Regardless of your reasons for exercising, building muscles is surely a part of your routine. Whether it’s aesthetics, health, losing or gaining weight, building muscles are an essential part of exercise. Those who try to build muscles will often hear a lot of pieces of advice on how exactly they should go about it. From scientific research and factual information to witch doctor methods and internet fads, it seems there is endless information about how you should work on building your muscles.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s only one way to build muscles, either. Instead, you’ll need to figure out which approach is actually real and which works for you. In that spirit, it probably goes without saying that almost everyone has heard that carbs are extremely good for building muscles. What exactly is their role, though?
Why do you need carbs?
Carbs are important for building muscles, that’s true, but the question is, why is it true? Well, the thing is that carbs are the body’s preferred energy source. In other words, when your body needs more energy, especially during an intense workout, it’s going to tap into the glycogen stores. These glycogen stores are actually carbs and sugar which is converted to glucose. As you may or may not know, the body burns glucose as its first energy source.
Thus, eating carbs keeps you energized throughout even the most intense workouts. All of those who are spending more time in the gym to build muscle will want to have the extra energy. In fact, if you have a low carbohydrate diet, your performance may even be affected negatively.
On top of all this, there’s another biological element that plays a part in your carb for muscle diet. One of the main reasons a carb diet is recommended for building muscle is that carbs help your body process protein better. In fact, carbohydrates have a sparing effect on protein which allows your body to process it so well.
When we look at the extreme restriction over a longer period of time, we can notice that your muscles don’t even reap the benefits of the protein you’re eating. This is why carbs are especially important after exercise, as they allow your muscles to repair and start a process called muscle glycogen synthesis.
How do carbs help build muscles?
Muscle mass should be built through weight resistance exercises, as this has been proven to be the most efficient way of achieving the desired results. Such an exercise regime is often exhausting and can be a lot for some people to handle. After all, you have to push yourself to your limits. Since the exercise is so straining, you’re going to need some nutrients to help your muscles grow.
One thing you should be aware of is that muscles grow faster when there’s a build-up of protein in your body. As we already mentioned, protein is dependent on the carbs you’re ingesting. Let’s further elaborate on this topic.
We said that carbs work well with protein, but you should also know that they increase the rate of transportation of amino acids to the tissue. The fact that they help with protein synthesis also means that they decrease protein breakdown. Thus, more protein that can be used for building muscle is stored in the body.
Resistance training requires a lot of energy, which is where glycogen comes into play. This is the main source of energy your body uses and needs. At the same time, the build-up of protein is needed to increase muscle size. If you’ve been paying attention so far, you’re aware that carbs are the perfect nutrient for both of these scenarios.
Simple carbohydrates are basically sugars that have shorter chains of molecules and are quicker to digest. In other words, simple carbs just produce a spike in blood glucose. This gives the body a short-lasting source of energy. You may know this initial spike in energy and blood as a sugar rush.
For a while, people have believed that a sugar rush can only happen after eating certain simple carbs. The most common example of this would be a sugary drink or a chocolate bar. Upon further investigation, studies have shown that carbs don’t actually elevate the mood or activity levels after those certain foods.
Instead, simple carbs were found to just reduce alertness and increase fatigue after thirty minutes to half an hour. This is why simple carbs shouldn’t be your choice when it comes to endurance and resistance training. You’re going to need a healthy source of long-term energy that you can use effectively.
Not only do simple carbs only provide short amounts of energy, but they are also not very nutritious. So, you won’t be doing anything good for your body in any case. Of course, this doesn’t mean that simple carbs can only be found in sugar. They’re also present in some healthy foods. Whole fruits and milk both contain simple carbohydrates with the addition of vitamins, minerals, and some other nutrients. So, simple carbs don’t always have to be the worst choice for your workouts as far as nutritional value is concerned. Still, keep in mind that they might not provide you with the energy you need to endure your resistance workouts.
On the other hand, we have complex carbs. They take longer to digest and are generally a more stable source of energy than simple carbs. This is because complex carbs contain longer chains of sugar molecules that can be converted into glucose. The body uses glucose for energy and as complex carbs take longer to break down, they provide a more lasting energy source in the body. This is why complex carbs may be a better choice for your long and intense workouts.
Be careful though, as some complex carbs are available in foods with low nutritional value. In fact, most complex carbs can be found in processed foods. One bad example of complex carbs is white flour. A good example of complex carbs, on the other hand, would be fiber. This is a constituent of plant-based foods. As you already may know, fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system.
Keep in mind that complex carbohydrates may provide more energy, but that they don’t have to necessarily be healthier than simple carbs. The best thing you can do is to consider the overall nutritional value of the food you’re having if you want to make sure you’re eating healthy. That being said, it also might be more appropriate to choose healthy complex carbs for intense workouts.
