could be a good choice.
Each 20-gram serving provides 15 grams of carbohydrate (75 percent)—perfect for giving your diet a little extra kick—but will not take training or muscle-building to the extreme.
Furthermore, this product is fortified with the important minerals of calcium, magnesium, and potassium—so may suit those looking for a more comprehensive supplement.
While not the most potent of carb products—the carbohydrate source, dextrin, is micronized. Meaning that the particles have been reduced in size—allowing for faster absorption and efficacy.
Each tub contains 600 grams—sufficient product for 30 servings.
- Extra minerals included.
- Micronized for fast absorption.
- Good post workout and energy supplement.
- Low carb content may make it unappealing to hardcore athletes.
4. Genius Carb
Made from pea starch, this supplement’s carbohydrate content is known as Carb10—a trademarked formula which the manufacturer’s claim provides a lower insulin response.
This means that the high spikes and drops that maltodextrin can provide are avoided—instead, supplying a sustained and more balanced energy delivery. It may be appealing to endurance athletes, such as runners and cyclists, who have extended training periods—as opposed to bodybuilders.
This is also one of the purest carbohydrate supplements—with every 10-gram serving including nothing but carbs.
However, with a container of just 300 g of product—serious users who find they need more than the suggested 10 g dose would race through this quickly. Not achieving the 30 servings as stated.
- 100 percent carbohydrate.
- Prevents peaks and troughs.
- Non-GMO and gluten-free.
- A low dose in each serving.
- 300 grams total product could be insufficient for some.
5. Evogen Glycoject
This supplement is primarily designed for the bodybuilder—formulated to “pull” water into the muscles for the ultimate in hardness and definition. In addition to its 25 grams of carbohydrate per 27-gram serving (93 percent)—it includes citrulline and fenugreek.
Like the product from EFX sports, this supplements’ carb source is the proprietary Karbolyn—although Evogen contains around half the total carbohydrate content of its competitor.
The one-kilogram container (2.2 pounds) provides 37 servings.
- Formulated with the bodybuilder in mind.
- Includes additional ingredients to boost muscle building power.
- Respected manufacturer.
- Some ingredients may be superfluous if used purely as a nutritional booster.
Informational guide to Carbohydrate Supplements
Carbohydrates make up one of the three macronutrients—the others being fat and protein (although sometimes alcohol is included as a fourth). These carbohydrates fulfill numerous functions within the body, but primarily they’re the “go-to” source of energy.
Generally speaking, there are two forms of carbohydrates—simple and complex. This nomenclature refers to their chemical structure. In the most basic terms, complex carbohydrates are made up of longer chains of sugar molecules than the simple type.
When they’re consumed, the body releases insulin—signaling the body to either use the glucose from the carbohydrates for an immediate energy “hit,” or convert into glycogen and stored for later energy use.
If you’re interested in how the body utilizes carbs—here’s an easy to follow video.
What Are Carbohydrate Supplements, then?
Supplied in powder form, carbohydrate supplements allow you to ingest fast-acting carbs easily—without having to consume high quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods (such as potatoes and pasta).
This means that carb-loading can be achieved in just a few short minutes—instead of having to cook and then consume a full meal before working out.
Primarily, these supplements are designed for people who demand the energy boost that carbohydrates can provide—bodybuilders, athletes, sportspersons, and general fitness enthusiasts.
That being said, some people use carbohydrate supplements purely as a nutritional booster—where their current diet (due to intolerances, allergies, and preferences) lacks sufficient quantities of this macronutrient.
What Are the Benefits of Carbohydrate Supplements?
Here are the advantages that carbohydrate supplements can provide to the determined fitness enthusiast:
Elevates Energy and Sporting Performance
Loading with carbohydrates ensures that your body has sufficient energy to power through even the hardest of workouts.
Research has indicated that elevating glycogen stores means that fatigue is staved off and you can push through longer and harder. Thus boosting cardio health, muscle gains, and overall fitness.
Furthermore, if you’re looking to gain serious mass—you need a calorie surplus. Carbohydrate supplements can help to provide this positive energy balance.
Preserves Muscle and Tone
Carbohydrate supplements can prevent muscle loss during times of dieting or when on a break from training.
Pushing yourself hard means your glycogen stores are depleted. Consuming carbohydrate supplements after your workout replenishes these reserves—vital for muscle repair, recovery, and growth.
Best Time to Take Carbohydrate Supplements
For sports and workout enhancement, carbohydrate supplements are typically consumed one to two hours prior to training—allowing sufficient time for them to be absorbed and turned into glucose.
During training itself, your stores can be “topped” up by further ingestion. Plus, post-training consumption improves recovery time.
It’s recommended that adults consume a minimum of 130 grams of carbs per day—although this is inadequate for serious muscle mass growth and training enhancement.
As sex, age, weight, and performance goals affect carb requirements—here’s a handy calculator to find your ideal amount.
While these products are completely safe and unlikely to cause any side effects—they shouldn’t be consumed by anyone under 18 years—unless under the direction of a physician.
What to Look for in Carbohydrate Supplements
Here are some features to consider when selecting the best carbohydrate supplements:
For the maximum in workout returns, it may be beneficial to select a supplement with a high carb content.
As recommended serving sizes differ from manufacturer to manufacturer—check how much of this potent macronutrient is delivered as a percentage of the overall serving.
If you’re working out every day—a product which is going to last a long time might be one of the best carbohydrate supplements for you. Casual gym-goers could get by with a smaller quantity.
Carbohydrate Source and Properties
Many of the best carbohydrate supplements use dextrose, maltodextrin, or waxy maize as their source—others are extracts from vegetables such as potatoes or rice.
These compounds can differ in efficacy and speed of digestion. Furthermore, some people have intolerances for certain foodstuffs. Hence consider the carb source when selecting your product.
Despite the increasing popularity of dropping carbs from the diet—for the dedicated sports person or gym-junkie—the best carbohydrate supplements can prove invaluable.
They have the power to rapidly boost energy, enhance muscle growth, retain muscle during dieting or down-times, and vastly improve recovery speed.
For me, the best carb product on the market is NOW Sports Carbo Gain. This supplement packs in a mighty 60 grams of fast-acting maltodextrin, provides an incredible 57 servings, is made in the USA, and is vegan-friendly.
However, serious bodybuilders might prefer the testosterone-boosting Evogen Glycoject, while people wanting just to increase nutritional intake may like Metabolic Nutrition’s Glycoload.
But, for all-around power, dose, volume, and efficacy—my top rated product is Now Sports Carbo Gain.