There is a lot of information available to us on carbohydrates and many are confused with the numerous conflicting ideas. I think perhaps the biggest mistake is that the majority of the people try too many programs and don’t give any of them a chance to work.
Another common mistake for those trying to gain muscle size, power, and strength is eating insufficient carbohydrates. There are many trying to do a low-carbohydrate diet to gain size. As nice as that would be, it’s rather difficult, if not impossible. Granted, you can gain some size over a period of years on low carbohydrates, but many want results much quicker.
Why Carbs Are Important
Carbohydrates are important if you want to build muscle mass and strength. They are the primary source of energy for activity, especially weight training.
Those who train heavy with maximum intensity deplete their glycogen stores. This leads to a greater need of carbohydrates for fuel and glycogen replenishment. Carbohydrates are also necessary for digestion and utilization of fats and proteins.
How to Incorporate Carbohydrates in Your Diet
For overall balance, combine your carbohydrate with a complete protein to form a meal and to spare lean muscle tissue during training. Carbohydrates and protein should compose the bulk of your daily caloric intake, while keeping fat on the lower end.
Choose unprocessed complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc. These are best since they digest slowly and keep the blood glucose levels stable. To ballpark your carbohydrate intake, (men) multiply your bodyweight by 3, and women use your body weight times 2.
Timing is Everything When Taking in Carbs
It is imperative to consume some complex carbohydrates prior to training to fuel your heavy and intense workout. If you don’t have adequate energy, you will not train to your full potential.
There is an anabolic window that occurs within 20 minutes following training, when your muscles are depleted of glycogen. This is the optimal time that your body can utilize nutrients 100%. Not only is it is vital to consume complete protein at this time, but also complex and simple carbohydrates.
This immediate intake of protein and carbohydrates puts you in an anabolic state. The sugar from the simple carbohydrates will shuttle the carbohydrates, protein, and nutrients to the depleted muscles. This post-training nutrient intake also aids in recovery and growth by enhancing tissue repair by delivering amino acids and nutrients to the depleted muscles.