Understanding the Role of Carbohydrates

When I first got started with improving my physique much was said about the importance of high protein consumption for building muscle. If you ask any bodybuilder about why you should have a high protein intake if you want to build muscle mass, you will get a detailed response explaining the way protein builds muscle tissue. However, not much is said about the very important nutrient, carbohydrate.

Carbs, which are converted into glucose or glycogen in the body, is the only macronutrient which can provide an immediate source of energy, which is essential for any type of weight training. Just because you are consuming a lot of protein for building muscle doesn’t mean that you should exclude carbohydrates in your muscle building diet. Not only do carbohydrates provide the best source of energy required for intense weight training sessions, but they are also protein sparing because their availability allows the body to use protein for it’s primary function, which is to build muscle tissue instead of having to rely on protein to supply energy which is not as efficient.

Carbohydrates are often overlooked when planning a muscle building diet. If you want to optimize your diet for muscle gain it’s important that you know how to integrate carbohydrate foods into your diet and training. It doesn’t need to be complicated you just need to follow a few simple rules.

Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are basically of two types. Simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Most of your carbohydrates should come from complex sources because they supply muscle glycogen, the long lasting fuel that your body needs to train hard. The amount of carbohydrates which are stored in muscle tissue can influence whether or not your muscles remain in an anabolic mode, which is essential for muscle building.

Just how important are muscle glycogen stores? Consuming more protein then what your body requires for building muscle tissue is not the answer and won’t increase muscle mass if glycogen stores are too low. On the contrary, if muscle glycogen stores are full it can promote muscle growth.

Good sources of complex carbs include whole foods like whole meal bread, whole grain cereal, potatoes, brown rice, pasta, fresh and tinned fruit and dried fruit.

Eat plenty of carbohydrates post workout

Post workout nutrition is very important if you want to build muscle. When you are training hard you need to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Eating a large amount of carbohydrates and at least 1 gram of protein per lb. of body weight. directly after a workout session provides your body with an insulin spike. This insulin spike puts your body into an anabolic state as it will promote a spike in growth hormone. The reason for consuming a lot of protein with the carbs post workout is that insulin increases protein synthesis by a very substantial margin.

Eat smaller amounts of carbohydrates more frequently

The best approach for gaining weight in the form of lean muscle mass is to eat smaller meals with carbohydrates more often. Instead of having 3 large meals throughout the day, make a habit of eating 5 or 6 smaller meals, and make sure you get plenty of carbohydrates with each meal to release a steady flow of insulin into the body. If you eat large amounts of carbohydrates in one sitting your body is much more likely to store them as fat.

For natural bodybuilders, carbohydrates are very important because you have to rely on the maximum efficiency of food for your energy production and muscle growth instead of using steroids. If you follow these simple rules it will enable you to build muscle faster.