When it comes to energy production in the body there is no denying that carbohydrates are king of all the macronutrients.
Furthermore, the type of carbs you eat, the amounts, and when you shove them in your mouth can make or break your endurance performance during racing and training.
In this article we will do a quick breakdown of carbs in general and introduce to you a patented carbohydrate known as KarboLyn® that is making waves in endurance sports
Before we talk about KarboLyn® we first need to understand how carbohydrates work when you eat them and what effects it has on your body.
When you eat carbohydrates from food or supplements like gels, your body breaks it down into the simple sugar glucose. The glucose is absorbed in the bloodstream which causes your pancreas to release the hormone insulin.
Insulin helps move the glucose into the cells where it enters the Krebs cycle and is turned into ATP (energy).
The Krebs cycle has a tremendous capacity to produce energy when fueled by carbohydrates compared to fats and proteins that must undergo additional steps to be turned into ATP.
Therefore, carbs are the most efficient, fastest burning source of energy to rapidly fuel working muscle during both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
The type of carbohydrate you eat effects how fast blood glucose rises and can be turned into ATP. In some instances, you want that rise to be quicker and other times more prolonged.
For example, after exercising you want to consume carbs that are quick digesting to replenish muscle glycogen while during endurance exercise lasting 2+ hours you may want to consume carbs that provide more prolonged energy.
What we are talking about here are simple carbs (sugars) vs. more complex carbs (starches).
Simple sugar is already in the form needed by the body for metabolism, so it does not need to be digested – it only needs to be absorbed.
On the other hand, starch does require digestion, as it must be broken down into sugar to be absorbed, oxidized, and/or stored for later.
As may be readily apparent, digesting and absorbing the starch takes longer than simply absorbing sugar, so this affects the rate of digestion/absorption and, therefore, blood sugar and the magnitude of available energy.
Starches may also be “branched” to accelerate breakdown, such as with glycogen or highly-branched cyclic dextrin.
We have already touched on this, but athletes need carbs because they are the most efficient burning source of energy.
Without a doubt they are the MOST IMPORTANT macronutrient for athletic performance.
They should make up 50-60% of an athlete’s daily caloric requirements.
Also, carbohydrates are THE ONLY source of energy that can be used during anaerobic glycolysis…think interval sessions or a hard race where you are operating above 80% maximum heart rate. During those intense situations, without carbs you fall flat on your face or hit the dreaded wall.
It cannot be stressed enough that to perform your best, especially during prolonged or intense exercise, that blood glucose needs to be maintained via carbohydrate consumption to perform your best.
Fat and protein are great for other things, but energy production is not one of them. Sorry all you keto people. These two macros (especially fat) are only useful when the exercise intensity is low, and carbohydrate (glucose/glycogen) levels are low, but they still cannot power anaerobic glycolysis.
I am only going to dedicate a few sentences to this topic, and it goes like this.
Low carb diets are a terrible idea for athletes.
Especially endurance athletes. Hundred of studies exist showing the ill effects low carb diets can have on performance. Thousands of studies exist demonstrating the beneficial effects of high carb diets
The following table outlines general recommendations for carbohydrate consumption before, during, and after exercise. However, athletes may need to experiment with different protocols (timing, types, & amounts) to produce individual optimal performance.
General carbohydrate intake
Carbohydrate 3-4 hours before exercise
Carbohydrate 30-60 minutes before exercise
Carbohydrate immediately before exercise
Carbohydrate During Exercise
Carbohydrate after exercise
Most athletes know carb loading is a technique used to enhance muscle glycogen stores before long-term aerobic endurance exercise.
The most effective regimen is three days of a high carb diet in conjunction with tapering exercise the week before competition and complete rest the day before the event. 600 grams of carbohydrate per day or 8 to 10 grams per kilogram body weight should increase muscle glycogen stores 20-40% above normal.
What most people DON’T know is that men and women need to carb load differently due to the hormone estradiol. While the above-mentioned technique works for men, women should eat 10-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight daily in the three days leading up to a competition.
We have already briefly talked about a few of the different types of carbs. Let us take a more in depth look at each.
And finally, we come to the carbohydrate KarboLyn®, the main topic of this article. We will take an in-depth look at this super carb and explain why it is superior to most other supplemental carb sources.
