Muscle Glycogen Reload: Sugar, Dextrose, and Animal Creatine Chews

It’s summer of 2023, and everyone’s been talking about creatine again. This time it’s getting more attention from women, which is something we’ve wanted to see for decades.

Always ahead of the curve, the Animal team over at Universal Nutrition has long had many creatine-based supplements, but they reformulated their lineup in 2022, adding two extremely creative editions in 2022:

Animal Creatine Chews Glycogen Reload

What better way to start your post-workout glycogen reload than 5 grams of creatine monohydrate and 4 grams of carbohydrates in Animal Creatine Chews? In this article, we explain why the choice of sucrose and dextrose is a great one for Animal athletes.

It should be no surprise that the most popular product of the bunch are the Animal Creatine Chews. For those unaware, these aren’t chewy — they’re actually chewable tablets. And that’s important not just for the experience, but the ingredients used to make them, which will be the focus of this article.

Animal Creatine Chews: The most fun way to creatine

We cover the numerous benefits of creatine in the three articles linked above. But when it comes to Animal’s Chews, something is needed to bind those tablets together. And that something happens to be mostly carbohydrates – in the form of sugar, dextrose, and a dash of maltodextrin.

No sweeteners needed: Creatine time is carb-up time

Each four-tablet serving of Creatine Chews provides a classic 5 grams of creatine monohydrate with 4 grams of carbs (all 4 of which are labeled as sugar). They taste great, and they do it without additional sweeteners. No sucralose, no stevia, no monk fruit… no need. Because we’ve got real carbs that are already sweet.

Animal by Universal Nutrition

We realize that 4 grams of carbs isn’t a big deal, and you’ll certainly want more in a post-workout state, but this gives us an excuse to talk about why we like having some sugar (sucrose) and dextrose (glucose) post-workout, as opposed to something like high-fructose corn syrup.

So today, we dig into some of the studies on using dextrose and sucrose post-workout, and why it’s better than a higher-fructose post-workout. But first, check our Animal Creatine Chews prices below, and sign up for our Universal Nutrition alerts — we have a feeling more related products are on their way:

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Muscle glycogen reloading

Before diving deep, let’s quickly explain why we’re here: glycogen.


A 2D representation of glycogen, the multi-branched glucose polysaccharide used for energy storage. Image courtesy Wikimedia

Glycogen is a form of glucose that’s used as a neutral and easily-accessible way to store energy in cells.[1] It gets stored in cells throughout the body, but for our purposes, we’re concerned with muscle glycogen, as opposed to liver glycogen. Reason being, when training hard enough, muscle glycogen is broken down and oxidized to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our cell’s high-energy molecule that’s used to contract muscles (and far more).[2]

So while all glycogen is useful to the body, our focus as hard-training athletes is to reload our muscle glycogen stores as soon as possible, especially if training in an aggressive fitness program that necessitates frequent workout sessions. Muscle glycogen is limited,[3,4] and once it’s depleted, work output and performance/intensity diminish significantly.[3]

The question is, how quickly we can best replenish that glycogen to get you back on the field or back in the gym without missing a step.

Nutrient timing: The great debate

There are many debates regarding nutrient timing, especially when it comes to protein and carbohydrates. While the infamous post-workout “anabolic window” may not be as short as some believe in terms of protein,[5-7] there indeed seems to be benefits when it comes to ingesting post-workout carbohydrates faster.

Universal Animal Creatine Chews

For a more on-the-go delivery method, try out Universal’s Animal Creatine Chews!

For instance, research shows that when glycogen is heavily depleted in a workout, it can be reloaded in the first 15-60 minutes post-workout without the assistance of insulin (this is known as the insulin-independent phase).[8-13] Including protein is also beneficial for both glycogen reload and muscle protein synthesis.[14,15]

And perfect for our purposes in this article — one research study found that creatine supplementation increased muscle glycogen content as well![16]

We get into dosage below, but if you’re training like an Animal, Creatine Chews and their 4 grams of carbohydrates are just scratching the surface. What are some simple and effective solutions to add more?

