Carbs in Bodybuilding – Which Ones are the Best for Your Muscle Growth?

Hello, friends!

I hope you have enjoyed this winter season and here we are, the spring is knocking at our doors which means that we are now much closer to summer and beach time 😀

Let me guess what you are thinking right now: “It’s the right time to get back to my bodybuilding workouts”, am I right? 🙂

Especially if you are the type of person who doesn’t work out in the cold season thinking that you still look great due to wearing warm and thick clothes.

Sometimes it’s my case too, haha, so don’t worry, you are not alone 🙂

In today’s post, I want to talk about the importance of Carbs in Bodybuilding, what they actually do in our bodies, their types and the best carbohydrates to consume to build muscle.


Carbs for Bodybuilders – Friends or Enemies?

We know that carbohydrates and fats are the main sources of energy for the human body, and together with proteins, which are the main building blocks, they are called macronutrients.

Their correct ratio in the diet is responsible for the normal functioning of our bodies.

The proportion of carbohydrates is 50 to 60% of the daily energy expenditure.

Average, a person consumes about 300-500 g of carbohydrates per day, which makes carbohydrates the most voluminous component of our diet.

Carbohydrates are necessary for the nutrition of the brain in the form of glucose (120 grams per day).

Zero carbohydrate intake can lead to serious disorders of the nervous system, which manifests itself from weakness and fatigue to loss of consciousness.

I am sure this is the last thing you want to happen to you and I highly encourage you to not fall into all these modern traps of low carb diets unless you have some serious health issues of course.

The Unique Feature of Carbs

The only storage of carbohydrates in our body is glycogen.

Unfortunately, carbohydrates as a source of energy in the body have one significant drawback compared to fats: carbohydrate reserves are limited to several hundred grams in the form of glycogen.


Carbs In Bodybuilding - Friends or Enemies?


In our body, glycogen is stored in the liver (about 80 g serves to maintain blood sugar), and especially in the muscles (starting from 150 g in ordinary people who do not play sports and up to a maximum of 350 g in athletes).

The role of glycogen for strength training can be explained as follows: the intensity, duration, and quality of training is directly proportional to the amount of glycogen in the muscles.

And why in this context we can’t talk about fats? After all, we have in stock a few kilograms of fat, that is, thanks to this stock we could work continuously for several weeks!

Well, the problem lies in the nature of muscle work during strength training, since it is a high-intensity physical activity of an anaerobic nature (without enough oxygen) and, as we know, under these conditions fats, unfortunately, can hardly be used.

During strength training that is lasting, let’s say, from 60 to 90 minutes, we can completely deplete our glycogen stores.

During training, the muscles are in a state of catabolism, that is, a more complex substance (muscle glycogen) breaks down into a simpler substance (glucose), which serves as an energy source for the formation of ATP.

Along with this, much less favorable processes take place in the body, namely, protein catabolism, which increases due to a decrease in glycogen and when we extend the duration of the training.

Muscle proteins are used by our bodies as a source of energy. This negative process continues to go on even after the end of the training, and of course, our task is to stop it as soon as possible!

Which Carbohydrates are the Best for Muscle Building?

It’s, in essence, no difference as to what carbohydrates are better for your overall health.

There are two types of carbohydrates: fast (simple) and slow (complex).

Fast carbohydrates are also called simple because they have a simple molecular structure and are quickly broken down.

All carbohydrates in the body turn into glucose, which leads to a rise in blood sugar.

In essence, your body doesn’t care what you eat: a lollipop or a piece of bread. Carbohydrates, in any case, will be converted to sugar (glucose).


Carbs in Bodybuilding


Fast carbohydrates are quickly absorbed and require immediate burning or they will be deposited as fat on your sides.

No matter how much you eat carbohydrates, the blood sugar level should be back to normal in a matter of two hours.

Otherwise, toxicity starts in the body and excessive sugar level becomes poison for your body.

Complex carbohydrates, on the contrary, have a complex molecular structure and to break them down to glucose, it normally takes more time.

That is why they are absorbed more slowly and blood sugar rises slowly and systematically, without causing any dangerous consequences.

Isomaltulose – The Revolutionary Carbohydrate

After training, it is extremely important to saturate our muscles with glycogen as soon as possible, but not all carbohydrates are suitable for this purpose.

It is most advisable to use the latest progressive development – the revolutionary carbohydrate isomaltulose (trade name Palatinose).


Carbs in Bodybuilding - Isomatulose



In case if you wonder what the heck Isomaltulose is, let me quickly tell you that it is a special carbohydrate with a low glycemic index for long-term nutrition in the form of glucose.