KarboLyn® is a type of complex carbohydrate known as a homopolysaccharide. Homopolysaccharides, in geek speak, are polysaccharides composed of a single type of sugar monomer. Say what?
More simply put, KarboLyn® is made of a bunch of macromolecules that are bonded/branched together that allows it to pass through the stomach very quickly. It also acts like a “pump” by pulling water and other nutrients along with it.
Essentially KarboLyn® represent the best of both worlds, a complex carb that digests and absorbs just as fast as a simple sugar without a subsequent crash.
KarboLyn® is made by the company All American Pharmaceuticals based out of Billings, Montana and was created by the renowned supplement expert Dr. Jeff Golini.
Work on KarboLyn® began in 1999 and it was released to the market in 2006. It now can be found in many carbohydrate-based products and sports drinks.
Due to its unique properties of acting like both a simple and complex carb, KarboLyn® can be used for a variety of applications in endurance sports such as:
No other carb source has a wide range of beneficial uses.
Per All American Pharmaceuticals, “KarboLyn®® is produced using a newly developed "Enzymatic Milling Process". The food source to produce the KarboLyn®® is corn, potato & rice.
The finished product is a modified molecular mass polysaccharide that is absorbed very quickly without any side effects, stomach bloating or discomfort plus it mixes instantly.
The biggest difference between KarboLyn® and other carbohydrate sources is its ability to move through the stomach very quickly.
Compared to simple sugars like dextrose, it is moves 18.21% faster through the gut.
It also has a higher solution osmolality than other carb sources on the market. This is due to KarboLyn® being completely free of simple sugars.
Now on to the information you REALLY want to know. How can KarboLyn® enhance your athletic performance? Let us briefly look at each research-based claim before digging into the research.
Now let us see if the research supports the claims the creators of Karbolyn make.
This 2009 study conducted by Dr. Jeff Golini investigated the blood glucose response of Karbolyn vs. glucose in pre-determined amounts. He wanted to see how quickly Karbolyn absorbed and stayed in the blood versus glucose.
Two groups of subjects were chosen to ingest both KarboLyn® and Glucose. The first group was served KarboLyn® at 75 grams and the second group was served Glucose at 75 grams.
Blood was drawn at several intervals to determine how quickly each was absorbed and what the sustain energy value would be. Test were performed on an empty stomach after 24 hours of fasting and administered with 21 ounces of water.
The results are presented below:
Karbolyn® was absorbed 18.21% quicker than glucose and had a sustain energy response of 1 hour over glucose, with glucose peaking at 30 minutes and then dropping dramatically giving subjects sugar low after 30 minutes.
KarboLyn® sustain energy release power kept the subjects stable and even up to 120 minutes. KarboLyn®, in this study, proved to be absorbed quicker than glucose and maintained a positive energy flow for 2 hours.
This would make KarboLyn® superior to glucose for an instant burst of energy along with sustain energy that would endure a workout, ride or athletic evert. Plus, there was no sugar crash after 30 minutes as what appeared with glucose subjects.
The study was performed to assess the short-term benefits and side effects of KarboLyn in human beings when administered an oral dose at prescribe amounts compared to other waxy starch and carb products.
Two Bodybuilders were chosen for the study. Their workouts consisted of heavy training 5 days per week with cardio three days per week No changes were made to their training schedule or diet.
Week 1 with leading waxy starch:
Week 2 with maltodextrin:
Week 3 with KarboLyn x 50 grams:
Effectiveness: Energy levels were extremely high for about 1 hour before dying off. Strength was increased along with endurance and stamina. Athletes were able to do more in the 1-hour workout then they could in Week 1 & 2. But after 1 hour they were out of gas and cardio to follow was difficult.
Side Effects: No side effects
Week 4 with KarboLyn x 100 grams:
Effectiveness: Energy levels were remarkably high for about 2 hours before dying off. Strength was increased along with endurance and stamina. Athletes were able to do more than week 3. Enough energy was left over to do cardio at a much greater intensity than could be done during week 1-3.
Side Effects: No side effects
KarboLyn showed to increase endurance, strength, and stamina at levels of 50 grams for 1 hour and at 100 grams for 2 hours over waxy starch and maltodextrin.
Not much noticeable changes in energy were noticed in the waxy starch while maltodextrin seemed to work for about 15 minutes before dying off.