Dextrose vs. Fructose vs. Sucrose for Muscle Glycogen Reload

One thing we love about Animal is that they keep it simple. For example, the Animal Fury pre-workout is about as much of a straight-shooter as it gets (if you need more complexity, Animal Primal is also there).

As mentioned in the intro, when it comes to the main carb sources in Creatine Chews, you get 4 grams of sugars coming from sugar (sucrose) and dextrose (glucose). There’s also maltodextrin on the label, but it must be less than half a gram since all four carbohydrates are labeled as sugars, and maltodextrin is not a sugar. So let’s focus on the label’s sugar and dextrose.

With sucrose (table sugar), you have a molecule that’s half glucose, half fructose.[17] And with dextrose, you have D-glucose, the right-handed isomer of glucose, which is the same molecule making up your blood sugar. So this is a glucose-heavy blend, and we like that – nice, simple, and easy for your body to process.

Sucrose (Table Sugar)

Sucrose is equimolar glucose and fructose

Using sugar for glycogen reload is an interesting situation, but first let’s talk about dextrose vs. fructose:

Dextrose loads the muscle, fructose loads the liver

At least three studies have shown that muscle glycogen synthesis is greater with dextrose/glucose than fructose.[18-20] An earlier intravenous study shows this as well, but to a lesser extent.[21]

Glucose Fructose Glycogen

Fructose reloads liver glycogen, but dextrose/glucose reload muscle glycogen. So why waste time with fructose? Cut to the chase with straight up dextrose![19] The wild part is what happens when we have them combined with sucrose, though…

In general, research repeatedly finds that ingesting glucose leads to greater muscle glycogen synthesis, while ingesting fructose leads to greater liver glycogen synthesis.[18-20] Not only does fructose absorb more slowly from the intestine,[22,23] but the liver also has to convert fructose to glucose,[23-25] which is a relatively slow process.[26]

It’s of course the muscle glycogen that we aim for post-workout, so dextrose is a superior carbohydrate for our purposes.

But what about sucrose? It’s half fructose, after all, and is the first ingredient in Animal Chews.

Sugar / Sucrose for glycogen reload: better than you think!

Since sucrose is the chemical combination of glucose and fructose, you’d think that it’s less effective at muscle glycogen reload. However, this is where it gets interesting:

Animal Creatine Chews Benefits

Research has shown that muscle glycogen synthesis rates are similar when comparing sucrose and glucose![18,27] Cross-comparing evidence between multiple studies shows that within a 4-hour window, high sucrose intake leads to similar muscle glycogen uptake as glucose.[28-30] It’s not fully clear why this is the case – one theory is that the fructose portion of the molecule pre-occupies and slows liver glycogen uptake, allowing the glucose portion to escape and get to the muscle with no further interruptions.[18] Regardless, sugar isn’t always the villain it’s made out to be.

The point is, when it comes to post-workout glycogen replenishment, both dextrose and straight table sugar are great ingredients to work with. If you’re training hard, there’s no need to fear the sugar. But realize that the “candy post-workout” meme only makes sense if said candy isn’t laden with high fructose corn syrup… and with most candy these days, that’s sadly not the case.

Carbohydrate dosage

It all goes without saying that you actually have to train like an Animal for this conversation to even be necessary — “earn your carbs”, so to speak. If you don’t do anything to empty your glycogen, you don’t need to do as much to refill it, after all. And if your muscle glycogen is already full, you’ll just be sending more sugar to your liver to expand the pot-belly.

Dextrose vs Honey

In terms of performance, cyclists ingesting dextrose had a higher power output than those ingesting honey (more fructose, lower GI).[31]

With that disclaimed, dosage depends on size, urgency, and how “anabolically enhanced” you are. As with many things, there are levels to this:

For the average Joe who’s training once a day, eating enough carbohydrates throughout the day will eventually get your muscle glycogen reloaded.[32] On the other hand, if you’re going hog wild, maximum glycogen stores have been found with incredibly high-glycemic, high-carbohydrate diets ranging from 600 to a whopping 1000 grams of carbohydrates![13,33,34] For most, a 24 hour reload is fine. But for others who are training multiple times per day or looking at repeated bouts (such as in a competitive tournament or track meet), speed matters.

