By: Robert A. Schinetsky Carbohydrate is a four letter word these days. You know the kind of four letter words we’re talking about -- the kind of words that if you uttered them as a child, your mother would have immediately followed up their outburst with a dash of cayenne pepper or soapy water to the tongue. For some reason, carbohydrates have been demonized in the media, in the fitness community, and even in the world of athletics. Perhaps it’s the increasing popularity of low carb/no carb diets like Paleo or Ketogenic diets, but more likely the abject fear of carbs come from a misunderstanding about their form and function for people, athletes especially. So, let’s start things off right there... Carbohydrates are Fuel for Exercise Essentially, think of your body as a high performance machine (like a sports car), and carbohydrates as your premium octane performance fuel. To get the most out of your car, you put in the good stuff. You wouldn’t dare put cheap 87 octane gas in your Ferrari or Lamborghini. You’re only going to put in 94 octane, nothing else. Carbohydrates are the 94 octane fuel for your muscles. Sure, your body can technically run on a diet of only protein and fats, but your performance will be significantly impacted. That’s where carbohydrates come in. They provide the ideal source of energy to power your mind and muscles during training. Consuming the right type and amount of carbohydrates fill up your tank (glycogen reserves), allowing you to perform at a high level for sustained periods of time. And it’s here that people often get tripped up with carb consumption -- they don’t tailor their carb intake to suit their training needs. The combat athlete or high level bodybuilder has drastically different carbohydrates requirements than the desk worker who only hits the gym to walk/job on the treadmill for 30 mins two to three times per week. Let’s take a deeper look at determining your appropriate carb intake for a given day. Guidelines for Carbohydrate Consumption ● Very low to low training volume = 0-1g/lb: Ex. sedentary desk job, commuter lifestyle, low volume strength training ● Moderate-high training volume = 1-2g/lb Ex. Hypertrophy training), moderately active job (personal trainer, teacher, waitress, etc.), walk or cycle to/from work ● High training volume = 2-3g/lb Ex. Competitive athlete performing 2-a-days or 2+ hour long workouts, physically demanding job (group fitness workout, manual labor), lots of daily activity (cycling, jogging, walking) ● Very high training volume = 3+g/lb Ex. Endurance sport athlete who trains multiple sessions per day or combat athlete engaged in multiple training/sparring bouts daily Benefits of Carbohydrates for Performance and Recovery ● Quicker recovery between sets/rounds during training ● Greater stamina ● Prevents excessive muscle breakdown ● Increases training threshold (able to handle greater workloads and training volume) ● Decreased soreness ● Accelerated muscle recovery between workouts Best Carbohydrate Sources for Athletes The cornerstone of any person’s diet, regardless if you’re involved in competitive athletics, should be nutrient-dense, whole food sources consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Common examples of these are: ● Potatoes ● Sweet potatoes/yams ● Bananas ● Strawberries ● Blueberries ● Apples ● Rice ● Quinoa ● Farro ● Whole wheat pasta ● Beans (kidney, white, red, black, pinto, etc.) ● Broccoli ● Asparagus ● Whole wheat breads The list goes on, but you get the picture. Now, when it comes to consuming the right type of carbohydrates before, during, and after training, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind. While the whole food sources listed above offer the perfect balance of energy, nutrition, and satiety, they’re not always ideal to eat immediately during training. Just think about how heavy a baked potato is, and then imagine eating one of those 30-60 minutes before hitting the gym -- not the most pleasant thought is it. The time around your training (peri workout) is crucial, and selecting the perfect carbohydrate is essential to avoiding the heavy, sluggish feeling and maximizing performance. For this reason, Apollon Nutrition has developed the perfect performance carbohydrate for hard training athletes in Cluster Bomb. What is Cluster Bomb? Cluster Bomb is a 100% pure performance carbohydrate supplement utilizing the power of Cluster Dextrin -- the premier carbohydrate for serious athletes. Cluster Dextrin® is a trademarked form of highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD), a groundbreaking carbohydrate derived from amylopectin, a starch naturally occurring in plants. Cluster Dextrin boasts a very low osmolality and high molecular weight, which basically means it flies through your digestive system at lightning speed and is rapidly absorbed by your muscles during intense exercise. Unlike other carbs typically used around training (i.e. maltodextrin, dextrose, etc.), Cluster Bomb won’t sit heavy in your stomach or leave you feeling slow, sluggish, or lethargic during or after training. Due to its rapid digestion and absorption, Cluster Bomb is in and out of your GI system and into your working muscles, enhancing and sustaining performance, no matter how long you train. This is why we say Cluster Bomb is the athlete’s carbohydrate! Numerous studies have shown that Cluster Dextrin not only enhances your performance, it can also speed recovery, eliminating those nasty DOMS that assault your muscles following a tough workout.[2,3] Ideal Uses for Cluster Bomb There’s more ways than one to use Cluster Bomb. Since Cluster Bomb is unflavored, it mixes seamlessly into whatever supplement, shake, or food you’re consuming and actually enhances the flavor of whatever you’re eating. Here’s a few of our top recommendations on how we like to use Cluster Bomb. Give one of these a try and see for yourself! ● Pre Workout Mix one scoop of Cluster Bomb with a serving of Hooligan or Bare Knuckle to provide the quick infusion of glucose your mind and muscles need for the intense training ahead ● Intra Workout Combine one scoop of Cluster Bomb with a serving of Chainsaw to enhance and sustain your high level of performance, no matter how long your training session lasts ● Post Workout No time is more beneficial to consume carbohydrates than immediately post workout. Glycogen levels are depleted and your muscles are craving for nutrients to fuel the repair and recovery process. Mix a scoop of Cluster Bomb into either Enigma or 50/50 Formula-X Protein. The flood of rapid-digesting carbohydrates will enhance nutrient uptake of the essential amino acids and recovery agents utilized in Enigma and 50/50 Formula-X to accelerate muscle repair, replenish glycogen levels, and reduce muscle soreness. References 1. Takii H, Takii Nagao Y, Kometani T, et al. Fluids containing a highly branched cyclic dextrin influence the gastric emptying rate. Int J Sports Med. 2005;26(4):314-319. 2. TAKII H, ISHIHARA K, KOMETANI T, OKADA S, FUSHIKI T. Enhancement of Swimming Endurance in Mice by Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1999;63(12):2045-2052. doi:10.1271/bbb.63.2045. 3. Furuyashiki T, Tanimoto H, Yokoyama Y, Kitaura Y, Kuriki T, Shimomura Y. Effects of ingesting highly branched cyclic dextrin during endurance exercise on rating of perceived exertion and blood components associated with energy metabolism. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2014;78(12):2117-2119. doi:10.1080/09168451.2014.943654.