Fast-digesting carbs are effective after a workout, to help replenish your muscles' depleted glycogen stores, or if you need a quick boost of energy but don't have time for a meal. Also known as high glycemic index carbs, fast-digesting carbs come in several forms, which include natural, whole foods, and processed or packaged foods. The glycemic index of a food indicates how quickly it increases your blood sugar levels after you eat it. High glycemic index (GI) foods tend to spike your blood sugar very quickly, which is why they give you such an energy boost.
Go With the Grain
White bread and white rice are both good sources of fast-digesting carbs. While their whole-grain counterparts have much lower GI profiles, these two options will give you a quick boost of energy right away. Half a cup of steamed white rice has 103 calories and 22 grams of carbohydrate. One gram of carbohydrate contains four calories, so 88 of those calories come from the carb content of the rice. One slice of white bread has 74 calories and 14 grams of carbs, meaning that 56 of those calories come from the carb count.
Eat Your Veggies
Fruit and certain type of vegetables contain fast-digesting carbs. Among the best high glycemic index fruits are bananas, grapes, watermelon, dates and peaches. Steer clear of apples, grapefruit, pear and prunes when you are looking for a quick energy fix, as these are all slow-release carbs. High glycemic index vegetables include green peas, parsnips, white potato, sweet potato and yams.
Chow Down on Cereal
Many cereals contain fast-digesting carbs, and these are a convenient and quick food source. Bran flakes, corn flakes, instant oatmeal and puffed rice will all give you a quick energy bump, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you add fruit juice or milk to your cereal, or if you drink it on the side, you'll get even more carbs into your meal. Other breakfast-style foods with high GI levels are bagels, rice cakes and saltine crackers.
Consume Snacks Sparingly
Snack foods are notoriously high in fast-digesting carbs. Excess carbohydrates that are consumed, but not used for energy, are stored as fat. This is one reason why snack foods contribute so much to heavy waistlines. You should use these types of foods sparingly. Even though they are a quick, easy source of high-GI carbs, they don't have much in the way of fiber or other nutrients. Candy, chocolate, corn and potato chips, biscuits and cakes, energy bars, desserts like ice cream and frozen yogurt, and tapioca or rice puddings are very high in fast-digesting carbs.
Fast Acting Carbohydrate Supplement
Fast-digesting carbs should be consumed immediately after a workout to help replenish stored energy in muscles. Supplements are a convenient way to replenish your carbs on the go. According to Muscle and Strength, supplements such as sports drinks and gels provide high glycemic carbohydrates that digest faster than many high carbohydrate foods.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Glycemix Index and Glycemic Load For 100+ Foods
- American Diabetes Association: Glycemic Index and Diabetes
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: International Table of Glycemic Index And Glycemic Load Values
- City of Glendale: Nutrition for Athletes
- SpringerPlus: Effects of a Pre-and Post-Workout Protein-Carbohydrate Supplement in Trained Crossfit Individuals
- Muscle and Strength: Carbohydrate Supplements: Uses For Muscle Growth, Recovery & Performance