When it comes to building muscles, one of the most talked about nutrient is protein. Fitness lovers especially strength athletes like bodybuilders, weightlifters often tend to overlook carbohydrates which is also an essential nutrient to build muscles. Strength athletes usually have high protein requirements and have to consume a protein-rich diet along with a proper workout and rest to achieve their desired physique. Agreed that protein are the building blocks of muscles but it is also a fact that consuming excess protein is of no use. Our body has a daily protein requirement and once fulfilled, the extra protein will be utilised as calories and stored as fat, if the diet is calorie sufficient.
Many fitness enthusiasts believe in completely eliminating carbohydrates from the diet and focus only on proteins. Unfortunately it is not the right approach to fulfil their fitness goal. Proper workout is required to stimulate muscle growth and make your muscle size bigger for which we need carbohydrates, as fuel to perform the workout which helps stimulate muscles to get bigger.
Consuming whey protein post an intense exercise session is a trend. A protein rich meal after a workout is recommended which should provide at least 20 grams of proteins for muscle recovery and stimulate anabolism. But studies indicate that a post workout meal should contain some amount of carbohydrates and proteins. This is necessary to restock lost glycogen stores and also because carbohydrates triggers an increase in insulin hormone. This hormone further increases the uptake of amino acids by our muscle cells. Further, carbohydrates increases the transportation of amino acids in our muscle cells.
Carbohydrates have a protein sparing action on our body. They provide energy and spares proteins for building muscles. In case of insufficient carbohydrates, our body starts deriving energy from proteins which results in muscle loss. Carbohydrates also increase protein synthesis and decreases catabolism. Low levels of carbohydrates results in low muscle glycogen stores which adversely affects athletic performance. It result in low energy levels making the person feel lethargic and fatigue. Several studies have also observed that when proteins were consumed with carbohydrates after an exercise session, it resulted in greater lean body mass comparatively when protein alone was consumed.
To conclude, we can say that carbohydrates are necessary when it comes to muscle building. But one should be very careful in choosing the sources. Meeting carbohydrate needs doesn’t mean bingeing on refined based foods, packaged foods or sugar laced foods. Carbohydrates sources should be chosen wisely depending upon the needs and majority should come from sources like sweet potato, whole grains, ragi, jowar, bajra, multigrain bread or chapatis, fruits, quinoa, oatmeal, legumes, etc.