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What is amylopectin?

Amylopectin is part of the structure of starch, a heteropolysaccharide, where one can also find another polymer: amylase. Starch is composed of approximately 80% amylopectin.

Amylopectin hydrate carbohydrate complex

Amylopectin belongs to the complex carbohydrates group, a designation given when there is more than two glucose polymers present. Remember that glucose is a monosaccharide, which is the basic unit the body uses to absorb the carbohydrate structures that we consume. If there is a polysaccharide structure present, such as amylopectin, it is necessary to break the molecular structure down to its basic unit (glucose).

Amylopectin possesses certain peculiarities when it is broken down and absorbed by the body, at which point its special health benefits manifest themselves.

Amylopectin provides quick and easily absorbed energy.

Characteristics of amylopectin

The two features that stand out when comparing it to other sources of carbohydrates are:

  • High molecular weight
  • Low osmolarity

The first item is a measure of the rate of degradation of a molecular structure upon entering our bodies. The higher the rate the lower the degradation. Therefore, amylopectin will pass through the intestine virtually complete, where it will be absorbed. Its low osmolarity indicates that it will not absorb water or stomach fluids, lessening the occurrence of problems such as cramps. Its passage through the stomach will also take place very quickly, without producing any kind of upset.

Amylopectin and glycaemic Index

Glycaemic index indicates how insulin levels rise relative to the type of carbohydrate. Amylopectin, despite possessing a high IG, will not breakdown in the same way as other elements such as simple sugars do. This is another reason why its consumption is beneficial for athletes, since glucose will be transferred steadily into the bloodstream.

What are the types of amylopectin?

Amylopectin is known as "waxy maize" in the field of sports supplementation, consisting primarily of sources of carbohydrates that can be found in:

  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Potato

Glycogen, which is stored in the liver (hepatic glycogen) and within the muscles (muscle glycogen), is similar to amylopectin in terms of molecular structure. We also know that a greater proportion of starch consists of amylopectin, which is in fact the vegetable equivalent of glycogen. However there is also potato amylopectin.

What are the effects of amylopectin?

  • Improves sports performance
  • Replenishes the energy spent during exercise or during a prior "loading” phase.

The main purpose for consuming amylopectin would be for its efficient loading of muscle glycogen, or the replacement of spent energy from the glucose substrate after physical activity. It can also be used as a pre-workout energy supplement used to help attain maximum performance.

Amylopectin and sports performance

When it comes to enhancing athletic performance, amylopectin is mostly involved with the following activities:

  • Use of glycogen (high intensity)
  • Prolonged duration

Athletes who do high-intensity interval activity (HIIT training) or weight training can also benefit from this product.

Examples of such activities or sports are: athletics, CrossFit, team sports (football, basketball), or individual sports (rowing, tennis). As you know the athlete is subject to heavy workloads in all of these, whereby glycolisis will take place (predominantly anaerobic exercise). This is a metabolic pathway that obtains high output performance power from the glucose stored in the corresponding glycogen deposits and maintains the level of demand and intensity moment to moment.

It can occur that carbohydrate deposits are limited and in such a cases the individual has a roughly two-hour reserve for operating at maximum capacity. However, on detecting the next energy depletion, the body will respond to the worsening performance, "forcing us" to cease the activity.

One can understand the importance of providing an adequate supply in order to successfully complete the event we are participating in and to be able to maintain our physical capabilities and performance.

Replenishes energy after exercise

Depending on certain factors such as: the type of activity, our physical condition, the state of our energy deposits and the duration and intensity of the activity in question, we may experience a depletion of energy reserves.This occurs not only due to the exhaustion of muscular glycogen, but also because of liver activity. If the responses are not optimum, it is probable that the performances in the subsequent sessions will not measure up to expectations.

We are referring to the fact that based on the aforementioned factors one can delay energy deposit replacement times from 24 to 48 hours.

Amylopectin and carbohydrate loading

The strategy of pre-competition "carbohydrate loading" has been used by the majority of athletes leading up to a competitive event and it is known to obtain remarkable results.
This protocol attempts to bring about a "super-compensation" and consists of two parts:

  1. In the days leading up to the competition, the intake of carbohydrates is reduced to almost 0 to create a maximum depletion of reserves.
  2. Carbohydrate loading. Depending on the demand level required by the event, as well as experience in previous loadings, this will be done around 2-4 days prior, increasing the carbohydrate consumption by to up to 80% of the total calories in the athlete's diet.

We are seeking to increase glycogen stores above the levels normally used by the athlete.

The role of amylopectin is to help input more energy and to meet the specified requirements during the last carbohydrate load prior to the competition. Athletes will not suffer any upset stomach thanks to amylopectin’s special properties, which makes this an excellent resource to keep in mind.

For carbohydrate loading periods we can take amylopectin with different foods during the day, as well as before, during and/or after training.

This technique, which generally has more relevance to performance-based sports, is also used by bodybuilders, since it helps produce some of the desired aesthetic effects prior to competitions.

Amylopectin also helps with carb loading for bodybuilding competitions.

When and how to take amylopectin?

Amylopectin is categorised as a pre-training supplement, which are those taken before, during and/or just after sports sessions.

The unique properties of amylopectin make it ideal as a supplement:

  • Before starting physical activity (from 30 to 45 min before): so as to partially fill up muscle glycogen deposits, optimising the subsequent response during exercise. The amount of recommended amylopectin would be around 25 - 50 g.
  • During physical exercise: allows the replenishment of energy that we use up and obtains greater responses in terms of physical performance, almost instantly. We can estimate a glycogen depletion of around 2 - 3 g per minute in trained athletes. One can therefore take amylopectin training drinks at the rate of 25 - 50 g every 30 minutes during high-intensity activity.
  • After exercise: we should take advantage of the maximum insulin sensitivity and the consequent glycogen re-synthesis while it is most optimal. The recommended quantity of amylopectin is around 50 - 100 g.

What does amylopectin combine well with?

Amylopectin can be combined with almost any supplements aimed at recovery and muscle growth.

  • Amylopectin with Whey proteins: we can drink a pre or post-workout shake consisting of rapid absorption proteins and amylopectin, in a 2:1 ratio in favour of the carbohydrate.
  • Amylopectin with Creatine: we can take a post-workout amylopectin milkshake with added creatine to recharge both glycogen and ATP deposits. If we are doing a creatine loading phase, this would be done with supplements taken during the day, or if we opt not to do so, then we can directly add 1g of creatine for every 10kg of body weight. 
  • Amylopectin with Glutamine: make a shake composed of amylopectin together with 5-10g of glutamine as an excellent option for recovery from physical exertion
  • Amylopectin with Pre-workout supplements.

We can create a supplementation plan by combining the previous ingredients as follows:

  • Pre-training: 1 pre-workout supplement together with 25 - 50 g of amylopectin
  • Post-workout: 25 - 50g of protein + 50 - 100g of amylopectin + creatine + 5 - 10g glutamine

Where to buy amylopectin?

You can buy amylopectin here on this website. One highly recommended product in the range is Amylopectin from the HSN Raw Series line, available in 1-3 kg tubs in neutral, lemon, strawberry, orange or tropical flavours.