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HBCD’s: The Best Intra Workout Carbs

Designer starches called highly branched cyclic dextrins (HBCD’s) are currently the rage in physique sports. There has been a race to find the best Intra workout carbs. HBCDs are a major carbohydrate source used in many products on the market these days. You have complete formulas like Mind and Muscle’s Intrafuse that contain BCAA’s, Glutamine, Hydromax Glycerol, Taurine, and Bitter Melon. Some companies even sell plain HBCDs as a stand-alone product. Many claims have been made regarding there use, but do these HBCD’s really live up to all there hyperbole? What exactly are HBCDs? How do HBCD’s work? How can we use these “designer” carbohydrates to raise our nutrition and training up a level?

First off, we need to take a look at carbohydrate supplementation in general. It’s a great strategy to include a carbohydrate supplement in your Intra-workout drink. This accomplishes two things specifically. One, it will deliver a quick and steady stream of energy to your muscles allowing you to work harder. Two, it utilizes our most anabolic hormone, insulin. This allows the following: increased performance, increased protein synthesis, and inhibits catabolism resulting from hard training. It is also standard to use a combination of quickly digesting proteins along with a carbohydrate source in Intra-workout nutrition shakes. Protein is very important, but choosing the best Intra workout carbs is the key to performance.

Dextrose And Simple Carbohydrates: Not So Fast!

Dextrose anOptimized-image4d other simple carbs look wonderful on paper, but not all things are so simple. Human bodies are extremely complex in nature. The small intestine has osmoreceptors in the lining. These receptors sense the osmolality or concentration of the food or liquid as it exits the stomach. These receptors send signals back to the stomach hormones and neurons, thus controlling the gastric emptying rate. When osmoreceptors sense a high osmolality solution leaving the stomach, it slows gastric emptying. This is why simple sugars aren’t a good choice: In spite of rapid absorption this solution has a very high osmolality. This slows gastric emptying into the small intestine, where carbs are actually absorbed. Worse, in the context of an Intra-workout nutrition shake, you aren’t only delaying the delivery of carbs; delivery of those precious proteins will also be delayed. This presents the problem that using simple sugars always presents.

To grasp this, one first needs to understand osmolality. Osmolality measures the concentration of a solution. In terms of osmoles solute (Osm) per kilogram of solvent. For all purposes here, the “solute” is the powder in your drink and the solvent is the water in your Intra-workout drink. This stops the digestive system from being overloaded by holding up the solution in the stomach.

Enter The Glycemic Index

Concentrated simple carbohydrate solutions have a high osmolality, resulting in delayed gastric emptying. Usually when rapid carbs are needed, high glycemic index carbohydrates are chosen. Glycemic Index (GI) measures the elevation in blood glucose levels after consuming carbs. Simple sugars, with a high glycemic index seems odd!

Think of a race, where each type of carbohydrate is a different car. Glucose is always the fastest car on the track. The issue is that once the race starts, the slow cars are into small intestine asap. Meanwhile, glucose is still at the start line in the stomach. Glucose doesn’t flinch. It’s the fastest car on the track by a long way and will easily make up the time. Glucose waits until the race is almost over, blazes by all the other carbohydrates in a flash, going from the small intestine into circulation. This creates another problem entirely. This rapid rise in blood sugar is responded by a high insulin output. This results in rapid hypoglycemia, not great for training.

High Molecular Weight Starches: The Solution

The solution is to trick the stomach into releasing large amounts of carbohydrate into the small intestine for rapid absorption. Using the race car analogy, we a need a slow car, that’s quick off the line, allowing for a rapid, but sustainable blood sugar elevation. High molecular weight starches are perfect in this way. By linking numerous glucose molecules together to form high molecular weight starches. One molecule could consist of  thousands of individual glucose molecules linked together. HBCD’s have a markedly lower osmolality when in solution. Whether, having 100,000 free glucose molecules in solution or 10 HBCD molecules consisting of 1000 glucose molecules. You’d still have the same number of glucose molecules, just in 2 different forms. So each solution ultimately contains 100,000 glucose molecules, but one is higher in osmolality, and the other is lower. Recall, osmolality = molecules of solute/ kg of solvent.  The value of HBCD’s is that there lower in osmolality compared to free glucose. This means HBCD’s empty from the stomach rapidly.

Although emptied from the stomach rapidly, high molecular starches are very large. So, they need to be broken down into free glucose before they are absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestine. This property makes them a near perfect carbohydrate source. Waxy maize starch was the most popular of these carbohydrate sources. Waxy maize consists of almost pure amylopectin, a very branched starch. It is essentially a long glucose chain and a multitude of branches. Remember, high molecular weight = low osmolality in solution. Thus, resulting in rapid gastric emptying rate, followed by a slow absorbtion in the small intestine.

Hello HBCD’s

IntraFactsThe current state of the art carbohydrate supplementation, involves taking natural starches like the amylopectin in waxy maize. Then, enzymatically modifying its molecular structure to increase molecular weight as well as the extent of branching/crosslinking. This results in increased molecular weight. Thus, reducing osmolality and speeding up gastric emptying. By increasing branching/crosslinking, it’s harder for digestive enzymes to break down these large molecules which extends absorption time in the small intestine. The end result is an ideal carbohydrate source which passes through the stomach very rapidly, but is absorbed very slowly into the blood stream. Buy your Intrafuse today from Mind and Muscle and start taking your workouts to the next level.


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