Carbohydrate is perceived as a four-letter word in certain circles of the health and fitness cosmos. But, the truth is that when you eat the right types and amounts of carbohydrates, you’ll perform better, recover faster, and experience greater gains.
The reason for this is that carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy during intense exercise, such as resistance training, sprinting, CrossFit, etc.
Today, we highlight 5 of our favorite clean carbohydrates for greater performance and recovery.
Top 5 Clean Carbohydrates for Performance & Recovery
Oatmeal has been and continues to be a staple food for athletes of all kinds. It’s rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and beta-glucans (which promotes a favorable glycemic response) as well as B-vitamins and essential minerals.
Due to their steady release of energy, oats make a perfect breakfast or pre-workout meal to top off glycogen stores and power you through your workout.
What’s more, oats can be flavored a seemingly infinite number of ways so that they never get old. One of our favorite oatmeal combinations is 1 cup of cooked oats, 1 scoop ISOLIT, an ounce of walnuts, and a serving of frozen blueberries.
Mix it all together and voila! You have the perfect muscle-building breakfast that will keep you energized for hours to come.
Rice is a staple source of clean carbohydrates for millions of people around the world, athletes and non-athletes alike.
It’s easy on the stomach and efficiently broken down and utilized by the body, making it an ideal carb source for individuals who suffer GI distress, bloating, etc. from other foods -- breads, pastas, etc.
Like oatmeal, rice is extremely affordable, making it a great food for those looking to bulk on a budget. Rice comes in a number of varieties, but we’re partial to jasmine rice. It makes the perfect post-workout carb source for a meal including lean protein and veggies!
Bananas offer a fantastic on-to-go option for those looking to fill up on some healthy carbs before or after training. FYI, the average medium banana supplies 31 grams of high-quality carbohydrates.
Bananas are also easily digested and high in a number of essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
Potassium is particularly important as it helps regulate muscle function and cardiac function. It also supports healthy blood pressure, which promotes heart health.
Bananas can also be frozen and then added to protein smoothies where they lend a bit of sweetness as well as help create a thick, milkshake-type texture.
One of our favorite banana-infused smoothie recipes is:
- 1 frozen banana cut into chunks
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon nut butter
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (such as Chocolate Milk or Chocolate PB ISOLIT)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (optional)
To turn this into a real mass-gaining shake, toss in a ½ cup of uncooked old-fashioned (rolled) oats and then blend!
The term “superfood” gets tossed around a lot these days, and while there’s no textbook definition of what makes a food “super”, it generally means that a food is packed with micronutrients -- vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and other berries easily qualify as superfoods, given the fact that they’re chock full of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that promote health and performance in a variety of ways.
Berries also offer a lower carb count than bananas per serving, which may be beneficial for those carb-sensitive lifters out there. Moreover, berries are also high in water and fiber, which can help fill you up, without taking a huge chunk out of your daily calories.
Some of our favorite ways to incorporate berries into our daily meal plan is to mix them into a bowl of proats, add them into smoothies, or tossed into a giant bowl of greek yogurt mixed with a scoop of ISOLIT.
When you’re pressed for time and don’t have the time for a full meal, or looking for some quick energy to sustain you through a rigorous workout, eating a bowl of oats or rice really isn’t practical (or enticing).
In times like this, it’s helpful to have a carbohydrate supplement that is rapidly digested, sustains energy levels, and doesn’t leave you wanting to run to the bathroom like other carb sources such as maltodextrin or waxy maize.
Intracell is our premium-quality intra workout supplement containing an advanced carbohydrate complex containing FOUR primetime performance carbohydrates in
- Cluster Dextrin®
Together, these four clean carbohydrate sources provide readily accessible energy for the mind and muscles to support greater mental and physical performance.
Every serving of Intracell also supplies a full-spectrum of essential amino acids to combat protein breakdown and support muscle recovery. And, we’ve also included valuable electrolytes and ergogenics to help you crush your workouts no matter how intense they are!
- D'Elia L, Barba G, Cappuccio FP, Strazzullo P. Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Mar 8;57(10):1210-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.09.070. PMID: 21371638.