Are Carbs Good for Building Muscle: The Truth About Carbohydrates

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One of the biggest questions to ask is: “Are carbs good for building muscle?” If you were to ask a novice weight trainer, their answer would be no. However, plenty of people see and understand the importance of having healthy carbs added to your diet.

With popular exercise trends constantly emerging on social media, there has been a stigma attached to carbs. Since not all carbohydrates are created equally, there are benefits to some over others, especially when you want to bulk up.

Are Carbs Good for Building Muscle?

We’ll explore the types of carbs you should be eating and how they can help you to achieve your goals.

1. Managing Sugar Levels

When you eat simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, your body breaks it down quickly and turns it into sugar. This sugar is then stored as fat in your body, which is why it’s highly advised you avoid any type of simple carbohydrate. On the other hand, complex carbs do the opposite.

When you eat things such as oats, whole wheat bread, and beans, your body won’t automatically convert it into sugar which is then stored as fat.

Instead, complex carbs are broken down slowly which gives your body enough time to absorb the nutrients and transform them into energy. This steadily raises your blood sugar without having to worry about any spikes throughout the day.

2. Improving Digestion

When you take a look at diets that require very low carbs, two of the main side effects are the inability to use the bathroom and bad breath. Constipation is a clear indication that your body is not getting enough fiber to push any waste out of your system. Without carbs, everything you eat turns into a literal bulk that cannot move.

Opting for complex carbs gives you the perfect amount of fiber to get things going. It’s highly recommended you consider investing in a box of bran cereal, as it acts as a delicious treat but also helps to keep your regular bowel movement. In a single serving of “All-Bran”, you’ll be consuming up to 10 grams of fiber, which is more than enough.

3. Preventing Infections

According to researchers at Loughborough University, a diet which doesn’t have enough carbs can lead to increased cortisol levels. As a hormone that regulates your stress response, the more stressed your body feels, the more likely it is to store nutrients as fat. Compromised cortisol levels also have a significant impact on your immune system, which increases your likelihood of falling ill.

As your immune system is your first defense against sicknesses such as the flu or cold, you’ll want to make sure it is as strong as possible. You can find healthy alternatives to traditional carbs, such as sweet potatoes, which are also packed with beta-carotene.

4. Improved Muscle Recovery

If you’ve ever worked out before, you’re likely aware of how sore you feel after hitting the gym. This is because when you work your muscles, they break down and need nourishment to repair themselves and to get bigger. With a healthy level of carbohydrates in your meal plan, you’ll have a more pleasant post-workout experience.

When you consume carbs, your body will then release insulin which puts your muscles in an anabolic state. This state then causes the muscles to build, but these effects are only seen when you eat them alongside protein and fat.

5. Heightened Focus

As mentioned, eating simple carbohydrates are a sure-fire way to force your body into a mid-day slump. By opting for complex carbs, you’ll be preventing low blood sugar, which in turn deprives your brain of necessary glucose. This can either leave you feeling weak or very light-headed, causing you to lose your focus throughout the day.

For better productivity and a clear mind during the day, you’re going to want to focus on eating the correct amount of carbs. This is also essential for when you get back into the gym, as you won’t be able to push yourself as hard if you’re lightheaded and weak. Consider adding blueberries to your favorite carb-heavy cereal for an added concentration boost throughout the day.

How to Build Muscle with Carbs

Building muscle with carbs is easier than you’d think, and many people suggest focusing on a high-carb diet to help bulk. Jim White, RDN, ACSM, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios says, there are plenty of tips to consider when learning how to build muscle with carbs.

1. Work with a Nutritionist

The first thing you’ll want to do is work with a nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan that fits your needs. If you’re interested in building muscle, you need to find the threshold where your body will benefit from what you’re eating and not store it as fat. A nutritionist will focus on macros and how your body responds to find the perfect combination of foods.

2. High-Carb Post-Workout Snacks

Buying different types of high-carb post-workout snacks is a fantastic way to improve your muscle growth. However, it is important to choose snacks which also contain a substantial amount of protein to nourish your muscles after they have broken down. On average, your snack should have at least 55% carbs, 25% protein, and 20% fat.

3. Eating Carbs Before Working Out

The more carbs you eat before you workout, the more intensity you’ll be able to put into your activities. As your glycogen stores will be increased, you’ll have far more energy to fuel your exercises. This is one of the main reasons a high-carb diet is highly recommended for high-intensity exercise enthusiasts.

4. Combining Carbs and Protein

As earlier discussed, it is important that you not only focus on consuming enough carbs but protein as well. Carbohydrates are a phenomenal source of energy but protein is also essential for nourishing the muscles before and after a workout. The combination of these two components will help you to achieve your desired goals faster than without.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits you’re sure to experience by adding carbohydrates to your daily diet, especially when it comes to building muscle. From providing you improved focus for your workouts to boosting your immune system, it’s all a part of developing a stronger body.

Instead of following trends and fads which suggest low-carb diets are the way to go, ask yourself, “Are carbs good for building muscle?” You’ll find you can easily work towards building a healthier and stronger body with the help of complex carbohydrates.