Liquid carbohydrates to improve performance: how do they work?

Carbohydrate-containing beverages are becoming more common in endurance training. Discover how they are composed and how effective they are.

Last update: 23 February, 2022

Carbohydrates are one of the most important energy sources for the body. It is essential that athletes and anyone who performs physical activity incorporate them into their diet, respecting the necessary levels. Liquid carbohydrates appear as a good alternative when thinking about extensive training and performance enhancement.

There are several types of carbohydrates. Some are faster absorbing and some are slower absorbing.

It is common for meal plans aimed at weight loss to tend to reduce their consumption, especially at night. However, it is an essential energy engine for athletes.

With liquid carbohydrates, their incorporation can be easier. In addition, they have the function of hydrating the body, since they contain minerals.

What are liquid carbohydrates about?

Carbohydrates are known as one of the pillars of food. It is a basic macronutrient, along with fat and protein. It is possible to consume them through everyday foods, such as rice, legumes, pasta and some fruits and vegetables.

Being one of the main energy sources, it is not advisable for athletes to reduce their intake. People who perform physical activity need a recomposition of the calories spent during exercise.

In instances of strenuous training or competition, the body requires the constant addition of nutrients that produce energy. Some of these sports can be multi-kilometer marathons, cycling circuits, athletics or any resistance training.

In addition to the foods already mentioned, others such as energy bars aim to provide that contribution of carbohydrates to active athletes. However, during exercise your digestion can become complexsince the absorption becomes slower.

Liquid carbohydrates have the advantage of being drinkable, making them much more adaptable to training periods. In addition, they are composed of other essential vitamins and minerals for energy recovery.

Endurance sports, which exceed one hour of activity, force the body to use carbohydrates to sustain the pace.

How are liquid carbohydrates presented?

Usually, they are powdered supplements that are mixed with water to acquire their liquid form and become drinkable. There are options with different flavors.

In this way, liquid carbohydrates do double duty. On the one hand they contribute in the nutritional plane. On the other, in hydration. Drinking water is another transcendental aspect when practicing physical activity.

In relation to sport, studies such as that of the American College of Sports Medicine suggest that carbohydrate intake 3 to 4 hours before exercise improves performance. In addition, a consumption of 20 grams of carbohydrates for each hour of training helps to stabilize glucose levels.

Components of liquid carbohydrates and why they improve performance

Carbohydrate drinks are becoming more and more common in athletes who carry out extensive activities. This is due, in addition to the nutrients they incorporate, to their hydration capacity. Liquid carbohydrates include components thought to improve physical performance.


It is a carbohydrate that has the function of helping the muscles. It is quickly absorbed and easy to digest. It is found in foods such as potatoes, wheat, rice and legumes.


This is a low glycemic index sugar substitute. Provides the energy benefits of fructose, but with a simpler digestion.

Vitamins C and B1

Both are antioxidants that act in the transformation of carbohydrates into energy. Important in the repair of tendons, blood vessels and ligaments.


The fibers have the effect of satiating the body, since they limit the absorption of other compounds. Therefore, contribute to the control or reduction of body weight.


These are minerals needed to maintain hydration. They act in muscle relaxation and prevent cramps. They are essential for transporting nutrients to cells.

Hydration is necessary during and after exercise to replenish what has been lost.

The importance of water

Water consumption is decisive for cell function. It is recommended to drink between 2 and 3 liters of water per day. That amount increases based on how many hours a day you spend exercising, combined with your body weight.

Liquid carbohydrates have the advantage of containing electrolytes. These minerals provide energy to the muscles and improve their functioning, which is why they are very important for practicing sports.

Among the electrolytes present in liquid carbohydrates we have the following:

  • Potassium: contributes to muscle contraction, heart rate and the nervous system.
  • Calcium: fundamental importance in the maintenance of teeth and bones.
  • Sodium: its consumption during physical activity stimulates thirst and fluid retention.
  • Magnesium: improves performance through increased agility. The action of magnesium reduces the feeling of fatigue.

Liquid carbohydrates: a good option for training

Carbohydrate consumption during exercise It is recommended for long routines. In general, the parameter is based on exceeding 60 minutes. After an hour, the body needs to replenish macronutrients.

Therefore, liquid carbohydrates appear as a viable option. However, its intake should not be confused with that made through food. Carbohydrate drinks never have to replace a balanced and healthy diet.

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