Carbohydrate is just as important as protein for muscle building. It is the major fuel you use for lifting weights. During an intense workout you may deplete more than half of your glycogen reserves in your muscles. The only way you can restock your glycogen is by eating carbohydrates. without it, you will feel weak, fatigued and unable to lift weights heavy enough to stimulate muscle growth.
When you eat plenty of carbohydrates, your glycogen stores fill up and encourage your body to hold onto protein and build new muscle. When you skimp on carbs, your glycogen stores empty quickly, causing protein to be burned for fuel and thus not available for muscle building, so you will end smaller, not bigger.
Carbohydrate also raises insulin levels in the blood. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, driving protein and carbohydrates into the muscle cells, encouraging muscle repair and growth.
How much Carbohydrate do you need?
If you train with weights 2-5 times a week, aim to have between 5-7g carbohydrate per kg body weight per day.
How can I tell if I am eating little or too much carbohydrate? A good guide to whether you are eating enough is how energetic you feel during your workouts. Eating too little carbohydrate makes you feel fatigued, lethargic and kind of ”empty” during exercise – a bit like a car chugging along with very little petrol. Upping your carbohydrates intake an extra 50-100g daily should boost your energy levels, increase your endurance and up your speed. On the other hand, over-eating carbohydrates will not increase your energy levels further. Instead, you may feel heavy and more lethargic
Endurance athletes and those who train more frequently may need as much as 8 g carbohydrate per kg of body weight per day.
An average person with 70gk weight will probably need 350-490 g of carbs daily. But hard gainers with low levels of body fat may need to add more. If you reach a plateau for a month or so, increase your carbs intake by 50g a day for a few days and then another 50g until you start adding muscles.
When to eat Carbs?
Hard gainers with low body fat should spread their carbs evenly through the day and eat within a couple of hours of going to bed, since their fast metabolism may otherwise put them in negative calorie balance while sleeping.
Those wishing to reduce body fat may be better off eating more carbs earlier in the day and around their workouts when their energy demands are greatest. Research at the University of Texas at Austin has found that eating carbs combined with protein after workout is the best way to stimulate muscle growth. It promotes faster glycogen replacement as well as higher levels of growth hormone. Aim to have a protein – carbohydrate snack within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. You can also have fast carbs during your workout and fast amino acids like BCAA straight before and straight after your workout.
Seven Eating Tips for hard gainers:
- Schedule meals and snacks into your daily routine.
- Never skip meals no matter how busy you are.
- Increase your meal frequency – eat at least five or six meals. snacks daily.
- Eat regularly and avoid gaps longer than four hours.
- Have nutritious but calorie-dense snacks rather than high fat or sugar snacky.
- Boost the calorie and nutritional content of your meals without adding extra bulk using honey, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter or milk.
- To prevent bloating, try liquid meals, such as milk shakes ( Joker Whey or Dorian Yates Shadow Whey) smoothies, juices and meal replacement shakes and protein bars.