When beginners plan their "menu," they often underestimate the importance of consuming sufficient carbohydrates. When it comes to building muscle mass, the first thing that comes to mind is increasing protein intake, but not many people think about carbohydrates.
It's already quite challenging to have a quality workout, let alone subject yourself to additional demands.
Pay attention here!
When you reduce the amount of carbohydrates, the body is forced to rely on other sources of energy. One of the "enemies" of muscles is gluconeogenesis, which is the process by which the body uses amino acids by turning them into glucose.
Thus, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, but also the best "shield" against the loss of hard-earned muscle mass.
In addition, ensuring an adequate intake of carbohydrates is necessary for other purposes.
The most important functions of carbohydrates are:
- they represent the primary source of energy for muscles
- they ensure proper functioning of the brain and nervous system
- they help the body use fats more efficiently
- they reduce the risk of atherosclerotic plaque formation in arteries.
SUFFICIENT CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE = PROTECTION AGAINST MUSCLE LOSS = BASIC CONDITION FOR DEVELOPING MUSCLE MASS
Carbohydrates are essential for the release of insulin, one of the most potent anabolic hormones in our body.
Controlling the natural secretion of insulin by managing carbohydrate intake can help achieve the desired result of muscle mass growth with minimal side effects regarding increased fat deposits.
Always consume carbohydrates and protein in combination.
To simplify, carbohydrates are the energy source. If you have an adequate energy source, you can push yourself harder during your workout. But of course, you also need adequate protein to build your muscles.
Carbohydrates aid in replenishing glycogen (fuel) stores, preventing the body from seeking other sources of energy and breaking down protein sources. By administering complex carbohydrates, proteins are not used as an energy source – a role fulfilled by carbohydrates – and can be used by the body for muscle development/repair.
If you consume protein without carbohydrates, they will be used as an energy source (or for glucose production) and not for muscle tissue repair and development (except for the meal before rest).
Without the insulin-stimulating effect generated by carbohydrates, proteins will be used less for the desired purpose (especially after training).
Additionally, consuming carbohydrates and protein in combination reduces the risk of storing carbohydrates as fat.
What we recommend:
A carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1
Calculate your daily carbohydrate intake at approximately 6g/kg body weight and protein intake at a minimum of 2g/kg body weight.
Thus, if you weigh 87.5kg, your protein intake should be 175g per day, and your carbohydrate intake should be 525g per day.
Carbohydrates before exercise
The basic rule for pre-workout meals is to eat at least 2 hours before physical activity. Depending on your metabolism, this interval can be shorter, but never exercise less than an hour after eating.
Before a workout, we need carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which are digested slowly. As a result, they will provide you with a constant supply of energy throughout the workout. Such carbohydrates include whole rice, potatoes, oat flakes, whole wheat pasta and bread, beans, etc.
For the pre-workout meal, it is recommended to have approximately 30g of protein and 50-70g of complex carbohydrates without simple carbohydrates, as a rapid increase followed by a sudden decrease in blood sugar levels can cause problems during exercise (weakness, lack of energy).
The amount of protein and carbohydrates should be slightly lower compared to other meals, so as not to overload your stomach before exercise. Also, fats that slow down the digestion process should be absent from this meal.
We all like fats, but keep the essential fatty acids for other meals.
Increase the amount of carbohydrates in the post-workout meal
The goal is to replenish the glycogen stores that are depleted during intense workouts.
By the way, glycogen represents the storage form of carbohydrates in the human and animal body and is found in the liver and muscles (it is the equivalent of starch in plants).
The basic rule is SUFFICIENT GLYCOGEN = PROTECTED MUSCLE MASS.
A sufficient intake of carbohydrates and protein after exercise activates the release of insulin, and the body enters an anabolic state (absolutely necessary for muscle development).
The 2-hour period after exercise is important because now a multitude of nutrients should be introduced, preferably in the form of two smaller meals consumed in this two-hour interval or in the form of a post-workout meal after 60 minutes.
So, you have the possibility to "refill" the glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, preventing the catabolism of muscle proteins.
After a workout, it's essential to consume simple carbohydrates; if you want to eat fruits, you should choose ones that contain less fructose and more glucose, such as bananas and raisins.
After a workout, it's recommended to consume twice the amount of protein as before the workout, for example, 50-60g, to prevent catabolism. On the other hand, you should keep in mind that too many fats and fibers slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients, and they should be avoided, especially after a workout.
For the post-workout meal, protein shakes are recommended, prepared by mixing with water. Milk should be avoided due to casein (a slow-digesting milk protein) that slows down the absorption of macronutrients.
After this meal, a similar meal to the one before the workout is recommended. Carbohydrates and proteins should come from sources with slower absorption.
When should carbohydrates be consumed?
Overnight, during sleep, the body consumes glycogen reserves that need to be properly replenished at breakfast.
Therefore, it's generally recommended to introduce carbohydrates into your diet at breakfast and after a workout, and of course, also before a workout, to have enough energy for a "normal" level of physical activity.
Unless you're the lucky owner of an ultra-fast metabolism, it's better to forget about any kind of carbohydrates late in the evening (at dinner, before going to bed).
Consuming carbohydrates late at night interferes with the release of growth hormones and favors the deposition of fats during sleep.
There are a thousand and one variants! Unfortunately, a unique recipe for optimal results hasn't been found yet, and your coach prefers one method or another to help you achieve your goals.
Don't hesitate anymore and enjoy the experience.