Everything you need to know about carbohydrates in your bodybuilding diet for building muscle.
In today’s world there are a million different diets and techniques that all tell you how to lose weight. But there is one simple fact that most people understand – low carb diets are an extremely effective way to burn body fat. While this is great for a majority of the world, it does pose a problem for bodybuilders.
Why? Because low carb diets deplete muscle glycogen (aka stored carbs). This, of course, is the primary source of fuel during weight training. If your body runs out of carbs, working muscles are forced to get needed energy from fatty acids. This does not build muscle mass!
Conversely, any carbs that are not used throughout your day (and your workouts) end up as fat cells. This is also no good.
Ultimately, to improve one’s physique a bodybuilder needs every gram of carbohydrates to be burned for energy or stored as glycogen. This is the key to using carbohydrates effectively in your bodybuilding lifestyle.
This is easier said than done. So we are going to provide you with a basic guide on how to perfectly balance your carb intake so that nothing goes to waste (or fat).
A Few Key Facts
Carbohydrates are your body’s fuel. It provides the energy that you use throughout the day and especially when you are working out in the gym. If you lack carbs, not only will you feel more tired – you will also notice that your muscles develop more “flat” with less maximum gains.
Carbohydrates come in two forms: simple and complex. Simple carbs are broken down quickly by the body. These can be found in fruits, milk, and milk products – but can also be found in processed and refined sugars such as candy, syrup, cakes, etc. Complex carbohydrates are slow burning and can be found in brown rice, potatoes, and whole grain cereal.
Which leads us to…
Eat Complex Carbohydrates
Simple carbs are mostly unhealthy snack foods that most bodybuilders know to avoid. While fruit can be a great boost of quick acting carbs, it should only be eaten in moderation – if at all.
Complex carbs are the long lasting energy your body needs throughout the day in order train hard. As we said, complex carbs get stored as muscle glycogen which will be tapped once you push your muscles to the limit in the gym. Complex carbohydrates also promote the release of insulin. This is the body’s natural anabolic hormone and is essential for muscle development. Long story short – complex carbs are the way to go.
Eat Carbohydrates With High Fiber
As a companion to our last point, complex carbs usually are rich in fiber. This helps to build muscle by making tissue absorb amino acids faster. So make sure to check those sources of complex carbs for fiber as well. It will increase muscle gain..
Time Your Carb Loads
As we’ve stated previously, in general you should shoot for 50-80 grams of carbs per meal, depending on your poundage. This of course does not include post workout meals. After a workout your muscles need to rebuild. This requires energy. Carbohydrates are energy. Get it?
Also, don’t overload on carbohydrates on your rest days. Just how you need to eat extra carbs post workout – it only makes sense to eat less on the days when you aren’t pushing your body as hard. This will simply turn into fat.
Eat Protein and Carbs in the Same Meal
Carbohydrates help transport the nutrients from protein to the muscles cells. So eating both of these together in one meal helps maximize muscle growth. On top of that, mixing protein and carbohydrates together minimize the chance that carbs will be stored as fat. That’s the name of the game – minimize fat, maximize muscle gain.