Yes, you read that title right, using carbs to build muscle in your female bodybuilding diet plan. Who’da thunk! This may sound like an oxymoron because if you ask any serious female bodybuilder what builds muscle she will tell you protein.
No doubt about it, protein does indeed build muscle, but an often overlooked muscle building macronutrient is… *drumroll please*… CARBS! Yes, you read that right. Carbohydrates, properly implemented into your muscle-building plan, can boost muscle and strength gain.
There is no shortage of information online about carbs. In fact, there is so much conflicting information available that carbs have become a total mystery and most people avoid them like the plague!
The Biggest Mistake Many Women Bodybuilders Make Is NOT Eating Enough Carbs…
The biggest mistake many lifters make in their diet is perhaps not eating carbs or not eating enough carbs long enough to reap the muscle building benefits. If you want to build muscle, power, and strength, you NEED to eat enough carbs to actually get the job done. You aren’t going to build the amount of muscle you could potentially build on a low-carb diet. It’s just not going to happen.
Carbohydrates Are The Path to Quicker Muscle Gains
If your goal is to build beautiful, feminine muscle, then you need to be eating carbs in addition to your protein in your female bodybuilding diet plan.
Carbs are CRITICALLY important if your goal is to build muscle because they are the primary fuel source for activity, especially in high-intensity weight training. Training with heavy poundage with maximum intensity depletes your glycogen stores. This leads to a greater need of carbs for energy and glycogen replenishment for recovery. In addition to fuel and recovery, carbs are needed for digestion and utilization of protein and fats.
Creating a Balancing Act
Carbs are 100% absolutely critical for building muscle, but you need balance in your bodybuilding diet. Be sure you combine your carbs with a complete protein to form a balanced meal.
This is the key combination to sparing and building muscle mass. In fact, since carbs and protein should be the bulk of your female muscle building diet, your fat intake should be somewhat lower to ensure your calories are not in excess.
Be sure to eat natural, unprocessed complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, etc. These choices are great because they digest slowly and keep your blood sugar levels stabilized. A general rule of thumb, you can estimate your carb intake, (women) multiply your body weight by 2, and men use your body weight times three.
Timing for Best Results
It’s VITAL to eat complex carbs before training to fuel your heavy and intense training session. If you don’t have sufficient energy from carbs you cannot train to your full potential, in turn, hindering your muscle growth potential.
There is an anabolic (muscle growth) window that occurs within 20-40 minutes after a workout. This is the time when your muscles are totally depleted of glycogen. At this time your muscles will utilize carbs, especially simple sugars, and other nutrients 100%!
Your Post-Training Carb Meal Is The Most Important And Anabolic Meal!
In fact, the immediate intake of protein and carbs 20-40 minutes post-training will put you in an anabolic state. The sugar from the simple carbs will shuttle the carbs, protein and other nutrients directly to the glycogen depleted muscles for immediate absorption.
This post-training nutrient intake helps in muscle recovery and growth by enhancing tissue repair by delivering amino acids and nutrients to the starving muscles. The muscles get nourished, they recover, and they get a bit stronger than they were.
It’s important to know that your body can only tolerate high glycemic simple sugars to its advantage following an intense workout, not all day, every day. While insulin is an anabolic hormone post-training it can be a fat producing hormone if used at other not-so-important times when too much insulin is secreted and can’t be used properly. A constant supply of too much sugar will result in you being insulin sensitive, borderline hypoglycemic, fat gain, and eventually type 2 diabetic.
Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT