Serious bodybuilders and athletes are always looking for improvements in their performance and size. Making sure that they are getting the optimal level of nutrients following a workout is key for bodybuilders to build as much lean muscle mass as possible. Bodybuilders in particular bit also other serious athletes spend a lot of time looking for the best carbohydrate they can consume with a post workout meal.
Waxy maize is a very popular dietary supplement among bodybuilders. Advocates suggest that it can help sustain energy, increase endurance and improve recovery time better than other types of carb. Not everyone is so convinced by the claims and many question whether waxy maize is worth the expense. This article will take a closer look at the purported benefits and see if they hold up under scientific scrutiny.
What is Waxy Maize?
Waxy maize, so-called because it resembles wax under a microscope, is a complex carbohydrate derived from cornstarch. The corn which originated in China is considered superior to many other varieties of corn because it contains high levels of a polysaccharide called amylopectin.
Amylopectin has a molecular weight some 100 times higher than other types of carbohydrate. As well as its higher molecular weight, amylopectin gets absorbed more slowly by the body. These carbs get converted by the body into glycogen which the muscles use for energy. Because of this, waxy maize helps restore the body’s glycogen levels, boosts energy and endurance and improves the time needed to recover.
Benefits of Waxy Maize
There is no doubt that waxy maize has earned a reputation among bodybuilders and athletes for its ability to improve performance. The following are the main reasons put forward for its use…
1) Sustained Levels of Energy
According to proponents, consuming waxy maize can help boost energy levels in athletes regardless of how serious an athlete you are. It is so effective because of high amylopectin content. Amylopctin is digested more slowly than many other types of carb but while its digestion is slow, it is also easy and effective.
Amylopectin is made up of long chain monosaccharides kept together by glycosidic bonds. Because of this structural complexity, it takes longer for amylopectin to break down in the body to form glucose. This slow process means that your body is supplied with more sustainable energy for a much longer time than the quick boost of energy you get from consuming simple carbs and sugars.
2) Improved Endurance
As well as providing longer lasting energy, carbohydrates that digest more slowly also help boost an athlete’s endurance level helping them workout longer and more effectively. Carbohydrates that digest more quickly are used by your body more rapidly causing performance levels to drop during your workout.
On the other hand low glycemic index food are used up by the body far more slowly which helps an athlete workout for longer before getting fatigued.
Studies have been done on endurance athletes including marathon runners, road cyclists and triathletes to determine the effects of waxy maize on endurance. There is some evidence that supplementing with waxy maize is more effective than the carbs found in energy drinks often consumed by athletes. If true, this would make waxy maize the ideal supplement for endurance athletes who need to sustain their performance for long periods of time.
Moreover, waxy maize can increase the speed at which the body breaks down its fat stores. This is also a significant factor that would benefit an endurance because after using its glycogen stores, the body will turn to its fat to help fuel the exercise. When fat is broken down more easily, the athlete can continue to train for a longer period despite being low on glycogen.
3) Boost your Recovery Time
According to advocates, using your waxy maize following a workout helps to speed up your recovery rate meaning you can get back into the action faster and see even greater gains.
After any intense workout the body needs carbs and protein to repair your tired or injured muscles. When the body does not recover fully, you risk many potential problems like fatigue, dehydration and difficulties with focus and concentration. Using waxy maize after a strenuous workout is a great way to ensure you avoid these problems.
When you use waxy maize to complement a protein drink, you get even more benefits. The waxy maize combines well with the protein to enhance protein synthesis. By quickly assimilating the amino acids from your protein drink, it helps your body to recover fast, making it stronger and preparing you for the next workout.
Not only can waxy maize help you to recover faster after a workout but it can also help give you more energy and pump the body up during a workout. Bodybuilders in particular have reported that their muscles felt much fuller after supplementing with waxy maize.
4) Restores Glycogen Levels in the Body
Consuming waxy maize can help restore glycogen levels more quickly. According to the marketing, waxy maize gets digested easily in the body helping to raise your body’s glycogen levels more effectively. Proponents claim that waxy maize can restore glycogen some 70% faster than other types of carbohydrate. They also claim that its absorption rate is around 80% better than other forms of carb.
If it is true that waxy maize is better absorbed; and there is plenty of disagreement here; then it can help provide the muscles with the energy needed to take on the next intensive workout.
What Does Science Say?
So, if the marketing information is correct, waxy maize certainly seems like an essential supplement for athletes and body builders in particular. Proponents claim it can help to increase endurance, boost energy, restore your glycogen levels and speed up your recovery time. But is it really worth the expense and what exactly does science have to say about its benefits?
Unfortunately, when it comes to the benefits of waxy maize, we do not have many scientific studies to go on. Many people accept the claims of the producers as fact without delving any deeper.
The few studies done to date have not produced the positive results that would justify the expense of supplementing with waxy maize starch.
Here is a summary of the research done to date:
One study examined the effect of waxy maize to restore glycogen in trained cyclists and compared it to dextrose and slow starch. They found that waxy maize was more effective than slow starch but yielded performance results similar to dextrose. (1)
More recently, a study compared the effects of waxy maize to slow starch, maltodextrin and sucrose or ordinary table sugar. The results seemed to contradict the manufacturer’s claims of rapid absorption. In this study, the glycemic response from waxy maize was even slower than sucrose. This prompted the researchers to refer to is as a low glycemic index treatment similar to slow starch. (2)
Other studies have revealed that waxy maize was no more effective with regard to absorption rates and glycemic response than white bread. (3)
Waxy maize continues to be a popular supplement for bodybuilders and strength trainers but it is difficult to recommend it based solely on the research done so far. Considering the expense of waxy maize when compared with other types of fast carbs, the research so far suggest you may be better off saving your money.