Sports Drinks Are For Suckers

Simply put, corner-store sport drinks are for suckers. If you’re looking for maximum results from your intra-workout supplement, you need a whole lot more than colorful sugar-water.

Now this isn't to say that carbohydrates don't have a place in your workout supplementation, they definitely do. Having carbohydrates during your workout can drastically improve performance, however not all carbs are created equal when it comes to enhancing performance. One, new type of carbohydrate truly reigns supreme above all others. In fact, this specific carbohydrate was able to increase performance up to 75% more than glucose. If you want to find out how you can boost your performance with this incredible carbohydrate, and where to find it, you want to read this article...

Let's Talk About Carbohydrates

Any talk about carbohydrates is typically associated with the need to reduce them, about how they contribute to fat gain, or when describing low carb diets such as Atkins, or ‘Keto’. For the average sedentary person looking to lose weight but not motivated to do any training, this is the correct view of carbohydrates because carbohydrates are extremely widespread in many foods commonly consumed. If there is one sure way to lose weight without exercising, reducing the overconsumption of carbohydrates is a great place to start.

However when it comes to athletics of any kind (either through exercise or sport), it is very important to understand that carbohydrates are not the enemy. The truth is that carbohydrates are the primary and most readily source of energy to be utilized for any energy-demanding activity. In fact, the general purpose for fat as a fuel, is to preserve carbohydrates for more demanding activities; that’s how valuable carbohydrates really are. This is not a novel concept to elite endurance athletes such as runners, cyclists, triathletes…etc.

Research over the past several decades has validated the benefits of carbohydrate consumption during endurance exercise to optimize performance. The research for resistance training on the other hand, is far less popular.

Since carbohydrates are in demand during intense exercise, they need to be readily available. The body keeps a finite storage of carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, in each muscle for direct use, and then a backup storage of glycogen in the liver, which can be broken down into glucose, dumped in the blood stream and then transported into a working muscle in need. It is easy to underestimate the amount of glycogen required for resistance exercise because compared to endurance exercise the total time spent exercising is generally less. However, the missing link is the extreme high intensity of resistance training. Several studies have reported that bouts of resistance-training can significantly decrease glycogen stores, in one study, by as much as 40% in as little as 5 sets of 10 repetitions at 60% of 1-repetition-maximum. It has also been indicated that the exercise-induced reduction in glycogen is, in part, responsible for the ensuing muscle weakness, decreased isokinetic force production and reduced isometric strength as the workout progresses. This concept suggests that muscle glycogen availability is a critical controllable variable for maintained optimal exercise performance.

A collection of scientific research has shown that the consumption of carbohydrates prior to or during an acute resistance-training bout can attenuate the decline in glycogen and preserve muscle function for the duration of a workout.

Studies investigating carbohydrate supplementation, before or during weight training to volitional failure, demonstrate:

  1. An increase number of repetitions per set
  2. An increased number of sets
  3. An increase in force production
  4. An increased total amount of work performed when volume is kept constant

In short, the benefit of intra-workout carbohydrate ingestion is not purely for endurance athletes. The preservation of glycogen stores plays a significant role in the delay of fatigue, especially in bouts of resistance training lasting at least an hour or more. The duration of exercise in the aforementioned studies ranged from 56 to 77 minutes, but as the duration of activity increases, there is a greater reliance on exogenous blood glucose, and the benefit of carbohydrate consumption improves significantly.

Not only is glucose needed by the muscles to perform anaerobic respiration required by high-intensity exercise, but the central nervous system also functions almost exclusively on blood glucose. Thus, as blood glucose declines as a result of high-intensity exercise, the level of perceived effort increases, along with the associated central fatigue. Central fatigue is that familiar inability to push through a demanding workout and is a major contributor to poorer performance over time. It’s likely that the improved stamina from carbohydrates may partially be the result of the direct effects on glucose availability on the brain.

Therefore, for athletes of all types, there is a benefit of preserving glycogen stores throughout a bout of exercise. However, in the absence of prior extreme carbohydrate loading, carbohydrate ingestion immediately prior and/or during exercise is necessary for optimal performance. Optimal performance in the weight room should then translate into optimal gains, especially those who are using high-volume resistance training protocols similar to those typically used in the hypertrophy phase of a periodized training program. The key is to select an appropriate carbohydrate source that doesn’t also interfere with fat loss.

Choosing An Appropriate Carbohydrate Source

There is at least one of two possible limitations in the supplement of carbohydrates for the purposes of exercise. The first of which is the rate of digestion and absorption, the second is its insulin response. To achieve an ergonomic benefit, from the start of exercise, blood glucose needs to already be enhanced. Slow and/or incompletely digesting carbohydrates such as complex starches are not ideal for fast bioavailable glucose. Gastric emptying (the time taken for food to transverse the stomach) is a key variable to look for. The osmolarity of a beverage is tightly correlated with gastric emptying time. Solutions with low osmolarity will clear the stomach the quickest and allow for the rapid onset of absorption from the intestines. Osmolarity is based on the number of molecules in solution. Considering an equivalent amount of carbohydrates, fewer and larger molecules will have lower osmolarity, and thus a faster gastric emptying rate, than would a greater number of smaller molecules.