General recommendations

Animal Creatine Chews Glycogen Reload

In general, however, the most reasonable recommendation if you’re looking to reload glycogen stores quickly is 1.2 grams per kilogram (75-90 grams of carbohydrate) post-workout taken immediately after exercise.[8] If going full-tilt, this can be done on an hourly basis for 4-6 hours post-workout, and glycogen would refill without protein. However, you can lower the intake (to say 0.8 grams per kilogram per hour) if combining with protein (such as Animal Whey) and amino acids (Animal Juiced Aminos).[8]

There’s a lot more to the story, and there are several situation-dependent strategies. Three great reviews are titled “Determinants of post-exercise glycogen synthesis during short-term recovery”,[8] “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing”,[15] and “Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes”,[2] and they’re all well worth reading for competitive athletes.

Conclusion: We’re going to need more chews.

What this tells us is that by making chewables with sugar and dextrose instead of syrup-laden gummies, Animal made the right formulation for their Creatine Chews and for their demographic. And, as most Animal athletes know, carbohydrates and sugar are not to be feared, at least not immediately post-workout.

The only issue is, these Chews are a mere appetizer in terms of carbohydrates. One that at least gets our creatine reloaded, but hard-training athletes need far more carbs.

So it sounds like we’ll need some more Chews from Animal.

Stay tuned.

Universal Animal Creatine Chews – Deals and Price Drop Alerts

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Disclosure: PricePlow relies on pricing from stores with which we have a business relationship. We work hard to keep pricing current, but you may find a better offer.

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About the Author: Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is an n=1 diet experimenter with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several experiments done on himself while sharing lab tests.

Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

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  27. Casey, Anna, et al. “Effect of Carbohydrate Ingestion on Glycogen Resynthesis in Human Liver and Skeletal Muscle, Measured by 13C MRS.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 278, no. 1, 1 Jan. 2000, pp. E65–E75, doi:10.1152/ajpendo.2000.278.1.e65;
  28. van Hall, G., et al. “Muscle Glycogen Resynthesis during Recovery from Cycle Exercise: No Effect of Additional Protein Ingestion.” Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 88, no. 5, 1 May 2000, pp. 1631–1636, doi:10.1152/jappl.2000.88.5.1631;
  29. Jentjens, Roy L. P. G., et al. “Addition of Protein and Amino Acids to Carbohydrates Does Not Enhance Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis.” Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 91, no. 2, 1 Aug. 2001, pp. 839–846, doi:10.1152/jappl.2001.91.2.839;
  30. van Loon, Luc JC, et al. “Maximizing Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis: Carbohydrate Supplementation and the Application of Amino Acid or Protein Hydrolysate Mixtures.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 72, no. 1, 1 July 2000, pp. 106–111, doi:10.1093/ajcn/72.1.106;
  31. Earnest, Conrad P., et al. “Low vs. High Glycemic Index Carbohydrate Gel Ingestion during Simulated 64-Km Cycling Time Trial Performance.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, vol. 18, no. 3, 1 Aug. 2004, pp. 466–472;
  32. Keizer, H., et al. “Influence of Liquid and Solid Meals on Muscle Glycogen Resynthesis, Plasma Fuel Hormone Response, and Maximal Physical Working Capacity*.” International Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 08, no. 02, Apr. 1987, pp. 99–104, doi:10.1055/s-2008-1025649;
  33. Bussau, Vanessa, et al. “Carbohydrate Loading in Human Muscle: An Improved 1 Day Protocol.” European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 87, no. 3, 1 July 2002, pp. 290–295, doi:10.1007/s00421-002-0621-5;
  34. Goforth, Harold W., et al. “Effects of Depletion Exercise and Light Training on Muscle Glycogen Supercompensation in Men.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 285, no. 6, Dec. 2003, pp. E1304–E1311, doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00209.2003;

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