If you have been at the gym and had a conversation with any aspiring bodybuilding who claims to know it all then it is likely they preach the importance of protein in building muscle, describing when to take it and how much at one time. That’s all well and good, but how often do these guys highlight the importance of carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are just as important as protein in the developing muscle mass, and have typically been given a bad rap by those who plug carbs as the food source to make fat, but that’s just down to the carb sources individuals choose and when the typically consume them.
Integrating carbs into your diet in order to build muscle and not pile on the fat is tricky, but far from rocket science! If you are looking to pack on some muscle and minimise fat storage in the off season (bulking phase) we are here to help you wise up.
First of all, it is important that each one of your meals is balanced – meaning it contains a quality protein source alongside carbohydrates. Consuming the two together means that carbohydrate is less likely to be stored as fat. The carbohydrates will help with the transportation of protein into the muscle. This is particularly important post exercise – and is one of the times when sugary food/fast acting carbohydrate sources such as maltodextrin are actually beneficial. The spike in insulin that these carbohydrates create means the body is in a far more anabolic state, pumping protein into the damaged muscles and replenishing glycogen stores that have been depleted during training.
Stick to complex carbohydrates during the day – avoid your processed sugary rubbish, and if you can’t stand the thought of cutting it out, make sure it’s only consumed after training. Unfortunately guys, although it’s not processed, you should also be trying to avoid fruit especially later afternoon and evening. I know… the health experts are going to hate us for saying that!
Complex carbs are found in whole food such as potato, rice, and oats and should make up the majority of your diet. These foods also tend to be very high in fibre, which in turn helps muscle fibres to absorb amino acids more efficiently. During an off season you can afford to take in relatively moderate levels of protein compared to a cutting period if your complex carbohydrate consumption is high. Complex carbs are digested slowly and therefore provide a prolonged source of energy throughout the day.