KarboLyn is a highly effective way of elevating energy levels for 1-2 hours for bodybuilders.
This would also prove to be effective for endurance athletes by the fact that after weight training these athletes had enough energy to do cardio at a high intensity for 30-60 minutes.
KarboLyn did not upset the stomach and showed no side effects.
This clinical study sought to document whether or not KarboLyn® has a positive and sustainable impact on blood sugar level during light aerobic activity compared to a simple glucose solution along with evaluating if KarboLyn® was absorbed as quick as a simple sugar.
In addition, the study investigated the effect KarboLyn® has on pre-diabetic individuals – whether or not their physiology will show the same glucose utilization curve during sustained, light aerobic exercise.
A total of 36 – adults, ages 21 or older, of either gender, were recruited from the Missoula Montana area. All volunteers fulfilled the entrance requirements for their group: ‘Normal’ and ‘Pre-diabetic’.
Everyone was randomized to receive either 50 grams of KarboLyn® or an equal gram amount of a sugar drink. Blood was drawn before and during the two-hour study, according to the protocol.
Volunteers were on a treadmill any time their blood was not being drawn.
KarboLyn® elevated the blood glucose of ‘Normal’ volunteers to a slightly greater extent than the simple glucose drink did at: 15-minute, 30 minute, and 45-minute marks.
Approximately 60 minutes after ingestion, and certainly before 75 minutes for all participants, the KarboLyn® blood sugar spike had returned to normal, and in some cases, below the starting value.
Blood sugar averages remained between 8 to 14 mg/dl lower than when the participant began.
The glucose group showed a spike as well, at the same times that the KarboLyn® did. Between ‘0’ time and 45 minutes, the KarboLyn® spikes were all slightly higher at their respective times.
At the 60- and 75-minute marks, the glucose solution gave slightly higher peeks (6 mg/dl and 5 mg/dl, respectively) than the KarboLyn® did.
The normal volunteers exhibited a ‘tighter’ glucose control on ‘spiking’, with most of the reading remaining at, or near, the 100-110 mg/dl mark. Blood glucose usually quickly dipped below 100 mg/dl before the 45-minute mark.
Instead of simply ‘spiking’ their blood glucose level, and fostering a generally high blood glucose level throughout the study, the KarboLyn® pre-diabetic group exhibited a very tight ‘spike’ in a bell curve fashion, with almost everyone dropping below 100 mg/dl by the 60 min mark.
Before 75 minutes, blood glucoses were below 96 mg/dl. The average blood glucose reading after 75 min – until 120 min (which is the end of the study) was: 81 mg/dl, 78 mg/dl, 79 mg/dl, respectively.
This represents a blood glucose that is between 9 – 12 mg/dl lower than their starting glucose levels for KarboLyn® group. This action was unexpected and has prompted further investigation into the components of KarboLyn® and their potential impact on the pre-diabetic physiology.
Based on the data so far, KarboLyn appears to get into the blood stream at least as fast as simple glucose, causing a slightly higher ‘spike’ than that produced by glucose, in normal volunteers, during the first 15 – 45 minute, and lasts between 60 – 75 minutes. Since glucose levels were already spiked at 15 minutes, this suggests that Karbolyn® was in the blood stream in about 6-7 minutes. Simple sugar causes a corresponding spike in normal individuals, but to a slightly lesser degree during the same time frame. By 75 minutes, both the KarboLyn and the simple glucose are exhausted during light aerobic exercise.
With KarboLyn, the pre-diabetics behaved as if they were ‘Normal’ volunteers. The blood glucose pattern produced was a tight bell-shape curve, ending with all blood glucose levels below the 100 mg/dl mark by 60 minutes. After this point, the line virtually flattened out and remained between 81 mg/dl to 78 mg/dl for the rest of the two-hour test. This was unexpected. With the simple glucose placebo, the blood sugars spiked higher and remained abnormally high longer, before dipping below 100 mg/dl. There was no tight bell curve, rather a ‘peak’ with several ‘slopes’, indicating a poorer glucose control response. Eventually the placebo pre-diabetics did fall into the average 80 mg/dl to 86 mg/dl range by the end of the study.
No known side effects have been documented from individuals using Karbolyn.
About the Author:
Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder of EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California. Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.