Many individuals underestimate the importance of carbohydrates in bodybuilding simply because of the notion that carbs are calories that can be converted by the body into fat. And since bodybuilders don’t need fat, instead muscles, they try to avoid carbs and fat altogether in their bodybuilding nutrition. But, what really is the deal between carbs and bodybuilding?
Carbohydrates and Bodybuilding – An Unlikely Pair?
Bodybuilding requires proteins, lots of it, to build muscles. Unfortunately, you also need energy to pump iron and really hasten the speed of muscle buildup. The body is inherently wired to use carbohydrates as its primary energy source. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose and delivered to the different cells of the body, including muscle cells, as their source of energy for a variety of biochemical processes. Bringing glucose from the blood and into the cell is the work of the hormone insulin. If there is extra glucose in the blood because it is no longer needed by the cells, this is converted into glycogen to be stored in the muscles and the liver. Any other excess is converted into fat. When there is a need for energy, as what happens when you need to go to the gym and start your bodybuilding regimen for the day, this glycogen store is mobilized to help you get through the back-breaking bodybuilding routine.
If you have just enough amounts of carbs, your body will not have to look for energy elsewhere. Here’s the thing, if there’s no stored glycogen, your body will have to burn fatty. This is actually great if you want to lose weight. But burning fat takes a long time so you will feel less energetic, to say the least. If there’s no fat, your body will then have to use proteins for energy. If that’s the case, then what are you going to use for building muscles if your body is already burning the protein building blocks?
That is why it is crucial to have the right amounts and types of carbohydrates to help you maximize your bodybuilding efforts.
How to Take Carbs while Training
Carbohydrates are essential to bodybuilding. However, it is equally crucial to know how to take carbs properly while training. The following are tips you can observe to help you maximize your bodybuilding efforts with carbs in your diet plan.
- Skip the simple carbs and reach for the complex carbs like vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, and oatmeal, among others. These give you staying power so you will be able to train for significantly longer periods of time. These also stabilizes your blood sugar and help reduce the storage of fat. These are also rich in fiber which can aid in better absorption of muscle-building amino acids.
- Eat carbs about an hour before and immediately after your bodybuilding workout to boost your insulin levels. This helps boost your anabolism so more proteins are built into your muscles. Loading on carbs also helps provide you the energy you need to perform those bodybuilding routines.
- Eat carbs more frequently but in smaller portions. This keeps your glucose levels steady. Consuming more than necessary leads to fat conversion and storage.
- Eat carbs together with your proteins. The body uses tremendous amounts of energy to process proteins. Carbs can supply the energy needed while at the same time enhance the muscle-building properties of proteins. It also reduces the likelihood of converting carbs into fat.
- Avoid fruits as these are rich in fructose. As you know, fructose is a simple sugar and your goal is to consume more of complex sugars.
How Carbs Help in Bodybuilding
To put it simply, you need carbohydrates to give you the energy you need to perform all those bodybuilding routines. As already explained in the preceding section, carbs help boost the levels of insulin to help in anabolic activity. It also helps stabilize blood sugar to make the muscle-building process more efficient. Complex carbs also help prevent its conversion into fat thus providing you with more benefits.
Carbs You Should Include in Your Bodybuilding Diet
Here are some of the carbs you really need to include in your diet to help you with your bodybuilding efforts.
- Oat bran cereal
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Beans such as kidney beans, black beans, string beans, and pinto beans
- Green leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce and spinach
- Other vegetables like broccoli, celery, cauliflower, bell peppers, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts
- Other complex carbs
Having an understanding of the relationship between carbs and bodybuilding, you can be more confident in building those muscles. Just remember to go for complex carbs in more frequent but smaller portions.
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