What Is Carb Timing and Can It Boost Your Workout Performance?

A TikTok trend that saw users snacking on Rice Krispies treats before heading to the gym was a big news story in August. The promise: Eating processed foods before going to the gym will boost athletic performance. This trend is often associated with the hashtag #fitnessgains.

The phenomenon, sometimes called carbohydrate (carb timing) or carb loading, was quickly recognized by fitness experts. You’re familiar with the concept if you have ever made a large plate of pasta prior to a long cardio session, an approach that has been around since before the advent of the internet.

If you are looking for ways to improve your fitness, then the TikTok videos might be of interest. Is carb timing a way to improve your workout? Is there a right or wrong way to eat this macronutrient?

carb workout performance

That being said, why is working out necessary?

Working out is essential for a healthy body and mind. Not only does it help to lose weight, but it also improves your mental health by increasing concentration, creativity, and resolve. It has been shown to be effective in reducing stress levels and may even improve moods.

Additionally, working out can increase the level of endorphins in your system which are associated with feelings of happiness and euphoria. Consequently, working out not just helps you look good on the outside but also on the inside!

Exercise has countless benefits, including:

• boosting mood and stress relief

• improving cognitive function and memory

• reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression

• increasing energy levels and preventing weight gain

• promoting healthy skin, hair, nails, bones, digestion, heart health… you get the point!

Coming back to the topic, many sports medicine specialists agree that the answer is complex. It depends on how intense you work out, how long you train, and how much you push yourself. It also depends on when and what you ate before your workout started, they add.

“If your daily carbohydrate needs are met through your diet, then most workouts don’t require pre workout carbs,” states Nick Tiller. He is a researcher at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California and the author of The Skeptic’s Guide To Sports Science.

Dr. Tiller suggests that carb loading prior to a workout can sometimes be a good idea if you plan on exercising for longer than 90 minutes, or if your workout is intense like interval training.

These are situations when the body can burn its stored carbohydrates. High-carbohydrate drinks and gels may help to prevent fatigue, Tiller states. The body will likely have enough stored carbohydrate to function well with shorter and less intense workouts.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of a personal trainer in Tampa, one-on-one training, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!