The second important variable is glycemic index. Fast-acting simple sugars, or other high glycemic foods can be quick acting, but due to their simplistic structure, they are rapidly absorbed and inevitably cause a sudden increase in plasma glucose. The sudden glucose spike results in an overload of insulin secretion. Insulin is a great anabolic agent after exercise but is not ideal during exercise for a couple reasons.

  1. Insulin disposes glucose – The increase in plasma insulin leads to plasma glucose taken up into all tissues (including adipose tissue) at a faster rate and promotes hypoglycemia within a short time frame. This leads to a narrow window when the benefits of carbohydrate supplementation can be utilized.

  2. Insulin supports fat storage and inhibits fat oxidation – Insulin is known to enhance the transport of glucose and free fatty acids into adipose tissue and stimulate the synthesis of triglycerides in order to store fat rather than burn it. Instead it reduces fat oxidation directly by inhibiting the enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides for energy. Reducing fat oxidation effectively robs the muscles of additional energy for optimal performance. Additionally, this would only diminish any fat loss goals.

While, endurance exercise will counteract some of the increase in insulin, the rest-intervals of resistance training may not, and may possibly allow the effects of insulin to ruin the benefit of carbohydrate supplementation altogether. The best scenario is a carbohydrate source that is both fast acting in its ability to move past the stomach and then slow releasing so that it does not trigger an insulin overload.

Cluster Dextrin®

Also known as Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin, Cluster Dextrin® is a novel type of carbohydrate formulated specifically to optimize exercise performance through several distinct features.

1. Fast Gastric Emptying

As previously mentioned, a beverage with larger and fewer molecules results in low osmolarity and is correlated with high rates of gastric emptying. Enzymatically created from amylopectin, Cluster Dextrin® has a uniformly high molecular weight structure. This means that each molecule is roughly the same size and they are all large in size and thus contributing very low osmotic pressures in solution. Comparatively, the same concentration of other sources of carbohydrate sources such as glucose, maltose, sucrose and maltodextrin contribute 37x, 33x, 35x, and 13x the osmotic pressure than Cluster Dextrin® does, respectively. This allows Cluster Dextrin® to have the fastest gastric emptying rates, even when combined with other nutrients such as amino acids and electrolytes in solution. In a study comparing gastric emptying times, a Cluster Dexrtrin® based sports drink cleared the stomach in 17 minutes, 22% faster than a maltodextrin based sports drink and 57% faster than a glucose solution each with the same amount of carbohydrates.


2. Slow Digestion and Release

In contrast to simple sugars that gets immediately absorbed into the blood stream all at once, Cluster Dextrin® is first slowly degraded into glucose units and gradually released into the blood stream. The slow degradation process is roughly based on the complexity of the Cluster Dextrin® molecular structure, requiring multiple different enzymes breaking different bonds for its full digestion. Thus, while Cluster Dextrin® is the fastest available source of carbohydrate, the combination with its slow release from the intestine allows for quick blood glucose availability yet a prolonged action that does not cause any sudden rise in blood sugar nor an insulin overload. This unique combination allows for a greater sustained blood glucose availability to sustain high-intensity muscle performance.


3. Enhanced Exercise Performance

To demonstrate the ability of Cluster Dextrin® to deliver bioavailable energy and enhance performance, a study was conducted in sprint swimmers during a spring interval training session. In a final bout, swimmers swam at 90% VO2 max until volitional failure. Swimmers were given either Cluster Dextrin®, an equivalent amount of glucose, or water as a control prior to training. The sprint swimmers who ingested Cluster Dextrin® were able to swim 75% longer than the group who ingested a glucose solution and 63% longer than the group who only ingested water.


A separate experiment was conducted analyzing the rating of perceived exertion during exercise with Cluster Dextrin® compared to maltodextrin. This study concluded that even at a dose as small as 15g of Cluster Dextrin® is sufficient to significantly attenuate the perception of exertion that progresses throughout a workout.


Other products may have some scientific data, but actual exercise performance claims verified by clinical studies such as with Cluster Dextrin® is relatively rare in this industry.


The use of a Cluster Dextrin® based sports drink before or during exercise is the new optimal method that has been clinically shown to improve performance, delay the onset of fatigue and reduce the perceived exertion from exercise.

The unique and consistent molecular structure is what makes it so formidable compared to other carbohydrate sources. It’s high solubility, stability, gastric emptying time, and prolonged release is ideal, not just for endurance exercise, but also is an ergonomic aid for short bouts of high-intensity exercises, resistance training, or high volume hypertrophy training as well. Benefits can be experienced when consumed shortly before and/or during exercise.

Due to its long-lasting kinetics, Cluster Dextrin® can be utilized for a plethora of other activities such as long sporting events or stamina-requiring tournaments. Because it doesn’t overload the body with insulin, fat metabolism is still maintained so you don’t have to sacrifice fat loss for elite performance. Cluster Dextrin® is a great way to get energy in during morning workouts before breakfast or during late night workouts when caffeine consumption would be a burden on the evening.

Cluster Dextrin® truly is the best of both worlds in that it can improve performance through enhanced carbohydrate oxidation, but at the same time does not interfere with fat oxidation.

This is why Cluster Dextrin® was included in the new formula of AminoFast™, a truly one-of-a-kind intra-workout supplement like no other.

AminoFast™ contains healthy, fast-acting fuel to get you through any gueling or long duration activity, in addition to an ample supply of BCAAs to attenuate muscle breakdown during exercise.

Find out more about AminoFast™ on the next page:
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