So you’re trying to build some muscle and you’ve been told all the classic approaches of increasing your protein intake, training heavy and light…progressively overloading and increasing your calories at the same time…but what about carbs. What is their role in everything and is it right to avoid over-consumption in case you pile too much fat on? Let’s break it down simply for you.
- Muscle is not just made up of protein, it’s mostly water
- The word carbohydrate.. ‘hydrate’ means water
- Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle and becomes becomes glycogen (a stored energy source for the muscle)
- For every gram of glycogen stored…it’ll bond to and hold 3 grams of water
- When you’re on a high intensity weight training plan and on lower than 60% carbs, you’ll eventually burn the glycogen stores in your muscles.
- With this glycogen burnt from your muscles, you’ll also lose the water that was bonded to it, resulting in flat, dehydrated, deflated muscles (think about when you look smaller and also struggle to gain a good pump in your workouts).
- Stay on this same carb intake and you’ll end up with catabolism of the muscle.
So to summarise all of this, it’s important to remember that no carbs = no muscle. People put so much emphasis into the protein side of things but forget the other building blocks of the muscle building process. Not to mention that greater carb intakes will result in way more energetic and powerful outputs in the gym so don’t be afraid to balance your diet better, carbs are definitely not the enemy! As a general guide along these lines, aim to keep your carbs at 60% or above, then protein at about 25% and fats at 15%.
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