Due to the intake of Isomaltulose, the blood sugar level is very quickly balanced to normal, because after exercise there is little glucose in the blood and hypoglycemia occurs.

Pure glucose is not very suitable for these purposes, because it overloads the digestive tract, increases osmolarity and threatens you with intestinal problems.

Please note that I am by no means a scientist or a medical specialist to be able to explain some things about Isolmatulose.

If you want to know what the developers of this new type of sugar have to say about it, you may wish to watch the video below:

When Complex Carbs are Needed?

During the whole day, and also evenings, it is possible and even necessary to eat complex carbohydrates, i.e. fiber-rich foods with a low glycemic index.

It is due to the natural necessity for you to maintain a high level of strength and energy all day for a normal life, not to mention for bodybuilding workouts that require whole more energy reserves.

This is due to the fact that, unlike simple carbohydrates, complex ones are absorbed into the blood more slowly, there are no sharp drops in blood sugar levels, and therefore there is no sharp rise and fall in well-being.

You just have enough energy all the time, you always feel equally good.


Carbs in Bodybuilding - Muscle Energy


Tip: If you need to burn as much fat as possible, forget about simple carbohydrates. You want to eat more raw vegetables, whole-grain cereals and other foods with a low glycemic index.

Since slow carbohydrates are absorbed gradually and not immediately, there is no chance for them to be stored in fat.

In addition, the body constantly receives an influx of new calories, but in small doses, which allows you to burn excess fat and prevent the body from starving.

You already know that long breaks between meals make your body put off a lot of fat reserves in case you again go hungry.

This happens when you eat rarely, but a lot, especially when it comes to fast carbohydrates.

Energy is ejected quickly and fades away just as quickly, and the body needs to exist for a few more hours and it begins to eat everything it finds: muscles, fat stores, etc.

When Simple Carbs are Needed?

Although I told you about a large number of cons of fast carbohydrates, there are still areas where they are simply not replaceable.

For example, before training or closing the carbohydrate window after training.

During training, you need energy, and our body uses glucose as energy, i.e. carbohydrates.

And in order to raise the maximum possible weight, make the maximum number of approaches, you need to be at the peak of energy.


Carbs In Bodybuilding - Simple Carbs


That is why before training, many athletes drink sweet water, water with honey or a gainer. This should be done about half an hour before training.

In this case, the peak will fall just on the first working set.

If you drink directly upon arrival in the gym, a full stomach may interfere with working out, and besides that, energy will not have time to be generated.

So that the body can use the influx of fast carbohydrates (and any others too), you need to have time to develop the right amount of insulin, otherwise, it will be just blood sugar, and the body will not be able to use it.

How Many Carbohydrates Bodybuilders Need to Consume?

During the first two hours after training, it is recommended to take at least 1 gram of carbohydrates per 1 kg of body weight.

Why in the first two hours?

Because in this way, we use the phenomenon known as the anabolic window, when the process of glycogen creation takes place in the body as much as possible by increasing the activity of the glycogen synthesis enzyme, and after this time the process begins to decline.


Carbs In Bodybuilding - How Many Needed?


Therefore, an ideal option would be to supplement the carbohydrate intake for bodybuilding purposes with a sufficient amount of protein in a ratio of 0.3 g to 0.5 g per 1 kg of body weight to maintain higher insulin secretion, as well as restore muscle proteins.

Thus, your sports drink after training should combine both carbohydrates and proteins. In practical terms, this means using weight gainers that contain about 25% of protein.

Final Thoughts

Here you have it, my friend! I hope you have learned something new in this article about the importance of Carbs in Bodybuilding.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the aspects I have touched here, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

If you liked this article and think it might be useful for someone else too, please share it with your friends and family through social media channels.


All the best,

Ionut Voicu

3 thoughts on “Carbs in Bodybuilding – Which Ones are the Best for Your Muscle Growth?”

  1. I have learned so much about carbs in bodybuilding I didn’t know.

    We all have become afraid of carbs when trying to manage our weight and working out.

    I know I consume a high-protein diet and very little carbs as much as I can, but after reading your article I can understand why my energy is so low without consuming enough carbs in my diet.

    Thank you

    • Hi, Jeff,

      I am glad I could be of help with this piece of article for you.

      I have always been an advocate of a well-balanced diet, I truly believe that our body needs each of the micronutrients, they all have their own special role.

      Best Wishes,

  2. Wow, I learn more today about carbs.

    I never understand why certain days the workload is the same but feeling too tired.

    Now I remember that it is because of the low carb diet on those days.

    Thanks for the very important and very informative post. I will share it to help others, too. I know it will help many people.


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