Updated: Jul 30, 2022
Our daily/weekly nutrition is vital to get the most out of your gym/exercise routine getting this right or wrong will either make or break your long term fitness goals.
Protein: Protein is the foundation of muscle gain. This essential component is a necessity for all of your body’s daily functions and uses. Despite myths and misconceptions surrounding how much protein you should or should not eat, it’s important to balance one’s protein accrual with the rest of their nutritional intake.
Carbs: Along with protein, carbs act as the body’s source of fuel. As the primary component in gaining energy, preventing muscle weakness and degradation, complex carbs should be a large daily element of everyone’s nutritional intake.
Why You Should Consume: As with all relationships, it’s important to understand how true results only happen when both sides work together. By consuming protein and carbohydrates in a healthy way, muscle growth and sustainment is possible for all body types.
The Roles of Carbs in Muscle Growth
If protein is so essential to muscle growth, why put an emphasis on carbs? Well, carbohydrates don’t get enough credit when it comes to the important roles they play in muscle gains.
For one, carbohydrates help replace glycogen and aids in enhancing the role of insulin when it comes to transporting nutrients into the cells, including your muscles. Combining protein and carbs also has the added advantage of limiting post-exercise breakdown and promoting growth.
Think about it: building anything takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. Building muscle is no different. The body requires a lot of energy to power through workouts that result in bigger, stronger muscles. Where does the body get most of that energy? Usually from carbs.
What kind of carbohydrates should I eat?
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbs and complex carbs.
Simple carbs are a quick, sporadic source of energy, while complex carbs are a good source of steady energy.
Complex carbs may not be as readily available for immediate energy as simple carbs are, but they’re more efficient and healthier. Complex carbs provide sustainable energy, which means the energy is constant and there’s no “crash” like with simple carbs.
Because of their slow-release properties, complex carbs should be the largest component of daily energy intake. What most people don’t know is the role that complex carbohydrates play when it comes to muscle gains.
1. Carbs prevent muscle weakness
By now, you understand the importance of glycogen stores. Some glycogen is even stored in our muscles.
When you use those muscles during exercise, you tap into the glycogen stores in that particular muscle. When you lift weights with your arms, for example, you’re accessing the glycogen in your biceps.
Some athletes take advantage of glycogen by loading up on carbohydrates (by consuming carbs a day or more before a workout) to maximize the muscle glycogen stores. This can delay fatigue and even improve athletic performance, making for a better workout and stronger muscles.
2. Carbs prevent muscle degradation
One concern about low-carb diets is muscle loss.
A Netherlands study compared a low-carb diet to other diets and found that restricting carbs results in protein loss. This is because restricting carbs causes an increase in the amount of nitrogen that gets excreted by the body. Nitrogen is a component of amino acids (the stuff that forms muscle proteins), therefore nitrogen loss indicates that the muscles are breaking down.
3. Carbs help muscles recover from exercise
The role that carbs play in recovery goes back to glycogen stores. Immediately after exercise, athletes need to replenish their glycogen stores in order to prevent glycogen depletion.
Glycogen depletion, when glycogen stores have run out, causes gluconeogenesis. This is when the body forms glucose from new sources to compensate for the lack of glucose from carbohydrates. When this happens, the body turns to sources like fat and protein to fill this need. Protein acts as the last line of defense when energy is required, meaning that energy accessibility is running very low.
When the body breaks down protein to make more glucose, it takes from the muscle, causing them to waste away.
Gluconeogenesis is more common in carbohydrate-free diets, so be sure to consume healthy carbs to prevent this. Replenishing glycogen stores with complex carbs is important to prevent protein breakdown and muscle wasting.
Thanks for taking the time to read this Blog my beautiful little WTF4'ers to anyone who is not currently a WTF4'er.... We offer a FREE 7 DAY TRIAL where you get to experience Unlimited Personal Training in a small group setting.
Written By Mitch O'G
YOUR FRIENDLY LOCAL GYM WIZARD