If you ask any bodybuilder to tell you about protein’s role in muscle building you’ll get an in-depth response about the way muscle builds, hypotrophy, anabolic rates and more! But what about if you asked the same bodybuilder about the role of carbohydrates and building muscle? I doubt you’d get a very lengthy response.
Carbohydrates are often overlooked when planning a muscle building diet. This is because a lot of people are not aware of the importance of carbohydrates and the role they play in muscle development. The truth is what type of carbohydrates you eat, when you eat them and how much you eat can have a great effect on the muscle building process.
If you want to optimize your diet for muscle gain and fat loss it’s important to know how to integrate carbohydrates into your diet. There’s nothing complex about it, you just have to follow a few simple rules.
TO MINIMIZE FAT STORAGE FOLLOW THESE RULES
Eat complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are found in whole foods like brown rice, potatoes, whole grain cereal and oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates should make up the bulk of your daily calorie intake because they form muscle glycogen, the long lasting fuel that your body needs to train hard. Complex carbohydrates are slow burning which means you get longer lasting energy. They also help keep your blood sugar levels constant, this reduces fat storage and fatigue and promotes the release of insulin. Insulin is the body’s natural anabolic hormone and is essential for muscle development.
Eat carbohydrates directly after training
When you train hard you reduce your blood sugar level considerably. Eating carbohydrates straight after a training session provides your body with an insulin spike. This insulin spike puts your body into an anabolic (muscle building) state. If you do not get the right nutrients after training it’s possible that your body could enter a catabolic (muscle breakdown) state. This is why post workout nutrition is so important.
Eat small amounts of carbohydrates more often
Eating smaller servings of carbohydrates more often helps keep 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. Eating to much is one sitting is unnecessary; your body doesn’t need that much nutrients at one time.
Eat high fiber carbohydrates
This goes hand-in-hand with point number 1 because most sources of complex carbohydrates are rich sources of fiber. Fiber helps to build muscle by making muscle tissue absorb amino acids faster and more efficiently.
This may sound insane because we all know that fruit is high in vitamins, low in calories and very good for general health and wellbeing. But, fruit contains fructose which is a very simple sugar. The body converts fructose into glycogen which is used as a building block for fat tissue.
Have carbohydrates and protein in the same meal
When you mix protein and carbohydrates together in the same meal you minimize the chance of the carbohydrates being stored as fat. Protein is harder for the body to process, so it increases your metabolism. Also, carbohydrates help transport the nutrients from protein to the muscle cells which aids in muscle growth.
Follow these rules, and you can use carbohydrates to your advantage to build more muscle faster. If you find you’re gaining too much fat then you should cut out carbs after 7pm. Unless you have a fast metabolism, eating carbs late at night is generally not a good idea. Your body does not need the energy while you’re sleeping so it’s likely to store the carbs as fat.
Another point worth mentioning here is meal sizes. Like I stated in point 3, you should eat small meals more often. Have you ever felt really tired after eating? Then you’ve eaten too much. Your body has to use a lot of energy to process the food which leaves you feeling tired and energy-less. This style of eating will also decrease your metabolic rate. To keep your metabolism high you need to constantly stimulate it with small meals every 3 hours or so.
So the main points you need to remember here are; eat good complex carbohydrates, eat small amounts more often, always have a good serving of complex carbohydrates about 1 hour before your workout (for energy) and straight after your meal (for insulin spike) and if you are gaining excess fat stop eating carbohydrates after 7pm.
If you’ve got any more questions about carbohydrates, diets or muscle building I’m available to answer your questions on our muscle building forum. It’s free to register and there's plenty of experienced members to answer your questions!