Carbs for the bodybuilder

Carbs for the bodybuilder

The explanations in the last two sections gives rise to a few very simple rules concerning carbohydrate intake for bodybuilders (as well as any other athlete).

Generally, as an athlete, you should limit your carbohydrate intake to foods with low glycemic index. This ensures a constant energy intake and thus avoids fluctuations in the blood sugar levels throughout the day. If you are to eat foods with a high GI, you should always avoid the simultaneous intake of fat in order to burn at least part of the carbohydrates in the conversion to fat in the case of an oversupply.
In a diet, the reduction of calories should consist primarily of a reduction in carbohydrates. A high insulin output is the enemy of any fat loss diet, as it turns the body on “build-mode” and not on fat loss.

From this rule, there is only one exception, the carbohydrate intake right after exercise. Especially after a hard training session, the carbohydrate deposits in the muscles are exhausted and the body is in a catabolic state. In this situation, the body needs all rapidly available carbohydrates to replenish the depots and stop the catabolic (=break down) processes in the body. Experience shows that post workout a supply of about 0.5-1g carbohydrates / kg body weight brings good results. This intake should consist primarily of high GI carbohydrates, as these (as described) find their way to the cells very quickly. Also you should have a fast digesting protein along with these carbs.

Here it becomes obvious why a pure protein shake directly after training does not bring the desired effect. You do not lead to the nutrients to where the body most needs them. You should wait for 60-90 minutes after that initial post workout meal (or shake) and follow up with a larger supply of a (slow-digesting) protein source. It makes more sense to combine the carbohydrates with a readily available protein source. As a general rule of thumb I recommend 30g of whey protein directly post workout. In addition, creatine supplementation may also be good, since it makes use of the insulin effect and promotes more creatine to be incorporated into the cells than would be the case with a carbohydrate-free intake.

For the average guy you should also avoid carbohydrate-rich meals directly before training, as well as in the evening. While high GI carbohydrates can be taken up quickly to be available in training, they have the disadvantage that they lead to a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, which in turn causes a strong insulin secretion, which in turn lowers the blood sugar level so much that you get tired. If you want to provide enough energy in your workout, eat a balanced meal 2 hours in advance, which contains low GI foods as your carbohydrate source.

In the evening you should avoid many carbohydrates for the reason that simply no longer the need for it exists. Looking at the carbohydrate metabolism curve: it rises in the morning, peaks at midday and early afternoon, and then decreases. For the evening the carbohydrate requirement is only small. This is because of the fact that one comes to rest in the evening and does not exercise physically. Consume more protein-rich food and eat less carbohydrates in the evening.
Now it becomes clear why the old rule that you should not eat in the evening after 6 pm is only partially correct. The average person who follows this rule does not pay attention to the choice of food anyway. Accordingly, he usually adds the wrong carbohydrates, often in conjunction with fat (chips, chocolate bars, etc). That way he is just gaining fat. As an athlete, if you change this rule to limit carbohydrate intake in the evening and the remaining carbohydrates have a low GI, you will not have any problems with fat storage.

Again, it needs to be said that statements like “no carbs at night or you’ll get fat” are not entirely true. It depends of course on the individual and what was eaten until that point throughout the day. If you are in a caloric deficit you won’t gain any weight, no matter at what time of the day you eat. On the other hand, if you are in a caloric surplus it does not matter (that much) when you eat, you will gain weight. Nutrient timing is not as important as many people think (for fat loss or muscle building) and therefore a topic for another day.


Summary and overview