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Tha Facts on Waxy Maize Supplements and Other Post Workout Carb Supplements Part 1

A few years back a bunch of studies supported the concept that both the timing and type of carbohydrate athletes used could have positive effects - for both aerobic and anaerobic oriented athletes. Since then there has been a rush to find the "best" pre and post workout carb source. As is typical for the bodybuilding/fitness industry, a new "miracle" carb source burst onto the market almost monthly promising muscle growth second only to an Anadrol* enema, but I digress... The point being, there's been a great deal of information, misinformation, and down right disinformation, regarding these "amazing miracle anabolic" carb sources. The pinnacle of which, is Waxy Maize Starch (WMS), but before we get to that, let's back up a second to recap why the focus on these carb sources.

A Brief History...

The basic concept goes like so: Most people are aware that nutrient timing is as important as nutrient composition. In other words, it's not just what you eat, but when you eat it that gives optimal results. As the man said, "Timing is everything." Consuming the right nutrients at the right time can have positive effects on body composition, which can equal more muscle and less body fat as well as improved performance.

Following an intense exercise session, there's a "metabolic window" - so to speak - where the body preferentially shuttles glucose, amino acids, and other nutrients, into the liver and muscles via both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent transport mechanisms. Translated, this means your body will shuttle carbs and protein into the tissues you want (muscle) instead of storing them as fat after a workout. So far so good...

To carry the analogy further, the metabolic window doesn't stay open indefinitely, so you need to take advantage of the opportunity while it lasts.

A number of studies have found that a post-workout drink containing high-GI carbs** is highly anti-catabolic. Adding protein to the mix - depending on the protein - has an additive effect with the two working synergistically to create an anabolic environment that's superior to either nutrient alone.

Obviously there's a great deal more to it, but the above is intended as a quick recap of the concept vs. an exhaustive review on the topic.

Back to Waxy Maize Starch (WMS)

So with the above brief summary of why the big interest in various carb sources pre and or post workout, we can focus for a moment on WMS. WMS has been pushed heavily as an optimal carb source with sellers claiming superior effects to other common carb sources such as maltodextrin and dextrose. Claims of faster glycogen resynthesis after tough workouts "rapid absorption" and faster gastric emptying, are the common claims made by those selling WMS. I'm sure people have also seen claims about "high molecular weight, low osmolality" and other fancy terms being thrown around also. So is any of this true, or have people been fed another over hyped poorly supported bag of goods? Let's see...

"Just The Facts Ma'am"

One major claim of WMS is "rapid glycogen" storage after exercise compared to other carbs. One study compared WMS to dextrose, maltodextrin, and a "resistant"*** starch. 8 male cyclists were put through a workout designed to deplete their glycogen stores**** so their muscles would be primed for glycogen storage as mentioned above in the "Brief History" section. Furthermore, after feeding them these various carb sources - at 24 hours after the glycogen depleting workout program - glycogen levels were essentially the same between the WMS, dextrose, and malto. In fact - although not statistically significant - dextrose was the best of the bunch in this study for getting glycogen levels back up after the exercise protocol (1) which is what athletes should strive for after tough workouts.

Another big claim of WMS is as a pre workout carb source, but is it any better than, say dextrose? The answer appears to be NO. Ten well trained, elite male cyclists were given either WMS, dextrose, resistant starch (RS), or placebo, and their ability to sustain endurance work after ingesting these carb sources and placebo tested. Performance during prolonged endurance exercise is related to the ability to maintain blood glucose levels via glycogen storage and ingested carbs before and or during the exercise. So, these researchers wanted to see which of these carb sources consumed pre-exercise would maintain performance during prolonged exercise. That is, which carb source would fuel the greatest amount of work in the final 30 minutes. First, they gave the cyclists (at separate times) each of the carbs (about a 75 gram dose) 30 minutes before their 2-hour ride. The blood glucose and insulin response from dextrose was 3 times higher in the first 15 minutes; at 30 minutes glucose was still over 1.5 times higher while insulin remained 3 times higher. Then they did their exhaustive ride. The study found dextrose and WMS similar (although dextrose still had a slight edge) in their ability to maintain performance with RS and placebo being less effective (2). Again, WMS did not show itself to be anything special and slightly less effective then good old dextrose. This also is the first study (of several-see more below) to show WMS to be low glycemic and low insulinemic (low insulin spiking).

"So Why All The Hype, Will?"

So at this point the reader is thinking "then why all the hype over Waxy Maize, Will? Where is all this info coming from about this carb source being so great if it's not so great?!" I feel your pain and will answer your questions! This is where things get more interesting.

See Part 2!

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