By Nick Wolanski, Junior Mr Scotland
Carbohydrates are of primary importance to bodybuilders such as you who are seeking to maximize muscle mass. They are "protein sparing" which simply means that if you have sufficient carbohydrates present (full glycogen stores), protein will be used primarily for growth and repair. If you do not have sufficient carbohydrates present you may use protein for fuel/energy, instead of for growth and repair of muscle!
You've no doubt heard a great deal on carbohydrates and the 21st century craze with " LOW CARB " diets that the media and skinny celebrities promote as the best way to lose fat; ITS ALL BULL SHIT. Many people including many misinformed bodybuilders believe carbs to be an enemy when building a big masculine body, however the only enemy in this case is saturated fats which will be discussed in the next chapter. Carbs are absolutely amazing at adding pounds of solid muscle and sending your strength through the roof. However if not consumed at the right times or under the wrong circumstances then yes Carbs will have a negative effect and can make you fat and puffy. Thankfully I am here to make sure you eat the right Carbs at the right times!
You can give carbohydrates many names such as complex and simple however in the end they are all sugars! Yes you heard me correctly, all carbohydrates are sugar and the body will convert any carbohydrate into GLUCOSE or also known as blood sugar. When you eat Carbs it causes your blood-sugar levels to rise and then one of two things will occur:
The first is that the higher blood-sugar level stimulates the pancreas to create muscle hormone. When muscle hormone reaches certain receptors on a cell, it causes the cell to absorb nutrients at a much higher rate. So the cell starts absorbing protein, fat and vitamins at an alarming rate. So what does this mean for you then? Well it means that your muscle cells contain more amino acids, water and vitamins which means they become fuller, stronger and will hence grow bigger adding pounds of solid muscle to your frame! NOT BAD EH!
The second thing that can happen is that your body senses that your blood-sugar levels are too high in which case it will lower muscle hormone levels and the extra Carbs get stored as fat which is exactly what we do not want!
Simple Carbs are those which are released in to the blood stream at a very fast rate and complex Carbs are those which are released into the blood stream at a slower rate. So you basically need to know when to intake simple Carbs and when to take Complex Carbs.
Complex Carbs are best eaten on there own and in the morning. The reason for this is that complex Carbs will give you a nice full feeling which means you won't get any cravings for junk food during the day and by eating plenty at breakfast you will have enough energy to see you through the day. It is highly important to remember that protein and complex Carbs should not be consumed in the same meal! This is because when you consume protein the body uses acids to break it down for digestion and when you consume Carbs the body will use alkalines to break the Carbs down. The end result is that the alkalines neutralise the acids and this stops both the Carbs and all important protein from being digested. NOT WHAT WE WANT!
Simple Carbs are best taken immediately after a workout to take advantage of high blood-sugar levels as described at the start. Your muscles are totally depleted and ripped to shreds at the end of a hard workout so they MUST be replenished. By taking a serving of protein such as LA WHEY along with some simple Carbs at the end of your workout will ensure your muscles are flooded with all the protein, water and micro nutrients they need to rest and recover. About one hour after this you should consume a solid meal consisting of complex Carbohydrates to start really adding muscle mass to your body. I recommend that your diet consists of around 50% Carbohydrates each day alongside 35% protein and 15% good fats.
Well its no surprise that we're gonna' get our much needed muscle building Carbs from food is it. I hope that I am getting through to you when I say that nutrition is just as important as lifting weights when it comes to adding serious muscle mass. Your efforts in the kitchen must equal the efforts in the gym. Excuses like "I don't have time to eat", or "I can't eat that much" don't fly. If you can put something between two slices of bread and stuff it in your mouth between two things, you have time to eat. And eating a lot is something you teach yourself by gradually increasing your calories. It's all about effort, in the gym and in the kitchen. What it comes down to is "How bad do you want it?"
Foods containing complex Carbs are:
Sweet potato, brown rice, all bran, porridge oats, leafy green vegetables, pasta (boiled for 5 min), milk, cheese, nuts, yogurt. Complex Carbs can benefit your health and athletic performance. Being that complex Carb foods are assimilated at a slower rate, they supply a steadier supply of energy. They alleviate hunger, leading to a more controlled appetite. Selecting them will prevent mood swings. They can also result in higher muscle glycogen levels (storing more carbs in the muscle), and less chance of storing the extra glucose as fat. You see elevated muscle hormone levels can turn on your fat storing mechanisms.
Foods containing simple Carbs are:
Bread, pastries, honey, puffed cereals, regular potatoes, bananas, carrots, corn, peas, crisps. Basically any confectionary item or sugary drinks.
So using simple Carbs after training can benefit you greatly. Consuming simple carbs within the first 15 minutes to 30 min after training can give you a big head start on replenishing depleted glycogen levels in the muscle. After training you want the muscle hormone levels to rise causing the proteins, carbs, and other nutrients to be shuttled into the starving muscles. Simple Carbs are suggested for this recovery purpose because of the spike in muscle hormone they cause.
So there's the low down on Carbs and how to use them to get big and strong. I hope this helps clear up any worries you might have had on how to incorporate carbohydrates into your diet.
The next time, we will look at fats.
If you need any help or want to run a diet by me or want me to give you personalised diet tips you can contact me by email on:
Now go get stuck in!!!