Carbohydrates Role In Muscle Building

Carbohydrates play two key roles in muscle building. The first is energy. Your body needs maximum energy to perform at maximum level. If you don't get enough energy from complex carbohydrates you will not be working as hard as you can and this will limit your muscle building potential. Simple carbohydrates will not cut it either, you may get 10 min of energy from a chocolate bar but after that you're left feeling tired and run down.

Insulin spike post workout

Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the human body and drives nutrients from the bloodstream into muscle cells. When you finish your workout your muscles are desperately trying to repair and rebuild and are crying out for energy and nutrients. This is the only time when simple carbohydrates will benefit you for muscle building.

A quick dose of simple carbohydrates post workout will raise depleted insulin levels which speeds up the process of protein synthesis (rebuilding of muscle tissue). Complex carbohydrates will not do the job here because they take longer to be absorbed into the body. An excellent source of simple carbohydrates post workout is a banana. Eating a banana will give you 25-30 grams of fast acting simple


When you need carbohydrates:

As mentioned earlier on this page, you need simple carbohydrates straight after your workout to increase insulin levels. But what about your energy levels throughout the day? You should kick off the day with a good serve of protein and carbohydrates.

When you wake up your body has just had eight hours without any nutritional intake and is crying out for food. Another time when complex carbohydrates are very important is pre-workout for energy. Try and have a good meal filled with complex carbohydrates and protein about 1 hours to 45 mins before your workout.

The thing you must remember with carbohydrates is that your body only uses what it needs and stores the rest as fat. This is why you need to spread your carbohydrate intake out over the day for optimum energy levels and minimal fat storage. Most bodybuilders eat between 5-8 meals per day consisting of a high amount of protein and moderate complex carbohydrates. The "3 meal a day" trend is starting to shift as people realize it's much better to eat less, more often, for both weight loss and weight gains.

Types of carbohydrate supplements:

Carbohydrate supplements come in powdered form. There are two basic types that are used by bodybuilders; blends and pure. Blends are your typical "weight gainers". They consist of mostly pure carbohydrates with proteins, fats and sometimes other supplements added. Pure carbohydrate supplements are exactly that, pure. 100% pure carbohydrates. Bodybuilder often mix these supplements in with post-workout shakes for insulin spike. Pure carbohydrate supplements are much better because the bodybuilder can control the amounts he/she wishes to consume at any one time.

Supplements vs real carbohydrates:

At the end of the day, nothing beats real food. Because good complex carbohydrates are readily available, cheap and easy to consume in large amounts, carbohydrate supplements are not as common as protein and creatine which are much harder to consume in high amounts. The best (and only) time you can really benefit from carbohydrate supplements are post-workout. Pure carbohydrate supplements are formulated to give you a maximum insulin spike.

Basically, carbohydrates come in two forms; simple and complex.

Simple carbs are found in natural and processed sugars and are quickly absorbed into the body for use as energy. This energy is not long lasting and can often be followed by a dip in energy levels resulting in the person feeling tired and lethargic. Simple carbohydrates are generally not recommended for muscle building or keeping healthy.

Complex carbohydrates make up the bulk of the bodies energy source. Complex carbohydrates come in foods such as wheat, brown rice, potatoes, bread and oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates take much longer for the body to turn into energy but this energy is long lasting. Regular servings of food high in complex carbohydrates is recommended for all athletes. Complex carbohydrates are known as "good carbs" because they give you long lasting energy to work harder and feel better throughout the day.