Carbohydrates have developed a bad name these days by linking them with gaining weight and weight-related disorders, like obesity. Due to this, carbohydrates are left behind and it is a huge mistake. By using carbohydrates in appropriate amount, you can get effective muscle building results. Carb blends are carbohydrate supplements that are widely available in the nutritional supplement market and are increasing in demand among fitness enthusiasts. But to go for a carb blend, you first need to understand what carbohydrates are and what they do for your body.
Carbohydrates are sugars that get digested to produce glucose in the body. This glucose is converted to energy that we utilise for physical and bodily activities. Glucose is stored in the body in the form of glycogen. Due to their benefit of energy production, carb supplements are preferred as a post-workout supplement to restore the muscle glycogen that works as a fuel for your body when you work out.
It is very essential to replenish your glycogen stores, especially if you are aiming at muscle growth. Moreover, while working out, your muscles get pumped up and the water content in your muscles increases. Therefore it is even more important to consume glycogen-rich supplement to keep that effect for long.
Here is what carb blends do for you…
Enhance your stamina and workout performance
When the body does not get enough carbs to form energy, it uses muscle protein to provide energy for intense workouts, which is not acceptable if you aim at muscle building. The main purpose of consuming carb blends is to stay away from fatigue and prevent you from being lethargic. Mix carb supplement in your intra-workout or post-workout drink and get going for long. Proper amount of carbohydrates is necessary to keep you active throughout these sessions.
Recovery of muscles and growth
When you work out hard at the gym, your body utilises muscle glycogen to supply the energy required. If you do not consume carbs after workouts, the body’s protein content gets affected. Right amount of carb intake is required for muscle growth and recovery from fatigue.
Insulin spike equals better absorption
Carb blends provide glucose, which enters the blood stream and raises the blood sugar level, leading to insulin spike. Research says that this insulin binds to specific receptors on muscle tissues and aid in better absorption of glucose and amino acids into the muscles.
Post-workout carbs don’t make you fat
Most people believe that carbs get converted to fats in the body and make you plump, and thus they avoid consuming carb supplements after workouts. However, very few know that post-workout carb intake is the best if you want to replenish your lost energy and avoid loss of muscle protein. It is the best time to consume carbs because post workout, carbs do not get converted into fats in the body. Even if you are dieting to lose weight and are planning to reduce your carb intake, cutting down on carbs after workout would be a wrong decision as it is one time when carbs give you the maximum benefits without adding fat to your body.
Considering all these benefits, carb blends are an essential supplement that should be incorporated in diet along with proteins for effective muscle growth and recovery. So start having carbs after workout and stop worrying about getting fat.
Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for the metabolism. While the body is able to obtain all the energy it needs from proteins and fats, this does not allow the body perform and operate at an optimal level. When carbs are consumed there are a few possibilities where they can end up.
The first possibility is that they will be broken down into into glucose and used for energy. Glucose is the preferred source of energy for working muscles and the brain so all carbohydrates must be broken down into glucose before they are used.
If body does not require glucose for energy at the moment then consumed carbohydrates will be converted to glycogen and stored. The body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen within liver and muscle tissue to be used at a later time. When the body needs energy it can break down this stored glycogen and convert it to glucose and use it for energy.
If all glycogen stores are full in both the liver and muscle tissue then carbohydrates will be converted to fat and stored as adipose tissue (body fat). Obviously, this is what serious lifter want to avoid. This is why it is important to consume enough carbohydrates to fuel training and the metabolism but not so much that it is more than your body can handle.
To understand the effects that carbs have on performance, you must first know how your body uses different forms of energy during a set. To lift a weight your body first requires energy. Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP, is the only source of energy that can drive your muscles to contract. Unfortunately, your muscle only stores enough ATP to support muscle contraction for a few seconds, therefore it must be replaced.
If it is not replaced muscle contraction will stop, meaning your set is over. Luckily your body replaces your ATP stores by breaking down creatine phosphate (CP). This releases energy for fast replenishment of ATP. Your muscle stores enough CP for about 8-12 seconds of maximal effort. When CP stores run out our body switches to glycolysis.
Glycolysis is when your body uses stored glycogen (carbohydrate stored within the muscle) and blood sugar to replace ATP stores. Your body repeats this process for every single set that you perform in the gym. Carbs come into play during glycolysis. In between sets, muscle cells use the glycolytic pathway to restore ATP.
If glucose or glycogen are in short supply, not only will strength suffer but sets will be terminated early, and training intensely will be nearly impossible. Consuming carbs will allow glucose to be in the blood stream and available for immediate use for energy. This will spare glycogen stores and allow training to proceed at optimal intensities.
It doesn’t matter if you are a bodybuilder, an athlete, or just trying to make improvements to your physique, your results hinge on how well you perform during your training sessions. This is where growth is stimulated. Carbs ensure that you can train hard from the beginning of a training session all the way until the end. For improved performance, high glycemic carb should be consumed immediately before and during training.
Carbs for Muscle Growth and Retention
We now know that carbohydrates can improve performance during training. This will definitely lead to muscle growth in the long run, but carbs also have the ability to increase muscle growth though. This is mainly through the actions of insulin. As stated previously, consuming carbs prompts your body to release insulin.
Insulin increases protein synthesis (muscle growth), which is the number one goal of every lifter. One way insulin causes growth is by increasing transportation of amino acids from your blood stream to your muscles. It also binds with the muscle cell membrane that triggers an onslaught of reactions that lead to growth.
Insulin is also anti-catabolic meaning it prevents muscle loss. From an anti-catabolic standpoint insulin keeps the catabolic hormone cortisol at bay. One of cortisol functions is to breakdown proteins (muscle tissue) and convert it to energy. When insulin levels are high cortisol levels are lower. This is the primary anti-catabolic power of insulin.
During training the body is in a catabolic state as cortisol levels are high. Some of this muscle loss can be counteracted by consuming high glycemic carbs before and during training.
After training the body will continue to be in a catabolic state until protein and carbohydrates are consumed. For this reason high glycemic carbs should also be consumed after training. The body is in a unique state immediately after training. It is much more sensitive to nutrients and and protein synthesis is increased beyond normal resting levels. This is yet another reason to mix carbohydrates with your post training protein shake.
Lastly, consuming high glycemic carbohydrates will replenish glycogen stores that have been depleted by training. This will lead to faster recovery and a better workout tomorrow.