Bodybuilding Nutrition

Carbohydrate Timing For Building Muscle

How to Time Carbohydrate Intake to Build Muscle

carbohydrate timing for building muscle

The Right Carbs At The Right Time

By The “Muscle Nerd” Jeff Anderson

If a Carbohydrate and a Protein were playing a part in the next blockbuster action flick, you can be sure that the average bodybuilder in the audience would expect the Carb to be the evil villain intent on destroying the planet while the Protein would surely be the hero dressed in white who comes in with a flamethrower and a grenade launcher to foil his sinister plan and save the day, right?

Well, you’re not along if you’ve been caught up in the growing rage against consuming anything with a single carb in it. Following the discovery that reducing carbs can reduce fat storage by forcing the body to use fat as fuel rather than digested carbs, misinformed bodybuilders have been unknowingly short-circuiting their gains in an attempt to see their abs.

While it can be beneficial to reduce carb intake when trying to “cut down” for uncovering those elusive “6-pack” abs, the wiser plan uses the right carbs the right way to maximize fat loss, build muscle, and energize your day.

Here’s what to eat and when…

Before Your Workouts:

Your body needs carbs to fuel that intense workout you have planned at the gym, and for this you’ll need to consume complex, low-glycemic carbs (carbs that digest slowly in the body and don’t cause an insulin spike) about an hour or so prior to hitting the weights.

Eating low-glycemic carbs (with a glycemic index, or “GI”, rating of 70 or less) will provide the stored fuel you need to power through your sets.

Here’s a sample list to draw from:

Pre-Workout Carb SelectionGlycemic Index Rating
Oatmeal, Long-Cooking49
Rye Bread42
Spaghetti67
Milk, Whole39
Fructose32
Pinto Beans55
Sweet Potato62
Cereal, Bran33

After Your Workout:

During your workout, your body extracts glycogen (stored carbohydrates) from your muscle cells as one of its primary fuel sources for hoisting that bar into the air.

If you don’t replace this muscle glycogen fast following your workout, your muscle cells won’t be able to repair themselves at optimum levels and you may actually experience muscle loss, or at least “less than desired results” from your weight training program.

To quickly replace muscle glycogen and avoid further muscle breakdown, consume about 100 grams of high-glycemic carbs (GI rating over 70) within 1 hour after your workout.

Post-Workout Carb SelectionGlycemic Index Rating
Oatmeal, Instant, Sweetened87
White Rice81
White Bread100
Banana, Ripe90
Pineapple94
Mashed Potatoes, White104
Table Sugar92
Donut108

Throughout Your Day:

Other than immediately after your workout, you should try to avoid high-glycemic carbs as much as possible throughout your day.

By avoiding the associated “insulin rush” that comes from highly processed and sugary high GI foods, your body will draw more from your fat stores to help provide fuel rather than looking to the quickly digested carbs in your stomach.

Not only will you feel energized and alert all day long, but you’ll also have ignited a long, slow fat burn that will help you finally get a peek at the washboard abs you’re trying to uncover.

Before Bed:

When you sleep, your body’s metabolism slows down considerably and makes it easier to store excess calories as fat.

Although you should certainly avoid high GI carbs before you go to bed, you should also try to limit your consumption of “dry carbs” after 4:00 pm to avoid excess fat storage while you sleep. These would include things like pastas, breads, rice and potatoes.

Here is a short list of “approved” carb choices:

Pre-Bedtime Carb SelectionGlycemic Index Rating
Grapefruit26
Peach30
Apple49
Milk, Skim46
Yogurt, Plain32
Custard59
Tomato Soup54

Related Articles:

Help I Ate a Carbohydrate

Pre workout Nutrition and Post Workout Nutrition

Caffeine For Muscle Pumps

The simple fruit that boosts Nitric Oxide levels for more muscle

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Muscle Guru

Having spent the last 33 years weight training I have now decided to turn my attention to helping others achieve their full potential. No matter if you are a complete novice wanting to build muscle fast or an experienced muscle builder looking for that elusive muscle building routine that will promote new muscle growth. The muscle building industry is a mine field and I want to help people that are determined to build muscle naturally.

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