When training intensely comes at the forefront of your agenda, carbohydrates are a necessity. This group of foods is the preferred source for energy, so it is crucial that the body is well supplied with it to get the most out of your workout.
But why is there mystery shrouded around carbohydrate consumption? The reason may be due to the fact that people don’t know when, how much, or where to get their sources from. Many have been misled with the belief that “all carbohydrates are created equal”; this statement is truly unfounded.
In fact, many people “over-consume” carbohydrate foods, which lead to spill over in fat storage. Carbohydrate foods are found virtually everywhere; in cereals, dairy products, wheat products and in many varieties of beverages. Now this being the case, what’s the problem? It’s the fact that most of these sources contain the simple carbohydrate forms glucose, fructose or galactose which cause intense blood sugar level spikes, enhanced storage of fat and energy lapses. For this reason it is important from a bodybuilding standpoint to consume carbohydrates that will supply a slow release of sugar into the blood.
Beneficial Effects Carbohydrates Offer Bodybuilders
Carbohydrates serve as the primary source of energy for the bodybuilder. Without sufficient levels of this vital food, energy levels will fluctuate and your performance will most likely suffer.
Carbohydrates help ensure muscle tissue is spared
This can be explained by two mechanisms; one, carbohydrates prevent protein in muscle tissue from being converted to glucose which is needed during periods of intense training, and two the release of insulin following consumption of a carbohydrate meal provides an anabolic environment; one which promoted muscle growth while inhibiting breakdown.
Ensuring proper functioning of the central nervous system
Two organ systems must use carbohydrates (glucose) as their primary energy source; the heart and the nervous system. The reason this is important to a bodybuilder is that since it is the nervous system which instructs your muscles to contract, it is important that a supply of energy is readily available to accommodate this function. Consuming high quality, slow digesting carbohydrates are the best used currency for achieving peak performance.
The post workout phase anabolic window
Following training there is a very narrow time period for optimizing muscle re-growth. This time period is referred to as the “anabolic window” and lasts for approximately 90 minutes. There are two reasons why consumption of carbohydrates here is a must; firstly because due to the fact that your muscle cell machinery has encountered significant damage (trauma) during your workout, it will try to grab as much calories as possible to kick start growth and repair. In addition, the release of insulin at this time further promotes the use of these good calories (protein and carbohydrates) for muscle repair and not fat storage as other times of the day might. This is also the most forgiving time of the day for most trainees on a strict diet, since a bit of release may be demonstrated in consumption here, including a fast carbohydrate source ( think something sweet, Gatorade anybody?) and a powerful post workout protein shake. In fact, although some conflicting data exists; it is actually advisable to consume fast carbohydrates sources after your workout, to capitalize on the 90 minutes window. But be wary, this rule can be bended, especially depending on your body type.
Best sources to get bodybuilder friendly carbohydrates?
Your base should consist of slow digesting, high fiber choices. These include steel cut oats, whole wheat pasta products, whole grain breads or cereals, vegetables, peas and beans, sweet potatoes, and probably everyone’s favourite brown rice. A new addition to this old-school list is the versatile Chia seed; now proven to provide a slow steady release of carbohydrates as well as aiding in efficient hydration of cells. In fact, many people use Chia seeds for weight loss.
Now the last area of consideration should be how much. Generally experts recommend anywhere between 40-55% of total calories come from carbohydrate sources; to calculate this find an efficient caloric requirement calculator, calculate your daily requirements and then simply find out that percentage of carbohydrates. To fully appreciate calorie counting however, you must be intimately familiar with the nutritional facts of that food.
Once these variables are all addressed, you are as good as on your way to the body of your dreams.