Carbs and protein
It’s often the question of whether you should use protein or carbohydrates when trying to build muscle. We’ve already covered that both are very important for energy and for faster muscle growth. So, the most logical answer to the question of using carbs or protein is to use them both. This way, you’ll be getting the benefits of both carbs and protein, as well as the added benefit of them working together in perfect harmony.
If you ingest carbohydrates and protein before workouts, you’ll end up increasing your muscle mass much faster. You can even combine these two ingredients after working out for the same effect. Plus, you’ll heal much faster, too. Another bonus is that the carbs and protein also prevent your muscles from breaking down. You’ll only get the bulk-up you’ve been looking for.
So, you can see that ingesting carbs and protein together gives you the best results. The protein is actually the building block for muscle growth while the carbs are there to provide the energy you actually need for muscle growth.
How many carbs should you eat for building muscle?
We’ve finally come to the question of how many carbs are actually necessary for you to build muscle. Well, in most cases, a high carb diet will be necessary. If you’re counting macros, it’s advisable to make about fifty-five percent of your diet carbs. Twenty-five percent should consist of protein, and twenty should consist of fat. These are just general numbers that should be adjusted to your goals and the response of your body to carbs. Some people may need more and some might need less.
As your results depend on how well you calculate the number of carbs your body needs, you should take care to double-check your calculations. In fact, in most cases, it is suggested to meet with a sports dietitian. There’s no one more qualified than them to give you the exact macro plan that your body needs.
Eating carbs for muscle growth
Up to know, it’s pretty clear that eating carbs is a must for muscle-building. As carbohydrates create glycogen, you’ll have more energy than ever to completely nail your resistance training. Any healthy athlete trying to build muscle will tell you than their diet needs to be full of carbs for this very reason.
Carbs should be present in your diet in all the ways you can get them. If you’re really working hard on building muscles, you should even consider adding quality carbohydrate supplements to your diet. In fact, this might be the easiest way to tailor your diet to your workout needs. After all, the results you get depend entirely on when you ingest your carbs.
It’s most effective when you consume carbohydrates and protein before exercise. This will give you additional energy while working out and you’ll be able to endure your intense resistance training. You should also ingest carbs post-workout as they’ll be essential in helping with the recovery process. Muscle repair means that you’ll also be less sore after such intense workouts. All of this ensures you’ll get your results more quickly and that you won’t put your body and health in any kind of danger, even during the most straining workouts.
Can you make it with low-carb diets?
Some people don’t want the carbs but still, want the muscles. The question is, is that even possible? Well, the short answer is yes. Even though it might be appealing and more convenient for some, a low carb diet isn’t actually that effective. The thing is, the carbs create the glycogen you need for resistance workouts. Without that glycogen, you’re not going to have nearly enough energy for long and intense workouts.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to build muscle at all. Having a low-carb diet means that you won’t be able to do it at nearly the same pace as someone regularly ingesting carbs.
Resistance exercises use less strength than mixed and endurance sports. As well as that, muscle builders generally need fewer carbs. What’s the problem then? Well, when the carbohydrate intake gets too low, you’re going to start losing weight. When you start losing weight, though, you’re also going to be losing mass and muscle.
The thing is, you need a high-carb diet when building muscles because carbs are the only energy source that actually breaks down quickly enough during very intense workouts. Protein and fats might provide you with energy, but they don’t provide you with nearly enough power at a fast enough rate.
Some studies and cases have even shown that athletes who aren’t on low-carb diets still have trouble with not ingesting enough carbs to satisfy their body’s need for glycogen during workouts. These levels need to be regularly refilled so as performance issues can be avoided.
What foods should I avoid?
When it comes to building muscle, it’s not just about eating the right foods to bulk-up. You can eat all the carbs you want, but you still have to avoid certain other foods to get the results you want. After all, these types of foods impair muscle growth and basically erase all of your hard work.
So, as well as eating a substantial amount of carbs, you should also avoid foods with saturated fats. Keep in mind that not all meats are the same. In other words, red meat isn’t going to give you the protein you need for making your muscles bigger.
No matter how much protein is good for building muscles, you shouldn’t have too much. It’s all about measuring the right amounts of protein for the best results. When it comes to muscle building, the general recommendation is not to eat more than 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. Too much protein is known to raise cholesterol and increase the risk of kidney disease. It can even cause weight gain. All of this will only steer you further away from your goal of muscle building, even if the protein is good for it.
As you can see, carbs can be extremely beneficial for building muscle. Now that you understand their role in your exercise routine, you can safely start working out without fear of failure. Just like with everything else, you’ll need to work hard and long if you want real and long-lasting results. Building muscles will take a lot of your time until you get to where you need to be, but it’ll definitely be worth it. Carbs can be your ultimate weapon for building muscle, you just have to use them wisely.